Five years ago we were working against time on a rehab as we struggled to finish it by an absolute deadline of October 1st. That’s where we were when we received the terrible news about the World Trade Center. Every time I go into that tiny apartment I still get chilled. I can still see the little television we had set up in the corner which seems to linger ghost-like underneath the window. Its images of a hurting Manhattan in trouble continue to play over and over in today’s almost paralyzing silence.
But yesterday I was encouraged by the editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Peggy Noonon, “I Just Called to Say I Love You. ” In the piece Noonan describes some of the heroic 9/11 victims who sent their last messages to loved ones.
33 year old Flight 93 flight attentant Ceecee Lyles’ message to her husband particularly moves me. “Tell my children that I love them very much. I’m sorry, baby. I wish I could see you again.”
Then there’s the valiant statement from Tom Burnett, also on Flight 93. “We’re all going to die, but three of us are going to do something.”
A few months ago I saw the wife of American Airlines Flight 77 Captain Charles Burlingame, the pilot of the plane that hit the Pentagon. Captain Burlingame would have celebrated his 52nd birthday the next day on September 12, 2001. Mrs. Burlingame is my third cousin and we ran into each other at another family funeral. I was struck by her quiet dignified courage to continue on. I now know the terrorists are going to lose this war.
What ‘s the main meaning of the Sept 11th messages which were given to us as entire lifetimes were being lived in precious seconds rather than hours or years? To remember what is really important. Not to get caught up in the small, trivial, or pointless.
As we work in real estate we’re moving through obstacles and challenges as well as tremendous opportunities. Difficulties with tenants, a bank loan that doesn’t go through, or a deal that’s lost are only a few of the frustrations. But with the right perspective we can win and overcome every problem that comes up. That’s part of the legacy left by so many inspirational people five years ago.
And incidently, our current tenants who are renting what I’ve dubbed the ” 9/11 Apartment” are from a former communist counrty. Only a few years ago it had topped America’s enemies list.