LC Van Savage
September 11, 2001
I remember how proud I felt when our #1 son Erick showed us his big, nifty corner office in the World Trade Center. Seated at his desk, he overlooked the busy New York City streets below. Erick loved that office, loved the two big towers he managed, and was in charge of seven hundred people who worked to keep those two huge towers, their enormous lobbies, and the observation towers cleaned, repaired and supplied. He knew every inch of them, every closet, office, shop, the subways below. It was a great job, it was hard work, the commute from his home in Chappaqua was a killer, and he would not have given it up for the world.
But he would for his son. A couple of years ago, Erick was told by a Martin Djelaj that a new area was opening up in Utica, and would he like to go. He would. Erick was then leaving home before his son Dylan was awake in the mornings, returning after he’d gone to bed. It was no way to maintain a marriage, no way to be a father. He asked for the job, got it, and with his family left for Utica, New York, to successfully open a huge, new area, bring in new business, and to "get more buildings." Very happy with his decision, Erick now works 7 minutes from home, enjoys his job, he and wife Stephanie love where they live, and Dylan definitely knows who his father is.
But Erick had to occasionally go back to those two enormous towers he loved, had been so proud to care for, to go back to the offices he’d worked in, and to meet with the men there. He wasn’t there today, September 11th, 2001, for which our family is profoundly grateful.
I was doing a lot of upstairs work that morning, and hadn’t had the TV or radio on. Finally I did turn on the radio and as I listened incredulously to the news, I remember clearly thinking, "Oh, they’re trying to redo that old Orson Wells radio show, ‘War of the Worlds.’ This is a joke. Well, it’s a pretty bad joke. This is gonna really scare people." But then I realized it was not a joke. My mouth went dry and I began to shake and I ran to the phone to make sure Erick was in Utica and not at the WTC that day. When I heard his voice, the relief was indescribable.
He was watching it on TV as we talked. His voice shook. He had friends there. And then he shouted "Oh God, there goes the other one," and he had to watch the second tower collapse, and see how his friends were dying.
I cannot stop thinking tonight about those who will never experience the relief I did when I heard our son’s voice. I cannot stop thinking about today, the impossible scenes of those two big icons collapsing. I cannot stop thinking about the Pentagon either.
The impact of this won’t ever end. Those responsible for this can take great comfort in knowing that lives are now forever destroyed. Incomes are gone. Survivors are physically and mentally scarred for life. Children all over the country are afraid now, afraid the big buildings near them might crash down on them too, that they too will burn and die.
Is America so hated? Apparently. Do I even begin to understand why? No. Should we retaliate? A decision of this magnitude should not be made in this terribly emotional moment, but that decision should be made soon. How can we ever withstand the horror of this? How can we heal? Why? Who? What? Why?
I am grateful our beloved son was at home in Utica when this happened. I cannot think of how my husband and I would feel had he been at the WTC today. I’ll never know Martin Djelaj, but I send him thanks from my heart.
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