LB Gschwandtner
LB Gschwandtner

Sept 11th.


On that day in 2001, I was at home in Virginia when the phone rang and a friend told me to turn on the TV. The first plane had hit the North Tower. Smoke billowed out of the gash from the 92nd. to the 98th. floors.

My daughter, the artist, 24 years old at the time, was in her Chelsea studio on west 23rd. Street. My husband was in midtown preparing for a morning meeting.

I called my daughter first. She was frantic, bewildered, in shock. Not knowing what was happening or if there was going to be a larger attack, I told her to leave her studio immediately and walk uptown away from the crash and that I would call her father to meet her. I said I would have him call her back with the meeting place. We had no idea at that time that another plane was going to plow into the South Tower or that both buildings would collapse. Or that a plane was headed for the Pentagon 38 miles from my house or that another plane somewhere above a field in Pennsylvania would go down in flames as the passengers, who had received calls on their cells with the news, bravely took control to save others from the fate of those in New York.

I called my husband, who was unaware of anything wrong. When he turned on the TV, with me on the phone, I explained that our daughter was on her way to meet him. I told him to call her right then and arrange a place to meet. I told him to make it somewhere as safe as possible and not in a prominent or tall building.

I’m sure we all remember Franklin Roosevelt’s famous remark about a date that will live in infamy. This was the second such date. We all remember the images from 9-11. We all remember the shock as we watched in disbelief. Yes there was infamy. But also incredible bravery and selflessness. These are the times that define a nation. Ours will always be defined by how we respond in times of great peril. We do not turn against each other. We run to the danger. We offer our help. Even in our grief and pain, we discover the best in ourselves and each other.

As my daughter ran uptown that day to meet her father, she called me once more before the tower collapsed and with it the communication tower on its roof, cutting off cell phone communication from New York.

As she got within sight of her father, she asked me, as a small child might, “Why did they do this?”

1 Comment

  1. Well written. I was sitting at my desk at Selling Power when all of this went down. I remember cell service and the Internet was essentially down and we struggled to get updates. Phone calls from our spouses kept us in the loop. When I got home I tried to explain what had happened to our kids. They didn’t get it.

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