WTC Tragedy Remembered:
address was given by Mr. Paul Carris during the service.
September 11, 2005
9-11 Memorial Service
Photos and story]
Thank you Rev Glasser for that
introduction. To the Millers, I know nothing can truly heal your loss, but I am proud to
be part of our community that is here to honor Robert and keep him and you in our thoughts
and prayers. To Hasbrouck Heights, from the minute I got home four years ago with friends
waiting at my house right up the kind words I still get today, I thank you all for the
support and friendship you continue to show my family and me.
I am never sure what to expect on
this day. Each anniversary emotions kind of sneak up on me and Ive noticed the same
thing with my fellow workers at the Port Authority. We start the day and then realize at
some point there is this emptiness that comes. But that emptiness, whether it is from
losing a friend or family member on 9-11, or from Hurricane Katrina as we have so recently
seen, is something that comes anytime we lose someone close to us. Every loss is a
tragedy, especially when the person is young or still living a vital life.
Like most of you, I have thought
countless times about what happened 4 years ago today
and all I can come up with is
there is no human explanation or human rationalization to help
us understand why some of us survived and some did not. 9-11 was a TRAGEDY on a global
and deeply personal scale and in this day and age when we mince words and twist
meanings to suit our purposes, there can be no spin put on the meaning of tragedy.
We could spend the rest of our
lives trying to figure why 9-11 took place, or being bitter, angry at the terrorists or
the government, or being depressed over it
but, to what end?
destructive emotions that can consume us and prevent those of us who are still here from
living the fullness of life that God has blessed us with
we could risk missing
opportunities to have relationships with new people and improve relationships with those
we already know
we could risk missing in the important things happening in the lives
of our loved ones.
One of the things I have learned
is that "We cannot always control what happens to us, but we can control how we
choose to react to it."
That statement is appropriate for
any time in our lives, but it is also a statement much easier said than done.
Picking up on what Rev. Glasser
had to say, I know that God allows good to come from tragedy
And there are
good things that happened this day 4 years ago and since, which I want to point out:
Most importantly, up to
25,000 people survived and it wasnt just by accident. Almost all of them
including my friend Judith and I can chalk that up to the efforts of the fire, police,
emergency workers, paramedics and our fellow workers.
Each year more stories are
revealed about regular people who helped each other that day. Looking at the television
images it is hard to believe how calm everyone was in the stairwells. We were stopped for
10 15 minutes at a time and no one panicked. People shared water with each other,
made room for the firemen coming up the stairs and the injured that needed to get down
A story that has not been
heard much is that after the 1993 bombing, a large structural girder was placed between
the Lobby of the North Tower and the Marriott Hotel
the hotel was located in
between the two towers and was severely damaged in 93. The girder was to add
structural stability to the reconstruction of the hotel. After the first jet hit the north
tower, where the Port Authority offices were
the department directors were told to
assemble in the Marriott lobby. Most of the agencys directors were in that lobby as
the south tower collapsed and crushed the Marriott. Those people happened to be standing
under that girder and they all survived. The engineers who designed that girder used to be
teased about its overdesign and what was considered at the time an extravagant cost. And
its a good thing they did
Of the several funerals I
attended after September 11, the remarkable thing about them was that anywhere from
several hundred to over a thousand people were in attendance at each one. To realize that
each of our lives touch so many others is important and it is so easily forgotten when we
are focused on our own problems.
A friend of mine at
the Port is from Pakistan. He carried an elderly man with cancer who was weakened from
chemo treatments down many flights of stairs that day. No one cared that my friend is a
Another friend of
mine took the only photos from inside the WTC stairwells and he wrote a book titled
"WALKING FORWARD LOOKING BACK." It is a good message because it is natural to
look back and remember those we lost, but it is more important to cope with the hurt, the
loss, the anger and keep moving forward to do something with our lives. For me, my faith
has gone from doctrines that were mostly learned and studied to a faith that I experience
These are some of the good things
I think about to help me control how I react to September 11, or any bad event in my
But, focusing on the good does not mean I will ever forget the evil which
occurred that day
. and I am not sure I want to. What I can
do, however, and what you can do, by focusing on the good
is to positively remember
and honor the memory of those who lost their lives that day.
So PLEASE, I ask that you
Pray for this world we
Pray for our Country, our
leaders and our military.
Pray for our community.
Pray for each other; pray with your
actions, by helping each other the way everyone in the WTC stairwells helped each other
four years ago. Thank you and God Bless you all.
Pauls heroic efforts, as told by Judith Toppins story:
"Angels Walk Among Us"