It’s a date that conjures all kinds of memories and feelings for all Americans. Everyone has a story of where they were the day terrorists attacked on American soil.
Some heard the news from family or friends. Most watched from the safety of their homes or workplaces in horror and disbelief as a newscasters tried to make sense of the chaos.
For Brainerd native Judson Weaver, the terror unfolded not on TV, but a couple hundred feet from his office in New York City.
“Someone said the building was falling,” Weaver said in a 2001 interview with the Brainerd Dispatch. “That was the point I thought I might be checking out of this world.”
Ten years later, Weaver joins the rest of the world in remembering 9/11. “I think it’s like any life event. It’s like marriage or if you survived a car crash or something like that,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s just sort of changes the way you look at stuff.”
Weaver said his most vivid memories of that fateful day include the sound of the second plane’s engine whining overheard before hitting the south tower, running down 36 flights of stairs and getting to the edge of the Hudson River not knowing which direction the building would fall.
“I was trying to calculate in my head whether or not I was far enough away in case it fell my direction,” he said.
Weaver said a friend later reminded him of his own words when the first plane hit: “I think we’re going to get the rest of the day off.”
Weaver, who was operations manager for a global investment firm, said he returned to work two days after 9/11, but never to the same building. “We had to be at work the next day at a disaster recovery site in order to confirm foreign currency and foreign securities trades from the day before,” he said.
Weaver’s former office, the Deutsche Bank building made infamous by the deadly fire that occurred there in 2007, was never again occupied and Weaver only returned once two months after the attacks. His return required environmental hazard suits and police escort.
“It was like a time capsule,” he said. “There were newspapers still on people’s desks with their coffee and rotting bagels from that day.”
Weaver said only 20 or 30 people were ever allowed back in the Deutsche Bank Tower in the months that followed 9/11. The building’s final demolition was completed January 2011.
In the decade following the terrorist attacks, much has changed for Weaver, the son of the late Dr. John and Ruthanne Weaver of East Gull Lake. His family has grown. He and his wife, Carol Losos, now have three children, their daughter Tessa born after 9/11. Their sons, Jackson and Calvin, are entering seventh and fourth grade this fall.
Weaver moved on from his position as an operations manager in the Deutsche Bank building and has since worked for two other companies, both based in New York City. His current office is only two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center.
Over 10 years, Weaver has watched the clean-up progress of Ground Zero. “Constant construction,” is how Weaver described the site. “First they cleaned up the debris and then they cleaned out the pits. There are still 10 or 12 cranes running at all hours.”
Construction of the site’s new Freedom Towers is expected to be completed sometime in 2013.
Weaver said the events on Sept. 11 changed New York City forever. An average day includes more hassles than before with added security and police presence. But mostly, New York is the same.
“New York City is still a great place to work, eat and play,” he said. “And the people are largely unchanged — busy, fast, funny, eccentric.
“There are always folks willing to work hard to make a buck. Just today I passed one of several guys that speaks at least five languages and wanders around the World Trade Center site selling $10 picture books of 9/11 events to tourists from every part of the globe.”
Weaver said he feels 9/11 changed him personally.
“I look at things differently,” he said. “Why is that person carrying two briefcases? Why is that beat-up delivery truck parked right there?
“I don’t like the fact that some crazy people changed the way I look at the world.”
Weaver said with the anniversary of 9/11 brings back memories like any other major life event. “It was a big thing that happened,” he said. “It’s a milestone in your life.”
In the wake of new credible threats of violence in light of the anniversary weekend, and increased police presence in the city, Weaver plans to spend a quiet weekend across the Hudson River, at home in New Jersey.
“I’m not paranoid, really,” he said. “(But) I for one am not visiting the city on Sunday.”
SARAH NELSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5879.