Pounds: Coffee at Ground ZeroWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
My mother, Therese, has lived in the New York City area for most of her 83 years. She often described the World Trade Center to me as “your generation’s building,” and she was correct. On Sept. 11, 2001, I was working as The Blade’s general manager and was at work when the attacks started. My staff was in my office and many were crying. We watched the events unfold for about 30 minutes and then got to work on the afternoon edition. Not many times did The Blade ever do an extra edition but that day was unique in many ways.
I spoke with my brother Richard in New York City later in the morning (when I could finally get through with cellphone service). He was walking his son, Jason, to day care as he would on any normal morning. He lived in the Village (an area that was blocked off for two weeks after the disaster) and walked with Jason on his shoulders to the day care facility. He told me that the second plane to hit the towers flew right over his head. He said when he went to the day care office and saw on TV what was happening, he and his son went home to the rest of their family.
I remember thinking of my Uncle George and a cousin who had an investment office in the towers and wondering if they had made it out. I learned later that day that they had moved offices two months earlier, but I was worried for hours thinking they were in there.
I remember going home to Montclair, N.J., (12 miles west of New York City) for Thanksgiving that year. That was the last week before they plowed down the walls of the towers that remained, the ones described as “potato chips” in the photos.
My brother Don and I took a gamble, visiting the site at about 1 a.m. Don suggested we get two cups of coffee.
I told him I didn’t drink coffee and he said, “Not for you, it’s for them,” pointing at the police officers guarding Ground Zero that cold November night. We gave them the coffee and they let us walk in a bit further than most could and gave us a view of Ground Zero that most casual observers never saw. We went to the city during that weekend and toured Ground Zero. The smell of jet fuel and the ugly, nightmarish smell of burnt flesh is something I will never forget.
As we observe the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the sights and memories of my visit to Ground Zero are as vivid as if I experienced them yesterday. I do not have any grand summation or special wisdom from the event, just an empty ache for “my generation’s building and the countless lives that were forever changed that day.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.