September 11th - 5 Years On

I had been thinking about writing this post most of the day. Honestly, I was very hesitant since a small message could easily turn into a long and widing essay from all of the emotion that would pour out. After reading Rob's post however, I decided to share with you at least a little of what has been bouncing around my mind.

Like, Rob, I too was supposed to be at our World Trade Center office on that fateful day. I remember that we had just received a new shipment of lab equipment and I was going into the office to get everything hooked up so that we could start demonstrating a variety of Solaris and Sun ONE product security configurations and features. It all started as a normal day when all of a sudden my nose started bleeding just as I was exiting the shower. It took quite a while to stop and needless to say delayed my departure. Just as I was leaving, the phone rang...

My mother had called me in tears. After asking what was wrong she told me to turn on the television and that was where I got my first glace on what had happened. Like so many others, I stood in dumbfounded, staring at the television in complete and utter disbelief. As I stood watching, the second plane struck the tower where the Sun office was located, WTC2 (our office had been on the 25th and 26th floors). Realizing that something was terribly wrong, I called my wife who was pregnant with our first child and who had taken some friends to see Philadelphia historic sites for the day. Knowing that she was safe and on her way home helped to ease my mind, but that relief did not last long.

My trip to NY that day was not just for the lab, however. I had scheduled a meeting with some of my team that day to do their performance reviews. Needless to say, I could not reach anyone in the area for the greater part of the day. I honestly believed that I was responsible for the death of a good friend and colleague by scheduling our meeting for that morning. I was relieved to hear later that night that he was in Jersey City and not at the WTC when the planes struck. This was not true for many of my other friends who were in or around the WTC during that time. I remember working with some of our local teams to collect alternate e-mail addresses and telephone numbers for everyone in the area so that we could re-establish contact with everyone and verify that they were safe. Over the course of several days, thankfully, we were able to verify that all of our local employees were safe and accounted for - thanks in large part to the heroic efforts of Avel Villanueva who, keeping a level head, spearheaded the evacuation of our offices. Of the thousands who died, Sun did loose one if its own. Phil Rosenzweig, was on American Flight 11. Requiescat in pace, Phil.

I often still think the unthinkable about that day and what might have happened if I had not been delayed. The damage shown 24/7 in the news and on the Internet was mindboggling. Looking at the damage and remaining landmarks, my mind would wander to times when I had been in one area or another around that complex. Like Rob, there was many a time that I would often work at the WTC office and even work late into the night on one project or another (camping out at one of the local Marriott hotels). There were so many great memories of times spent with customers, partners, friends and even family at or around the WTC complex, and on days like today, that all comes rushing back.

Today, while the family was out for a drive, we passed a local park where a memorial service was being held. Looking out at all of the firetrucks, police cars, and military vehicles, my son asked what was going on. In typical 4 year old fashion, question begat question. My attempts at answering his questions nearly brought tears back to my eyes.

I will never forget September 11, 2001 and what it means, to me and to us all.


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