(Tuesday September 11, 2018, is the Seventeenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that claimed thousands of lives in lower Manhattan, Washington DC and a field in Pennsylvania in 2001. This commentary was first published in 2006 and has since been updated.)

There are events in one’s life that occur that are unforgettable. Moments in which you can remember exactly every detail as if you are watching it in your mind’s eye in living color. That’s exactly what the events of 9-11-2001 are to me and so many others. If you are from New York then it becomes a “degrees of separation” as to whom or how many folks you know that were directly affected by those terror attacks that day.

That day started like any other work day for me; I was up early and left the house for the office around 5:30 or so. I flipped on the radio to Star 98.7 and was listening to music until the then DJ, Danny, came on and said it looked like an accident had just happened at the World Trade Centers in New York. They thought a plane had hit one of the towers. I called my wife and asked her to turn on CNN and see if there was any better information.

When I got to work I immediately turned on the television in my office and shortly after that watch in total disbelief as the second plane slammed into tower two in lower Manhattan. It was at that moment that I think everyone realized that we were under attack.

The only thing that ran through my mind was where my sister, Caroline, was because she worked at a brokerage house in the City. Did my sister take the train in through lower Manhattan that morning or did she go across the 59th Street Bridge? She used to mix up her commute route on a regular basis as it was more interesting to her. I also was flashing on some friends and relatives that, at the time, were FDNY & NYPD. Were any of our relatives or friends responding to this horrific incident?

As I stood in front of the television, I was alternating between calling my sister on her cell phone and calling my wife. I couldn’t get through to my sister. Each time I spoke to my wife there were more and more neighbors huddled around our TV at home. I found out later that some thieves stole the cable routers from the underground vaults in our neighborhood the night before. Most of the area was without TV! We were one of the few families on the street with satellite television at the time.

My office started to fill up with colleagues watching the news coverage. A Studio Security host popped his head in and said that the studio was shutting down for the day and that everyone should go home. I decided that I didn’t want to leave at least until I had gotten a hold of my sister.

Eventually, Caroline got through to me and let me know that she was okay. They were evacuating her building and that she was headed up town by foot to cross over the 59th Street Bridge into Queens and then home.

Once I knew she was okay I headed back to my home in Stevenson Ranch to be with my family and to trade calls with family members all over the east coast. We had a cousin at the Pentagon, friends and family all over the City. It was a constant round of calls coming in and calls being made trying to find out information and to pass it as well.

In the end, a couple that were friends of my mother-in-law were on Flight 11 out of Boston. The weekend before they were at her house having dinner and discussing their trip to Los Angeles to visit their daughter. A photographer that my wife had worked with was on one of the other flights, as was a classmate of my brother-in-law. All in all, our family knew five people on those fateful flights that morning.

Before September 11th most people only knew the World Trade centers as being some of the tallest buildings in the world. Some even thought they were the tallest buildings still but knew little else about these structures.

The World Trade Center was conceived in the early 1960s by the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Development Association to revitalize the seedy radio row dominated by electronic stores. Chase Manhattan Bank chairman David Rockefeller, founder of the development association, and his brother, then New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, pushed hard for the project, insisting it would benefit the entire city.

In order to create the 16-acre World Trade Center site, five streets were closed off and 164 buildings were demolished. Construction required the excavation of more than 1.2 million cubic yards of earth, which was used to create 23.5 acres of land along the Hudson River, now part of Battery Park City in lower Manhattan. During the peak construction, 3,500 people worked at the site. A total of 10,000 people worked on the towers; 60 died during its construction.

I can remember my father taking me, my brother, and sisters up to the observation deck of Tower 2 on the 107th floor. It was spectacular! On a clear day, and it was really clear when we went, we were told that you could see up to 55 miles out in any direction. Most summer days you could see the twin towers sticking up on the horizon 35 miles or so away at Jones Beach on Long Island.

As often as I go back to New York over the past ten years I still have not gone down to ground zero. Too me it’s like not wanting to go to a funeral; I’d much rather have the memories of an old friend when they were alive and well. (It’s 2018 and I still have not gone done to ground zero.)

When I do go back to New York, like I do every year, I always go down to Jones Beach and take a walk along the boardwalk. Regardless of the time of year and it is usually winter more often than not, it is refreshing to walk along the beach and it always brings back great memories.

Out of habit, I always look off to the west towards New York City to see the two towers. These days when I close my eyes I can still see them out there on the horizon like the memory of an old friend.

Dave Bossert- Commentary (Updated 2018; first published September 2006)

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on a number of boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.