Photo credit: Lyle Owerko & Associated Press photographer Richard Drew
Today marks 22 years since the terrible attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Many of you were familiar with the Trade Center before the attacks. Some of you have never been to New York City. My wife, Susan Nielsen, and I had a celebratory meal at Windows On The World near the top of the North Tower. Susan had a role in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. For most of her working life, Susan was a psychotherapist. She was selected to be one of 35 or 40 therapists in the country to be able to respond to severe emergencies both within the United States and abroad. She was in South Africa twice. She also responded to severe flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
Soon after the attacks, they were called to Lower Manhattan. They headquartered in a hotel that was being refurbished and therefore empty. Every morning each member received her/his assignment for the day. Susan was first assigned to go to a Trade Center building that had been severely damaged by part of the North Tower collapsing on it. Within that building was a crew of seven men who were responsible for all communications in Lower Manhattan. They were a wreck. They couldn’t function. It was Susan’s job to revive them to regain their abilities -their functions were vital. Susan worked with them that day and part of the next. So there she was, with helmet and mask not far from the “pile”.
She was next assigned to work with the traumatized bank workers in a bank just east of the Trade Center. This building was pretty tall itself perhaps- 20 stories. Susan and partners counselled them one group at a time for days. They loved what Susan did for them.
Finally, it was time for the crew to wrap it up and leave. Susan flew home- we then lived in Appleton, Wisconsin. The next morning, she got a phone call. A person from the bank kind of sheepishly asked her- Susan, could you come back? She flew back to New York on the next flight. I could not have been more proud of her.
« Back to Blog