Richard J. Kennedy
Director, Military Relations
While the Pentagon and the crash site of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania were two of the locations involved in the attacks of 911, I think people would agree that the setting that most often comes to mind in remembering that day is “ground zero”, the site of the World Trade Center.
I have personal experience with the World Trade Center. In the eighties I worked in lower Manhattan. I used to walk by the twin towers every morning on my way to my office. Sometimes I would take the subway uptown from the basement of the towers or the PATH train that ran over to Hoboken, NJ where I would visit friends. Every few weeks I would have lunch in one of the restaurants in the buildings. Once I even visited the outdoor observation walkway on the roof of the south tower.
During my time in New York I remember often coming out of a subway station, emerging to street level and being totally disoriented. I would instinctively look for the World Trade Center towers to get my bearings, especially at night. Even in the granite canyons of Manhattan you could more often than not see the towers and immediately I would know which way was which.
Just as I used the towers as a way of orienting myself, the terrorists of 911 deliberately targeted the World Trade Center towers because of their visibility and symbolism. The towers were imposing icons of commerce and trade and capitalism and they were located in the global center of finance and media. In the gleaming sun of that cloudless September morning they must have looked even bigger than usual.
Despite the destruction and death of that day the things that the World Trade Center represents and the uniquely American spirit of renewal are front and center in the rebuilding of the new World Trade Center. The building itself will be exactly the same height as the old tower, 1,368 feet. Including its sculpted spire, the total height will be 1,776 feet above street level. 1776 is, of course,the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States.
People continue plotting to destroy the United States but their plans fail because in the face of a threat Americans always fight back and rebuild. Seeds of destruction only feed our national will to thrive.
Richard J. Kennedy is the American InterContinental University Director of Military Relations and a U.S. Navy veteran.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the University.