Where was God on 9/11?
Here is a story from The Wall St. Journal written just after 9/11. It has more examples of God's work on that fateful day.
Luck Among the Ruins
Monica O’Leary thought her luck had taken a turn for the worse on Monday afternoon when she got laid off from her job.
But the fact that she didn’t go to work on Tuesday turned out to be nothing short of miraculous for Ms. O’Leary. She had worked as a software saleswoman for eSpeed Inc., a technology company with offices on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center.
Ms. O’Leary, 23, is still grappling with memories of her last visit with co-workers on Monday afternoon. “I worked with a lot of guys, so I kissed them on the cheek and said ‘goodbye,’” she says. “Little did I know that it was really goodbye.”
For hundreds of people in New York, Washington and other cities affected by the deadly terrorist assault, Tuesday morning turned out to be an incredibly lucky time to oversleep, reschedule a meeting or take time off to sneak in a haircut. By doing so, they managed to sidestep the almost unimaginable fate that befell their co-workers and friends in the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Greer Epstein, who worked at Morgan Stanley & Co.’s offices on the 67th floor of the World Trade Center, escaped possible injury by slipping out for a cigarette just before a 9 a.m. staff meeting. Bill Trinkle, of Westfield, N.J., had planned to get an early start on his job as sales manager for Trading Technologies Inc., a software concern with offices on the 86th floor of the World Trade Center’s Tower One. But after fussing with his two-year-old daughter and hanging curtains in her bedroom, he missed the train that would have gotten him into the office about a half hour before the attack. Instead, he took a later train directly to visit a client company, where workers hugged him as soon as he walked through the door.
Joe Andrew, a Washington lawyer and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, had a ticket for seat 6-C on the ill-fated American Airlines flight 77 from Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles, but switched to a later flight at the last minute. “I happen to be a person of faith,” says Mr. Andrew, “but even if you aren’t, anybody who holds a ticket for a flight that went down ... will become a person of faith.”
In some cases, it was simply a good day to sustain seemingly bad luck. Nicholas Reihner was upset when he twisted his ankle while hiking during a vacation to Bar Harbor, Maine. But it was the reason he missed his Tuesday morning trip home to Los Angeles from Boston on the American Airlines flight that was hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center.
“After I sprained my ankle, I was bellyaching to my hiking companion about how life sucks,” says the 33-year-old legal assistant. “I feel now that life has never been sweeter. It’s great to be alive.”
Then there’s George Keith, a Pelham, N.Y., investment banker who had a meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday on the 79th floor of the World Trade Center. While he was driving through Central Park the night before, however, the transmission of Mr. Keith’s brand-new BMW sport-utility vehicle got stuck in first gear. The breakdown forced him to cancel the morning meeting. But by the time he called the BMW dealer Tuesday, he was anything but furious. “I told them it was the best transmission problem I’ll ever have,” he said.
David Gray, a compliance officer for Washington Square Securities, lives in Princeton, N.J., and was due to arrive by commuter train at the Trade Center for a meeting with one of the firm’s brokers just at the the the first plane hit. But a few days earlier, Mr. Gray, the husband of New York City Ballet principal ballerina Kyra Nichols, broke his foot while jumping rope at home. Mr. Gray said he had been feeling very “sheepish” about the nature of the accident, but now says, “Thank God I was a lousy jump-roper.”
After he broke his foot, he rescheduled the meeting for later in the day so that he could drive into Manhattan instead of taking the commuter train. “So I was on the New Jersey Turnpike watching the World Trade Center go up in flames, instead of being in it.”
In some cases, a chain of unlikely circumstances added up to a collective near-miss. For Irshad Ahmed and the employees of his Pure Energy Corp., the circumstances were these: A postponed meeting, a delay at a child’s school, and a quick stop at the video store. Mr. Ahmed, president of the motor-fuels maker, had been set to attend a 9 a.m. meeting in the company’s 53rd-floor conference room inside Tower One. But last week, the participants decided to push the meeting back. As a result, none of Pure Energy’s nine employees were at work when the terrorists struck. Some were at a New Jersey lab. Others were out at appointments. Mr. Ahmed’s secretary was running late at her child’s school. As for Mr. Ahmed, he decided to stop off and return a couple of Blockbuster videos. “It’s one of those little decisions you make that lead up to big events in life,” he says.
For others, a decision to defy orders proved lifesaving. Michael Moy, a software engineer for IQ Financial Inc., was at his workstation on the 83rd floor of World Trade Center Tower Two getting ready to write software when the first jetliner struck Tower One. A few minutes later, he says, building security came on the speaker and instructed occupants to remain in their offices, saying that it would be more dangerous in the streets due to falling debris from the other building.
Disobeying those instructions, Mr. Moy and his boss told the 15 or so employees in their wing to start heading down the stairs, Mr. Moy says. Once again an announcement came over the speaker system, instructing employees to return to their respective floors. A few employees decided to do so and headed toward the lobby’s elevators.
Just then, the doors of several elevators exploded, apparently because the second hijacked airplane had slammed into the building just a few floors above them.
Pandemonium followed, but being familiar with the stairway systems in the building, Mr. Moy and his boss directed co-workers to a little-used stairway that was relatively empty. As a result, dozens of people were able to hurry downstairs and escape into the street. “I’m glad we acted the way we did,” says Mr. Moy, “otherwise I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you.”
In Washington, a woman who has spent years advocating tighter security controls at U.S. airports learned first-hand Tuesday just how close a brush with death can be. Marianne McInerney, executive director of the National Business Travel Association, would have been on the doomed American Airlines flight from Dulles if not for a last-minute flight change.
Ms. McInerney, a stickler for not paying more than $1,000 for business flights, had reluctantly booked a ticket on the ill-fated flight. But last Friday, she managed to find a less expensive ticket out of Washington’s National Airport.
Ms. McInerney, 38, says she intends to use her position with the NBTA to raise the issue of lax security more forcefully with the airlines and Congress. “We have thought for so long that we are six degrees separated from any instance [of terrorism] we see. But yesterday we became separated by one degree, if that.”
Marya Gwadz can thank her unborn son for being away from her 16th story office in Tower Two. Ms. Gwadz, 37, a principal investigator for the nonprofit National Development Research Institute, usually gets to work as early as 8:45 each morning. But on Tuesday, 8-1/2 months pregnant with her first child, she was feeling tired so she caught a later subway from her Brooklyn apartment, and got out a stop early. “It was a beautiful stop and a beautiful day,” she recalls. Then she saw the flames, and later watched her own building crumble. “At that point, I grabbed my stomach and started to run,” she says.
In some cases arising from Tuesday’s tragedy, the questions of survival and guilt are unusually complex.
Convicted of a 1986 robbery and killing, Texas inmate Jeffrey Eugene Tucker was scheduled to be executed Tuesday evening. Instead, he got a last-minute, 30-day stay from Gov. Rick Perry because the U.S. Supreme Court was closed, preventing last-minute appeals.
His lawyer, Robert C. Owen, of Austin, Texas, says he was relieved. “You can’t imagine the feeling of dread you get from representing someone when your court of last recourse has just gone into hiding and isn’t answering phone calls.”
by ROBERT TOMSHO, BARBARA CARTON and JERRY GUIDERA, September 2001
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