I remember where I was on 9/11 when I first heard about the attack on the Twin Towers. It was a beautiful Midwest morning in Chicagoland, and I was just pulling into the parking lot of my office building in one of the near west suburbs. I remember listening to the radio in disbelief that one of the towers had been struck by a plane.

The following video is one of the most compelling views I’ve found so far…mostly because it is not a newscast, but rather an account of an average New York resident and what they saw from their living room window that day.

At the moment I first heard about it on the radio, I thought it was an accident… some horrible miscalculation or mechanical error. But as I gathered up my things and entered the building, I read on people’s faces that something very wrong was happening. In the break room, dozens of people were gathered around the small TV and I quickly learned that this was not an accident. It was a terrorist attack and, in horror, we witnessed the impact of the second airplane on the other tower. The rest of the day was a blur of media alerts, and there was a palpable absence of air traffic in the sky that day and the days to follow.

I’ve heard from other TPH employees that were here in 2001 that the scene was very similar here in our office as well. The TV was glued to the news all day and there was hardly a time that someone wasn’t in the break room in order to get an update. While our thoughts and prayers were with all those in peril and with the first responders on the scene, we really just tried to get through the day and it was next to impossible to concentrate on work. We knew things just had to get done and, in a way, we used that necessity as a crutch to keep us going, unaware of the ultimate effect these events would have on us, our business, and the nation as a whole. Knowing that flights were grounded for an indefinite period of time could’ve had any number of repercussions. For example, that morning a number of our employees were in Columbus, Ohio for a business meeting and at the last minute were forced to drive home because flying back just wasn’t an option. And in the office, we dealt tenuously with the tumultuous emotions building throughout our very diverse group. We were, and still are, a diverse mixture of Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Hindus…all struggling with very strong emotions about what we had heard and what had happened. There was fear, anger, sadness, and shock. Around midday a decision was made to halt business, gather in the conference room, and talk about it. The company owners wanted to make sure that we all pulled together as a family, and that we all understood that our work place was a safe place. One woman, a Muslim, through tearful eyes, offered up a prayer in her native language, and it was the most haunting and soothing thing to hear. Though we all felt the grief of a nation, we pulled together to make sure that we could muddle through that day and in the coming weeks. In that small way, by our company and by companies across the nation, a message was sent to the terrorists that they cannot break us and that we would persevere.

Today on the anniversary of 9/11, we want to remember the victims of the attack and the heros who risked their lives to save others. It’s a testimony of the American spirit that gives us all pride today to be Americans.

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