Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What the Manhattan overflight fiasco really means

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video.

I was in New York on a business trip on 9/11/2001. I was on a shuttle to LaGuardia that went into the Midtown tunnel at 8:45 AM - when we came out, the bus driver told us to look at the WTC because the radio news said a plane hit it. We saw the tower burning. A few minutes later, we reached a point on the expressway where we could see the WTC again -- and both towers were burning. Couldn't figure that one out -- until later, at the airport, when we heard about the second plane, and saw the towers collapse on CNN.

My trip took me back INTO Manhattan the next afternoon. The streets were deserted, except for some taxis and emergency vehicles, and ash particles wafted through the air, even up at 57th St. Everyone at dinner and at the hotel was on the edge of panic - rumors of more bombs at the Empire State Building, worries about friends and colleagues and loved ones...

And for months after, on return trips to Manhattan, I'd be walking through the city and enjoying the fine weather -- and then come across the "Have You Seen This Person" flyers on a bus shelter, or the children's drawings sent from Iowa to a NYFD fire station.

My colleague who worked across the street from the WTC arrived at the Canal St. subway station at 8:45 AM and saw everything. He still can't talk about just what he witnessed.

I am deeply grateful to the men and women of the Bush Administration who ensured that my home state of California didn't suffer a similar attack, and that my family and friends and neighbors were spared the horror and grief that the people of New York experienced -- and still feel to this day. What this latest fiasco tells us in the starkest and most definitive terms is that President Obama has a total "9/10" mindset, and no personal understanding of the magnitude and significance of the 9/11 attacks and what they meant to the people who were directly affected.

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