That morning the sky was so blue. Clear and blue. That is rare in Pittsburgh, where mostly we have partly cloudy days. I went downtown for a 7 a.m. meeting in one of the local coffee shops. On the way back to work at the hospital, I marveled at the beauty of nature, the transition between late summer and the beginnings of Fall. Once back at the office, getting into the work of the day, when one of my employees popped in the doorway with news of an accident in New York City. A plane had flown into the World Trade Center. What happened, how could that happen? I went to the Emergency Department where a television was located. And as I watched, trying to understand the news with the patients, I saw the second plane hit the second building.
It was a very long day. We were not sure about anything. Then the Pentagon was hit. Then a plane went down near Somerset, about an hour of driving time from Pittsburgh. Later that day, I stayed late, waiting with 16 ambulances on standby for patients that never came.
A few months later, I went to Shanksville, and paused at the top of the hill, looking down at the crash site, amid snowflakes and homemade memorials. A few years later, I was in Manhatten on business and stayed across the street from Ground Zero in one of the local hotels. I watched the rebuilding of this sacred area, listening to the pounding of the great machines throughout the night.