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Tolling Points

Reflection and Remembrance on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11/2001

Pat Jones, IBTTA

On the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we remember all whose lives were lost or irretrievably changed by the events of that day.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, during IBTTA’s Annual Meeting in Berlin, Germany, Ken Philmus, the former Director of Bridges, Tunnels and Terminals for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, delivered a heartfelt reflection on his experience of that day and what he has learned since.

In the spirit of remembering that day and looking positively towards the future, we reprint here a portion of Ken Philmus’ remarks.

Remarks of Ken Philmus to the IBTTA Annual Meeting in Berlin, Germany, September 11, 2011

“I choose to look at 9/11 as if it was a wound to us all that has healed but left a scar as most bad wounds do. And every time we look at that scar we are reminded of what took place. But we’re also reminded that wounds do heal. All I have to do is look at my five beautiful grandchildren, all who were born since 9/11, and know that we positively and constructively must look at everything that we do, if not for ourselves then for them.

“There is so much more good in this world than evil, but unfortunately we seem to always allow the evil to get too much of the attention and focus. I learned from 9/11 that no matter how dire circumstances appear, the human spirit can and will recover. It must. I felt that way 10 years ago and I feel it even more today. And I also believe that it is representative of other negative experiences that have been dealt with elsewhere in the world. Isn’t that what Berlin today is all about?

“Yes, I reflect on the absence of those towers that I loved and the people close to me that were lost that day. But I quickly also reflect on how we responded. And how we must and are continuing to respond with goals that are positive and to treasure our relationships and not to focus on the negative. You, IBTTA, showed me that 10 years ago and I feel it even more strongly than ever before.

“As the Trade Center Complex is finally being rebuilt the design and care to represent all that was and what we have all felt since then is remarkable. The memorial at the site is profound – as it must be. And as we visit it and look at it, it will express our hope and belief that the future is ours and doesn’t belong to those who want to steal it from us. Despite all the negative and frankly scary events that have taken place over the last ten years in our society, I choose and I implore you to choose as well, the positive. When I look at the new tower that is replacing that hole in the sky we’ve had for 10 years, that is how it makes me feel.

“As I said earlier, I truly believe that 10 years later we are okay and must continue to move forward positively with hope and a desire for a better world and a better life. I know that we will never be the same and have to approach life differently than before. But I also know in my heart that we will be okay. The human spirit, and particularly my human spirit, simply won’t allow anything else.

“Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to express my appreciation and the appreciation of the Port Authority for your support and your concern. Equally as important, thanks to IBTTA for being the caring and close friends that you all are. Know that it is truly, truly treasured. Thank you very much.”

Newsletter publish date: 
Saturday, September 11, 2021 - 13:15


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