Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering the Living

I have had many (older) good friends pass away during my life, and invariably during the memorial service someone says that this is a time of joyful reflection and not mourning. It is okay to be sad at their passing, they continue, but we should be thankful that they are reunited with God.

On this ninth anniversary of September 11, I'd like to think of this as a joyful occasion then. I am not talking about those who passed away on that fateful day, however; I am talking about those who survived that day, whether they were in the area on the day itself or had some relation to the events of that day. It is not my intention to trivialize the deaths of the many who were lost. Like you, I mourned them, even more so since I worked in the South Tower up until the year prior. In fact, on that day I was on the 31st floor of the tallest building on the lower East Side (save for those in the Financial District) and had a clear view of the events as they occurred including the planes' entry in the buildings. But while I do not forget the many who passed away on that day, I take joy in the lives of those who could have been lost but, because of some measure of grace, were not. Here are a few examples.

Frank Segarra landed in San Francisco on September 10 for a business trip. It wasn't until the next day, when he was awakened in his hotel room by his wife at 6am, that he realized he traveled via Flight 93 just 48 hours before it crashed in Pennsylvania.

Mike Tewes worked for Marsh & McClennan for nearly 5 years. After receiving a job offer from The Bank of Tokyo, he reflected on the situation and decided to accept it. It was in July 2001 that he spent his last day of work on the top floors of the North Tower.

Chaya Mozes was known at Morgan Stanley as a very hard working manager (EVP, specifically) who arrived early to her office on the 68th floor of the South Tower and left late. 9/11 started like any normal day for her: she arrived at 7:30am; checked her email; and started compiling her agenda for the day. When the first plane struck the North Tower, the South Tower immediately started evacuation procedures. Being 5 months pregnant, however, made walking down the 68 flights of stairs nearly impossible, and in fact she had to be carried for the remaining floors due to her exhaustion.

These are a few examples of people who survived the tragedy of September 11. While I can spend this day lamenting over all that was bad during that day, I am instead choosing to focus on the lives of those that I know that by some measure of fate, Divine Intervention, or whatever you choose to call it made it through the day unscathed. Let's not forget the memories of the deceased, but let's also be sure to not forget the joy of those whose names are not on the roll call that is read every year.

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