Ten years ago on September 11, 2001 I was in Atlanta on a work trip. We were 15 minutes from opening a 10,000 square foot trade show booth in a large, three-day technology trade show when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
The day was obviously confusing and frightening for everyone – information trickled in sporadically from phone calls to Internet stories, and we pieced together the horrible events of the day in a very patchwork way. With help from the Seattle office of the company I worked for, we were able to secure 2 buses and that afternoon we sent over 100 employees back to the Seattle area to be with their families.
That night my co-worker, Rob, and my client, Ali, and I ate dinner at our hotel restaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Having had to be in control all day and troubleshoot the logistical issues of the event we were managing came first, so this dinner was our first time to actually absorb the magnitude of what happened in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville. We stayed at Ruth’s Chris for five or six hours, eating, catching up on the news reports from the bar TVs, talking, crying, and generally dealing with the stress of the events of the day.
Three days later after the trade show was over and the trade show booth was struck, Ali, Rob and I packed up the rental mini van we were lucky enough to get our hands on and drove back to Seattle.
So I think it’s fitting that today, ten years later, I find myself on a work trip with Ali again. This year we’re in Anaheim and tonight we have dinner reservations at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Although I’m sure we won’t be there for six hours this time, I can guarantee you that we will reminisce about that day and we will toast to every person who lost their lives and who were affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11.
I am forever grateful to our first responders ensuring our safety and to our men and women in uniform, fighting to protect the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. I will honor you all tonight and will never forget.