As one who used to live in NYC and work in Manhattan, I can tell you that the first World Trade Center was an iconic piece of architecture, a wondrous piece of engineering, a glorious man-made mountain peaking all the others over a twelve mile island of mountains. Times 2.
There are so many funny and fond memories of the WTC: The man who walked the tightrope between them, the guy who thought he could walk up the side, the constant TV and movie shots with it as a backdrop. Or, how about all the people who met for lunch on the plaza, me included, just to stare at the magnificence before them.
And then, tragically, within less than two hours on a sunny, late summer day, this month twelve years ago, they were gone, taking all those memories, visions, and almost 3,000 lives with them. And changed America forever.
The last time I was downtown by the site was in 2003, when I went to the New York State Banking Department on State Street to get my Mortgage Broker Registration. At that time, the area was cordoned off with chain link fence around two huge holes in the ground. I was stunned to see an area up close that I, as well as many others, loved to go to visit and enjoy all the time. It was horrible to see, knowing that relatives and friends of mine died there, and could have still had their dust mixed with the earth.
Over the years, I watched on TV, as many of us have, the building, the delay, the annual commemoration of that day, the lawsuits and finally, the opening of the plaza, the memorial, the waterfall. And in the process, we have seen the continual reconstruction of the new World Trade Center, until finally, earlier this year, the tower was placed on the still incomplete building.
This past Sunday, I was at a family party in Queens for a reunion, of sorts. My brother, who lives in Florida, and I took my sister in law home to Brooklyn at the end of the party. As we drove, we had a great view of the new WTC and I was amazed how close it was to being done. It is a sight to see.
Suddenly, a wave of nostalgia flooded back into my brain, stirring memories I thought I had forgotten. They were bittersweet, mostly bitter, due to the sense of loss I felt at that moment. And then, it was gone, replaced with the hope that this building would fare a better fate.
So, friends, let’s raise our glasses and toast a prayer to the memories of a time gone by, and to the memories yet to be made. And know all things happen for a reason, yet to be revealed. To the new WTC: Live long and prosper.