17 years ago today, 9/11

Do you remember where you were 17 years ago today? Most of us do because it was one of those days that will live in infamy, like when JFK was killed or Martin Luther King.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was in the news room of a weekly newspaper that focused entirely on local news — The Ballston Journal. It was also our deadline day, so our small, two-man satellite office was focused entirely on getting that week’s paper out.

A call from our stringer with vague details did not fully sink in because the world outside of our picture window seemed normal. Cars continued to drive by, pedestrians seemed blissfully unaware as they perused the downtown village shops. In downtown Ballston Spa, life did not seem like much had changed at all.

We did not have a television or radio in the office to keep us abreast of late breaking national news — the Journal was all about local news. It was where I learned the nuts and bolts of having my finger on the pulse of our tiny corner of the world because that is what our readers wanted from us. All local.

It wasn’t until we reached the Clifton Park office where our paper was printed we became aware of the magnitude of the crisis. When my editor, Charles Hogan, and I walked in, we immediately knew something was dreadfully wrong.

The entire staff was huddled in the conference room, all eyes on the TV. We watched in horror as a second plane hit the south tower, the north tower already beginning to show signs of collapse. The images were surreal.

At a time when papers were still put together by cutting and pasting, Charles and I had to go finish the paper.

I can’t tell you what our headlines were that week, but I do know I spent the rest of the day and evening staring at the television in disbelief.

The skies were ominously quiet as all airline flights were suspended.

That day changed a lot for so many. In our tiny village, one of our neighbor’s brother died in the collapse of the north tower.

Michael Canty, was from the village, but lived in Schenectady. His brother, Bill Canty of Canty Financial Associates, lived just around the corner from our office and supplied the crossword puzzle for our newspaper. Michael worked on the 92nd floor as a commodities broker and he was only 30 years old.

When I interviewed Bill later that week, he recalled how much Michael loved his office, his job and the view he had. It was one of the toughest interviews I ever had to do. I do not believe Michael’s remains were ever identified.

Every year, we come together as a nation to remember those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack and we must never forget they were wives and daughters, mothers and grandmothers, sons and fathers, husbands and grandfathers. They were someone’s child. Their lives, and the lives of many of the responders, were cut short by men with murder and mayhem on their minds. Men who wanted to divide this country and cause chaos.

While some of that chaos, distrust and hate remains in our world today, let’s not forget those souls.

Let’s remember the bravery, and ultimately love for the people of this country the ordinary citizens, responders and those on Flight 93 showed.

Let’s remember we are a country of unity and strength and let’s say a prayer today for the survivors of that day and for the family members left behind.

Just like we do not want to ever forget those who lost their lives 17 years ago, and those still dying today, let’s also never forget who we are as a country and as individual Americans. It is our love — our love for our country, our fellow countrymen, our compassion and our empathy that makes us a great country.

Patricia Older