09.11.16: Remembering

A rose honors the memory of a victim of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. 


Technical information

Aug. 31, 2016,
11:21 a.m.

40°42’40” N,
74°0'48" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EF-S 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 (22mm)


1/500th second


Everyone remembers where they were on Sept. 11, 2001, the moment the news broke about a plane hitting the north tower of the World Trade Center. The plane struck the tower at 8:46 a.m., starting a morning of terror. A second plane hit the south tower of the World Trade Center 17 minutes later, followed 24 minutes later by a plane crashing into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and — 26 minutes after that — a plane thought to be headed for the Capitol or the White House crashing in a field in Pennsylvania.

The vivid memories of that 9/11 morning returned for me two weeks ago when we visited the World Trade Center memorial in New York City and saw this rose inserted in a letter of one of the victim’s names engraved in the bronze panels surrounding the south reflecting pool at the memorial site. It is one of two identical reflecting pools marking the footprints of the twin towers, each surrounded by engraved panels carrying the names of the nearly 3,000 victims.

Today is the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks and the memories of that morning are still fresh. 

I was in my office that morning and had just changed channels from a morning news show to business news on CNBC. Monitoring news was part of my job as head of media relations for our corporation. It helped me better anticipate what reporters would be asking as the day progressed.

Moments after I switched to CNBC the anchor reported that a small plane had hit the World Trade Center. I jumped quickly to a cable news channel to see what was being reported. A few minutes later the first footage aired, showing the smoke and the damage. That’s when I realized it wasn’t a small plane and it likely hadn’t been an accident. 

I was watching in disbelief with some coworkers when the second plane hit the south tower and later as the two towers collapsed. And, like everyone else, I was glued to the TV the remainder of the day.

I was very familiar with the World Trade Center site. I knew reporters who worked or lived in buildings surrounding the towers and, during business trips to New York, I was a frequent passenger on the PATH train to Jersey City that used a station under the towers.

Less than two weeks before the attack I had ridden the PATH from the World Trade Center to visit reporters at their office in Jersey City, directly across the Hudson River from the twin towers. When I returned I bought a frozen lemonade at a stand in the mall under the towers, as I did every trip before I continued to my next appointment. But this day I noticed a yellow Labrador retriever, held on a leash by a Port Authority police officer, standing a few feet from me. I asked the officer, Sergeant Lim, if the dog would bite my hand off if I tried to pet it. He laughed, said Sirius (the dog) was trained to detect bombs and was very friendly. I petted Sirius for a few minutes while talking to the officer about the lab’s training before moving on with my day.

The day after 9/11, while watching news coverage from home, I saw a reporter interview Sergeant Lim. He was distraught, describing how he had been in his office in the basement of the south tower when the alarms were triggered. He secured the dog in its kennel, then ran upstairs to assist. Sergeant Lim was injured when the south tower collapsed, requiring treatment at a hospital. Sirius died in the collapse. His remains would be found four months later.

I had spent the day checking on friends who worked or lived in the shadows of the World Trade Center. All were OK. The thought of nearly 3,000 innocent people who died left me numb. It was difficult to comprehend or emotionally process death at that scale. 

But the news story about the death of the dog I had met just days before broke through the numbness. It hit me hard.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.