Celebrating the 9-11 Survivors

By Art Gallagher

Part of me would like to forget September 11, 2001.

It was a horrible day, parts of which I can remember like it happened last week.  The phone call from my assistant asking if I’d heard about the plane crashing into the World Trade Center.  The meeting where we didn’t discuss our work but were listening to the radio reports of the incident when the second plane hit.  The horror when we realized that our country was under attack. The tearful phone call from my father who feared for a family member who worked in downtown Manhattan. The crowd that gathered in my Highlands backyard watching the smoke in the distance and the ferry boats docking with soot covered strangers. Phones stopped working.  Sending my employees home early. The look on my wife’s face.

That horrible day was followed by a terrible several months during which I saw and smelt the smoke rising from ground zero. I remember the funeral processions, many without hearses, that drove past my Belford office for months on their way to and from St. Mary’s Chapel in New Monmouth.  I remember the yellow ribbons on neighbors’ homes that seemingly never came down.   I remember the emotional jolt I had during those months when I traveled outside of the area… to St. Louis, to Florida and even to South Jersey…how life was somehow still normal for the people I was interacting with in those places.  The terrorist attacks were something they saw on TV.

Compared to people who lost a parent, a spouse, or a close friend, my September 11 and ensuing months were unpleasant, not horrific. Compared to the people who were in lower Manhattan and survived while witnessing others jump from the towers, my day was just a bad day. Compared to the people who helped others get out of the towers, my day was a headache. Compared to the first responders who survived but witnessed the deaths of their brethren, my September 11 was just another day.

Today let’s celebrate the resiliency and strength of the widows and widowers who raised their children over the last 16 years. Who created new families and joy while never forgetting their loved ones lost.  Let’s celebrate the children who lost a parent that day and are now young adults starting their own families and careers.  Let’s appreciate the people who have built new careers and companies while dealing with survivors’ guilt. Let’s pray for and support the people, adults and children, who have not recovered heroically, but who are still struggling.

Part of me would like to forget that day. The memories feel disruptive. For some people, our friends and neighbors, the memories of that day are constant and unforgettable. Today is for them.

Posted: September 11th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: 9-11, Freedom, Monmouth County News, News, Unite States of America | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

6 Comments on “Celebrating the 9-11 Survivors”

  1. Thank you said at 10:14 am on September 11th, 2017:

    to Dir. Burry and her entire committee and town, for the lovely 9/11 commemoration in Colts Neck, last night. A wonderful speech by Theresa Velardi whose dad died at 37 that day, when she was just 6 years old. May we never forget those who died,and responded, and that our freedom is always at risk: we must be continually strong and resolute that evil will not take us down and win.

  2. Gump said at 2:40 pm on September 11th, 2017:

    I worked with the few Marsh IT survivors they had in replicating/enhancing their global network WAN.
    One of the 3 fellows I thought was 10-14 years my senior. He was actually 13 years my junior……his story……they thought it was a bomb. Suddenly this loud explosion occurred which pushed everything/anybody that wasn’t nailed down into the opposite side wall. There was a pile, a heap of desks, dividers, cabinets, people, computers, etc. He said he was able to stand up and started pulling objects off the pile to free people who were trapped underneath it. Anyone they freed started doing the same.
    But then it got obscenely hot and quickly. He said the floor was glowing red and coming his way. What saved him was a staircase away from the glowing floor. As he descended he started to hear primal screaming and realized folks were still under & trapped in the pile as the burning plane gasoline flowed underneath them. Not just anonymous folks. Marsh was a tight firm, the folks knew each other well in and out of work. So each horrific scream he heard he could put a name and face to, even 10 flights down he was hearing them scream. His hair had turned white since then and he said he rarely sleeps.

  3. Tom Stokes said at 4:47 pm on September 11th, 2017:

    I remember vividly that day, as do most Americans. I was driving on the Parkway going over a bridge when my eye caught a flash way off to the east – and the radio announced a second plane had hit the Twin Towers. My immediate outrage was rather vicious “Obam bin Laden, you son of a b**ch”.

    Perhaps not Christian in tone, but turned out to be accurate in fact.

    The beauty of that day was in how every American came together; drivers were more considerate, people were more respectful, everyone shared the grief and horror of that day. What happened to one American, happened to us all.

    We all now understand how our countrymen felt on 7 December 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

    The true test of our character is not whether you fall down (we all do) but in how you get up and continue.

    In war, the military teaches you to divide the enemy and conquer. Unfortunately, politics has become war-like; with opponents branded “the enemy” (and both parties do this, to our own disgrace).

    It would be nice, as well as best for our country, if all Americans could try to put aside the “identity politics” that attempts to divide us, and remember September 11th not only for those who died, and their families and friends, but also for each other.

    We are all Americans first, we all bleed the same color blood (red), and we all share the same dreams of providing a better life for our families. Let us always strive to come together, regardless of party affiliation, to unite around whoever the people have chosen as their leader, whether we like it or not. In unity, there is strength and progress; in division there is nothing but defeat and detioration.

    I urge all to help those who have been hurt by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma by donating to charities who actually help those in need. My recommendations continue to be Samaritan’s Purse, the Salvation Army and the Knights of Columbus; give to whichever charity does the most with the contributions to actually help the people hurt in these disasters. Do this in rememberance of those innocent victims who were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

    Make us a better America and a better people. May God Bless America, and Bless all of our Armed Forces defending our country and way of life, and Bless all of our first responders who put their lives in danger to help others!

  4. Truth said at 5:57 pm on September 11th, 2017:

    Here’s a suggestion: After we are done recalling the 3,000 or so Americans that were killed on 9/11, perhaps we could take a moment or two today to think about all of those innocent civilians that have been killed by the US military in recent years.


  5. Tom Stokes said at 6:58 pm on September 11th, 2017:


    Oops .. you left out one important “truth” – the article you link to was from the “Fars News Agency”. Wikipedia indicates that this is a “semi-official” news agency of the Government of Iran. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fars_News_Agency

    I guess that was only a “minor” error on your part. Now we know that you opinions are controlled by the Iranians!

  6. To all naysayers and anti- Americans: said at 10:06 pm on September 11th, 2017:

    On this sad day of remembrance, for so many who innocently lost so much, let me be clear: name another place on this earth where people still will kill themselves to get to- and, you don’t like us,or like it it here? – LEAVE! Please!