LENA MITCHELL: Another look back at the World Trade Center of 2001

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

Much has been written in the weeks leading up to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the downing of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
I, too, have indelible memories of that time, both before and after Sept. 11.
On May 14, 2001, Daily Journal co-worker Mary Armstrong and I traveled by train from Washington, where we were visiting other friends, to Newark, N.J.
We were headed to spend a few days with our former co-worker, Ketrina Hoskin, who had moved on from the Daily Journal a few years earlier to work at The Wall Street Journal.
When Trina first moved to New York she lived in Brooklyn, a short subway ride under the East River to the Dow Jones building in the heart of the Manhattan financial district. Later she bought a townhouse in Newark, with a longer commute but a better cost of living.
Trina went off to work as usual the following day, with plans for us to take the train into the city and meet her for lunch and some sightseeing.
This was Mary’s first trip to New York, but I’d spent quite a bit of time there as a college student in Philadelphia, only 90 miles and a short train ride away.
Visiting Trina, though, and having a chance to see the inner workings of a journalistic giant like The Wall Street Journal was an extraordinary treat.
Mary and I took the subway ride with Trina into New York, where we exited at the World Trade Center stop, just a short distance from the Dow Jones building.
While Trina headed to work, Mary and I explored the subway tunnels looking for the right restaurant to have lunch. Workers at the sandwich shop where we ate were amused when, in the midst of a huge variety of rolls, rye, pumpernickel and other bread varieties, Mary asked for the traditional southern “white bread” for her sandwich.
Our next stop was the TKTS booth two levels up, on the mezzanine of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, to purchase our discount tickets to a Broadway show.
After securing our tickets to “Beauty and the Beast,” a substitute for “The Lion King” which had no performance that day, we headed to the line going up to the World Trade Center observation deck. The line was always a long one, and this day was no exception.
Seeing our day fading and the time running short to get down to The Battery for a ferry ride out to the Statue of Liberty, we left the World Trade Center line with the thought that “We’ll do this another time.”
That was four months before the fateful day when the Twin Towers were destroyed forever.
I returned to the site one month after Sept. 11, a place that by then had become the hallowed spot renamed “Ground Zero.”
I was again traveling with a Daily Journal co-worker, Leslie Criss. She and I were off for a much-anticipated two-week visit to Spain.
How difficult it was to comprehend that the places Mary and I had visited only a few months earlier in such a carefree spirit had been changed so tragically.
A space once occupied by two towers of human imagination, ingenuity and hope was replaced by a huge crater filled with mangled steel, machinery and the smoke of its fiery destruction still wafting from its depths.
Not only were the towers destroyed, several surrounding buildings were left uninhabitable as well, the Dow Jones building that housed The Wall Street Journal’s main operations among them.
Fortunately, as Trina and her co-workers were spared, and her home across the Hudson River was safe, The Wall Street Journal also had other facilities nearby where they continued operations.
As of the Sept. 11, 10th anniversary last week, Dow Jones and many other businesses had returned to locations in the financial center at the heart of Manhattan, while many others chose to relocate permanently.
The new structures and memorials that are rising in the space where the Twin Towers once stood are visible representations of how we as individuals find ways to make meaning of life-changing events: We rebuild and go on, as we remember and honor those who were lost.
Lena Mitchell writes a Sunday column for the Daily Journal. Contact her at lena.mitchell@journalinc.com.