We share 7:48 a.m. CST Sept. 11, 2001. Like you, I know in intimate detail where I was, what I was doing and what I did. I know what space I was parked in at Denver's light rail Broadway station as I listened to National Public Radio ready to go to work. I remember that warm September day in the utmost clarity.
We all have defining moments in our lives. The first for me was the 1963 assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Police Department. Not the killing of the president - that moment made little impression on the 11-year-old. However, I saw Oswald get shot live on television. I know in intimate detail where I was, what I was doing and what I did with utmost clarity.
Yet my relationship surrounding the World Trade Center is a bit more intimate than most of yours. I was raised with the Twin Towers and the buildings surrounding the plaza. My grandfather took me to see the rows of two- and three-story shops and apartments torn down as that colossus grew in their place. I watched the hole being dug and the steel being erected. I watched a skyscraper being born.
As a pilot, I would fly friends from Republic Airport on Long Island north over Connecticut, west to the Hudson and south down the river past New York's skyline. In many cases, flying at 900 feet, we were below the Empire State Building and the Trade towers. We waved at the office workers, wondering if they really saw us. In 1967, someone taking the same scenic route decided to make a left-hand turn and flew between the WTC towers.
As a student at St. Louis University, the Towers were the sign I had arrived home, whether it was driving across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge or looking out the window of an airliner approaching LaGuardia Airport.
I had other connections with that dreadful day. I have taught professional development courses in finance and securities in Denver since 1996. Some of my former students were employed in offices on the upper floors of the World Trade Center towers. Between 25 and 100 of those men and women died.
Ironically, I had lunch at Windows on the World, the restaurant on the 106th floor of WTC Two with a friend on August 10, 2001. One month later, I watched with my students at Metropolitan State College of Denver as part of my life was taken from me by 19 al-Qaida operatives who had lived and worked in this great nation.
Two years ago, when the World Trade Center exhibit came to Kansas City, I went with Kathy. I wanted part of my life back as I walked past twisted beams and photographs of the true heroes, the police and firefighters of New York. As I watched the newsreel of the attacks I broke. I found myself sitting in a corner, crying with Kathy with a security guard standing over me. I do not know how I got there. Part of my life was lost, a pain I cannot truly describe.
I am angered when my memories are used as a symbol of fear. They were not. I am angered when we are told that the fighting in Iraq is for the 3,000 who died. We are not. I am angered when people who are not from New York tell me that they ‘know' how I felt or feel today. They do not. Ground Zero for too many is a symbol, a hole in the ground.
On the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attack, I will be sitting in my car, listening to National Public Radio, crying for the loss of life and the loss of part of my life. What will you be doing?
David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and instructor at Columbia College. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.