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By PHIL JUNKER, Guest Columnist
My head is filled with thoughts related to Sept. 11, 2001. They are numerous and difficult to organize. That may be the case for many Americans.
I know exactly what I was doing when the first twin tower was hit. My wife Phyllis and I had made plans to attend an outdoor-writers conference. We planned to take our motorhome, so I had scheduled some minor maintenance at a Tell City automotive garage.
When I arrived at the garage with the motorhome on the morning of Sept. 11 a radio was playing in the back of the shop. A newsman was talking about a plane crashing into a World Trade Center tower. A short time later, the second plane hit. Being an old news guy and retired Air Force officer, it didn’t make sense.
The rest of the day, and for several days, I was glued to the television and radio. It was hard to believe. I couldn’t get enough information.
The thoughts and mental images from the scene poured into my head and my heart. I felt for the victims, their families and their friends. And to me, the physical loss of the buildings also was like losing a friend.
For four years, I rode the train from Mt. Lakes, N.J., to Hoboken, then boarded the Port Authority Trans Hudson Train. I rode under the river to the train station in the basement of one of the Twin Towers. Each evening, I made the reverse trip.
I can still see the escalators which carried me daily up from the lower level station. There were sandwich shops and restaurants. I often visited them for lunch.
There also were other restaurants higher in the building. And if I remember right, in the early days of CNN, the network had an office there that covered Wall Street. I sometimes worked with its reporters.
Windows on the World was a wonderful restaurant atop one of the towers. The food was good, but the view was even more spectacular. I remember attending a Christmas party there. The view at night was breathtaking.
I worked about a block and a half away in media relations for AT&T. It still is hard for me to imagine or believe the towers are gone.
One day a wacky guy using suction cups on his hands and feet decided to climb one of the towers. Fred Heckman, the former news director of WIBC in Indianapolis, was a good friend. He called me and asked if I could see the climbing guy, who I think called himself The Human Fly.
“Sure,” I said. The next thing I knew I was live on WIBC providing an account of the nutty guy’s climb. In fact, I did several reports for Fred.
I have many memories of the now missing beautiful buildings. I still see them in my mind.
Had the timing been a bit different, I could have been in one of the towers.
My fear is that something similar will happen again. It is hard to protect against people who have no respect for human dignity, for life and freedom.
We do the best we can.