It’s been two decades since the day that changed America forever.
On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people died after Islamic extremists tied to Al Qaeda hijacked four jetliners and used them as missiles.
NBC 4’s Colleen Marshall and photographer Charles Busby went to New York City 20 years ago to cover the attack on the World Trade Center and the aftermath.
To mark the 20th anniversary, they went back to New York and all this week, will share the stories of 9/11 – 20 years later.
COLUMBUS (WCMH) – As the world remembers 9/11, a central Ohio man is one of those helping to share the World Trade Center story.
Mark Morrow was a successful real estate agent, and at one time, a lifestyles reporter for NBC4.
He moved to Manhattan several years ago, looking for a change, but ended up finding his calling.
“We need to commemorate and never forget, never, ever forget those lives. so that is our first mission,” Morrow said. “Our second is to tell the story with accuracy.”
When Morrow moved to New York to attend culinary school, he moved into an apartment overlooking the rebirth of the World Trade Center and was so taken with the construction of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum that he spend months studying to be a docent.
“It’s rewarding and it’s fulfilling and it makes me feel purpose,” he said.
And now he tells the 9/11 story with accuracy.
“So they tilted it, which meant they hit six floors at once,” Morrow said of one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center. “Because this hijacker was a good aim, he knocked out all the stairwells.”
He’s learned facts and figures and can tell visitors about the 465,000 gallons of water in the memorial fountain. That the new tower stands at 1,776 feet. That the museum has nearly 30,000 artifacts, including heart-breaking phone messages.
“Anybody that was hit from the impact and above did not survive, so they literally stayed there for 102 minutes,” Morrow said.
He shares the stories, and he listens.
“He was emotionally drained, and I could tell there was a little bit of something going on, but I wasn’t really sure, and I said, ‘I’m really sorry for your loss,’ and he said, ‘I didn’t know this man,” Morrow recounted.
He was recounting the story of a young man whose mother was trapped under debris on the 75th floor of the North Tower who visited the Memorial Garden to honor the firefighter who freed her.
“And he said, ‘My mother made it to the bottom and she got out, this firefighter perished,’ and he said, ‘She can’t come back to say thank you so I am here in her place to put two roses on his name to say thank you,’” Morrow said.
Visitors will always find white roses at the memorial.
“Every morning at 8:30, a staff member comes out and puts a white rose on the birthday, so today is Elizabeth Darling’s birthday,” Morrow said.
With the help of docents, visitors can learn about the hidden messages throughout the memorial, like the trees, lamp posts, and benches in perfect alignment when they look in one direction.
“Every one of them, it doesn’t matter where you look, they are in complete alignment,” Morrow said.
When visitors turn in the other direction, however…
“Now look. If you notice, nothing is in alignment. It’s all out of whack. The point is everything can be in perfect alignment and in a second, your whole world can change.”
Both the National 9/11 Museum and Memorial and the Family Tribute Museum were hit hard financially by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. If you would like to contribute, click on one of the links below.