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A 9/11 Story: How It Changed Us, What We’ve Learned

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Firemen work around the World Trade Center after both towers collapsed in New York City, September 11, 2001. (Reuters) Life must be lived while it is with us. And we are beaten only when we allow ourselves to be beaten.

One bright, sunny, seemingly perfect Tuesday morning in September, everything changed. The thing about the world changing is, though, it doesn’t stay changed.

***

I was there on September 11, but mercifully, not quite there — as I wrote when this was all fresh and raw, I worked in Tower One (the north tower, the first to be hit), and I would normally have been at my desk at 8:48 a.m., but voting in the Bloomberg vs. Badillo mayoral primary, as well as my son’s first day of pre-K, delayed me. It was the first day of school for some New York schools that day. One wonders how many others were delayed by school, or by voting, or by being up too late the night before watching the Giants on Monday Night Football. In my case, it meant that I was standing on the street corner by the Chambers Street subway stop when the second plane hit the south tower.

I was just shy of my 30th birthday then, a young lawyer five years into my career. Our offices were halfway up the building; I’d worked on the 58th and 54th floors. There was time for people in my office to evacuate, but my law firm had one fatality, an older woman who had to stop to get oxygen on the long walk down the stairs. None of the firemen working the oxygen stations made it out. Some of my colleagues saw horrifying things, such as the fireballs that shot down the elevator shafts and out into the lobby. It could have been much worse. My firm had gone through a merger in May 2001, and the plan in a few months was to close the Midtown office of the firm we merged with and move the lawyers remaining there to one of the floors near

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