Life seems to always present parallels. The world will never forget 911…….A day when countless innocent souls were attacked by a hatred that seems unfathomable. The World Trade Center took many years to build………men and women joined together to create what would one day become the symbol of American prosperity. It was no easy task……..but thousands of hard working union men and women each played a role and worked towards a common goal…….Every day these hard working tradesmen would start the day at 7 AM knowing the task ahead of them for the next 7 hours………..The foremen had the vision and the responsibility to know what each of his/her workers were best suited to accomplish during the day. What would one day become such an iconic symbol could have never been accomplished without teamwork……….It took millions and millions of man hours to create the original towers………………and a single act of hate destroyed everything in minutes.
Nothing made me prouder as an American than the day I answered the phone to report to work at the WTC . I had recently lost my cousin tragically too soon. On paper we were cousins but in reality we were brothers. Mike had volunteered his time at ground zero immediately after the attacks. Spending hours and hours on the pile burning through steel so Firemen could search the crevices he created with his torch in a search for survivors. Reporting to work on this site gave me the opportunity to feel like we were working side by side again one last time……..
Since we had Sophia, I always dreamed that I could show her what Daddy did for a living. She usually receives a kiss while she is sleeping in the morning and does not see me again until I return from work. It has always been a burning desire for me to show her what daddy does while he is away………However I knew logistically it was impossible for that to become a reality. This weekend the stars aligned………..and Sophia accomplished the impossible!
My father-in-law from Texas has been staying with us……..he drove big-rigs for many years. He can handle the van in NYC traffic….part 1 of the puzzle was complete. My wife trusted him and would be meeting me at work with the kids…..already a dream come true! My partner Joe heard Sophia would be making a trip to the site and visiting the memorial was nice……..but Joe wanted to make this visit truly special for Sophia and Jackson…….a few phone calls later he informed me that the family would get to experience something really special…..a guided tour through Freedom Tower.
So many people went above and beyond for our family that day. When we arrived on site we were cleared through a rigorous screening system, Sophia’s van would receive V.I.P Parking and would be brought on site to the loading dock of Tower 1. We were greeted by a team who wanted this to be special for our family. An operating engineer was waiting on the ground floor for us. We took the elevator up for some time, past many floors that I had worked on, and eventually we reached the highest point that the hoist could go. We moved to the interior elevators where once again the crew had another engineer waiting with an empty elevator for Sophia. She was getting the royal treatment…………
The whole day everyone was worried how Sophia would react to the high elevation and the rumbling of the elevators. We were pleasantly surprised to see she was so relaxed. We could not believe what we were reading on her monitor!…….I had so much emotion running through my body as I wheeled her throughout the floor, pointing out various landmarks on each side of the building. The world was our oyster, and we had the best seats in the house to take it all in………….and on this day Sophia and Jackson made history as the first children to ever go up in Freedom Tower.
When it was time to leave…..elevators were waiting for us each step on the way down. Our friends brought us to a special door where we avoided the lines and took the family to see the memorial. There were so many emotions as Sophia was able to put her hands into the water that now runs along the walls of the original footprints. Our guides made certain to bring Sophia over to the “Survivor Tree”. It was the only tree that not only lived through the 1993 bombings, but the collapse of the Towers on 911 as well. It stood out amongst the younger trees. Our guide who had read Sophia’s blog stated he thought it was the perfect spot to park Sophia. I had to agree……it was so fitting.
On the way out we stopped by the museum and peered at the tridents left behind from that horrific attack. Nothing could take away the pain from that dreadful day…..but rebuilding is a step in the right direction. To be able to share this with my family meant more than I could ever put into a blog………
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