Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Decade Later

My family has always traveled to major cities for vacations to do mainly 2 things: attend MLB baseball games and visit skyscrapers and tall buildings. In fact, since I was born I have been to 28 major league baseball stadiums and countless skyscrapers. I have always been fascinated with both. This particular story and trip is one that I will NEVER forget.

When I was 16 my parents, my sister and I along with my Grandmother went on our usual summervacation consisting of tours of baseball stadiums and baseball games. This particular year we were traveling to New York City to make up a Yankees game we missed a few years back due to rain. We were all so excited because on this trip we were also going to be able to not only go up into the Empire State Building which we had done on previous trips but also go up into the World Trade Center observation deck as well.

We had determined that we like to go up into skyscrapers not only during the day but also at night. We had been to New York City before and been up to the Empire State Buildings observation deck many times and decided we wanted to see the city's skyline at night so we waited until dusk to make our way down to th World Trade Center. This was towards the end of our trip and we were coming from Wall Street and the stock exchange and on this night the traffic was very heavy. We finally got there around 8:40 or so and had to park and then make our way to the desk where observation tickets were sold. We purchased our tickets and began to look around the area of the exhibit called "A View from the Top of the World". This was an area that had shops and restaurants around the inside of the observation area. We wanted to go outside but by the time we made it to the elevator to take you outside, it was closed. We heard a worker say "I am sorry but the outside observation deck is closed for the night". I remember my sister and I BOTH crying and begging our dad to take outside. A very kind and friendly man named "Radalfo" came up from behind and said "Sir, allow me. I will take you outside."

Radalfo took us outside and allowed us to look around and see the city from the a very personal stand point. Radalfo showed each of the four sides and told us countless facts about New York and its' heritage. Finally after what seemed like only a few minutes someone else came out and told him it was time to go. He apologized so kindly to us and showed us the elevator. During the ride down to the gournd level, Radalfo shared some of his life story with us. I dont remember any other skyscraper elevator operator in all my years but him I will never forget.

Fast forward to September 11, 2001... I had made my way to my 8:00 Music Theory class and was early and waiting for the teacher to show up. I was talking with some friends about the previous weekends OU football game and out came my teacher in a panic. He said "The World Trade Center in New York has been hit. Class is cancelled." At first I did not believe him. I thought "I bet it wasnt HIT but just a bomb threat".
As I got up to make my way back to my dorm, I noticed the campus to be much more somber than usual, even for a Tuesday morning. As soon as I walked into my dorm lobby, there were screaming and crying and I knew something terrible had happened. I went up to the 8th floor where my room was and turned on the TV. Sure enough, I saw a terrible thing. President David Boren cancelled the rest of the classes that day and I pretty much watched coverage of the whole event the rest of the day. I saw things I hope I will never see again. I remember calling my mom and just crying with her saying "I hope Radalfo made it out alive".

Unfortuneatly, we never learned Radalfo's last name so I can not look up to see if he survived or not. But my family and I agree he more than likely did not since he had the attitude he did and treated us the way he did. I am sure he helped other escape before getting out himself. He just had that type of heart.

As the days, weeks and even months afterwards unfolded we saw the buildings fall and the countless lives that were effected by those terrorists attacks. I was not direclty affected but I felt the pain and agony that many felt as we saw the worst attack on American unfold. I did not lose my child or spouse or family member of any kind and I feel for those that did especially on an anniversary such as this one but even in the midst of tragedy, I am grateful. I am grateful for life and especially life eternal. Psalm 46:1- "god is our refuge and strenght, a very help in times of trouble". God is there with you even amidst tragedy. Give your heart to God and He will take care of you.
September 11, 2001... I will NEVER forget.

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