Standing Tall.

Eleven years ago today, I stood in horror as I watched a bold symbol of my town and my nation come crashing to the ground.

It still haunts me.  Unimaginable.  Unforgettable.

My connection to the World Trade Center is very personal. I’ve looked up from the plaza and marveled at the two towers as they stretched beyond the reach of the conventional Manhattan skyline. I’ve looked down from the observatory and the posh “Windows on the World” to see the arch of humanity flowing across the earth. I’ve used the towers as a landmark that would welcome me home from a trip around the corner or around the world. I’ve visited my family in their shadows—casting a blanket of comfort as only a local would sense.

Yet, in a moment, they were gone.

What was left was the smoke, the debris and the haunting beeping of the locators of fallen firemen.  What was left was the profound sense of emptiness—not only for the towers, but for the simple lives, like mine, that graced the streets, buildings and companies day after day. Then, dust particles, slivers of paper and God only knows what blanketed the ground, almost like snow. The lingering smoke was an ethereal reminder of what was left—the intangible diffusion of lives and memories that drifted to eternity.

An after-image burned into my life.

In the blink of an eye, the towers were gone. Yet in another blink of thought, over a decade has passed.  But I still see my towers, my landmark and my beacon for home. I still can see Manhattan punctuated by the two tall, lean monuments to civilization. From any direction—off the water and from the south to the dramatic left-to-right view of Manhattan from the west—I still can see them.

And perhaps, they will always stand tall in my mind and my heart.

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