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The 9/11 Attack: Remembering horror & heroism

This haunting lyric, made famous by the legendary Janis Joplin, has been stuck in my brain as the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches.

As a survivor of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, I often wonder how it would feel to experience a single day without the trauma – and the guilt – of living through September 11.

I know that’s not possible. I expect to suffer from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor guilt for the rest of my life. I also know that, no matter how painful, I have an obligation to serve as a living witness to the horror and heroism of 9/11.

Here in Athens, Georgia, where our family has lived for nearly five years, most of our friends and colleagues have never met another World Trade Center survivor. That includes a whole generation of young men and women who were not even born 20 years ago.

They have never been taught that the heroes of September 11 – both uniformed personnel and civilians – enabled an estimated 25,000 people to escape the World Trade Center complex that day, one of the most successful evacuations in human history.

That’s why I try to make time every semester to meet with University of Georgia Professor Yan Jin’s Crisis Communication class. Her students always appreciate learning about these heroic men and women.

Heroes like David Lim, a police officer with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who rescued countless people – including me – from a blocked stairwell in Tower One minutes before the building collapsed. David – a K-9 officer whose partner, Sirius, was killed in the attacks – was later trapped in the rubble for nearly five hours. He retired as a Port Authority Police lieutenant in 2014. We remain friends to this day…Read more

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