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Twenty Years Later, We Still Remember
September 10, 2021
Do you remember where you were, who you were with and what you were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001? It was a day that shook the soul of our nation and created shock waves still felt around the globe today.
As we mark the passage of two decades since the terrorist attack that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent victims, Balfour Beatty teammates across the country have shared personal accounts about that day, which is forever etched in their memories, and how it has impacted them since.
Pete Erickson (Region Business Manager, US Civils, Southeast): It was not until after [the attack] it really hit closer to home in two different ways. The first way is a gentleman in my high school graduating class was on the plane from Boston to Los Angeles that crashed into one of the towers, bringing the tragedy closer to home. Second is I can’t believe a plane came out of Boston and the terrorists stayed in the hotel/motel next to an IHOP that friends and I visited many a late night/early morning growing up.
About a year and a half ago, I traveled to New York City with my two boys where we visited the memorial. They were not born prior to September 11, 2001, but understood what had occurred. The experience of walking through the memorial and seeing pieces of the buildings, damaged fire trucks, pieces of debris, actual staircases, axes/tools and the recollection of the tragic event was humbling, sad, infuriating, touching and respectfully impressive. On the walls as you left the memorial was a message in big letters: “NO DAY SHALL ERASE YOU FROM THE MEMORY OF TIME."
We went to the water pools outlining the locations of the Twin Towers, there were names of the deceased engraved on the top of the bronzed wall for all to see and not to be forgotten. We stood at a corner of the memorial, looking across the pool, I said to my boys I am going to look for my classmate’s name, as I said that, I looked down at the names and there was his name right in front of us, the first place we went to at the pool. A feeling I will never forget. A day to never be forgotten and lives with us in many different ways.
Layli Pietri (Diversity Director, US Buildings, Mid-Atlantic): Some of us had family members working in the Pentagon, we worried about our coworkers’ safety in Washington, D.C., phone networks were overwhelmed, it was chaos and terrifying. I rushed to pick up my kids and take them home not knowing if we were safe, or how to explain what was happening around us. For a moment, race, gender, status didn’t matter, we were all just Americans.
Mark Konchar (Chief of Innovation, US Shared Services): By midafternoon, after spending the morning safely securing the jobsite and clearing the building, it felt as if we were some of the last remaining people to exit the city. It was an eerie scene in an otherwise bustling city center.
Roger Wilson (Technical Director, US Civils, Rail): I had a field engineer who left Balfour Beatty towards the end of our Amtrak project who was working on the 99th floor of the second building to be hit. She ignored the warning to stay in place and evacuated before the second plane hit. She survived unlike many others but never returned to work in the city.
Genelle McDonald (Sr. Preconstruction Manager, US Buildings, Northwest): As a native New Yorker the collapse of the Twin Towers was a very personal and profound loss for me—I celebrated my 21st birthday at the restaurant on the top floor.
Bill Heston (Estimating Manager, US Civils, Southeast): My emotions slowly changed to sadness and grief for the lives lost, along with great admiration for the first responders trying to save people in that chaos, as I watched the towers fall. And those are the same feelings I carry to this day.
Every year, we pause to remember that fateful September day, mourning the lives lost, honoring the sacrifices made, the bravery exhibited in the face of evil and the military personnel who have since served and given all in defense of freedom. Although 20 years have passed, the solemn vow to “Never Forget” has not faded from our collective consciousness. In remembering, we come together, demonstrating the resilient spirit and enduring strength of our nation.