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Burnham Nationwide remembers 9/11

Burnham Nationwide remembers 9/11

by TOM WALSH, executive vice president, Burnham Nationwide | Sep 11, 2015

On September 11, 2001, I was serving as Senior Project Manager and Operations Manager at our New York City office in Lower Manhattan. I started my day as usual, taking a train in from Westchester, NY, and arriving at my desk about an hour later.

   The author today.

   The author today.

Not long afterwards, I received a call from Mike, a former Burnham employee. He had just emerged from the subway station near the World Trade Center when the first plane hit the North Tower. He told me what he had seen.

Many other Burnham NYC employees and I rushed down the street to see what was happening. We arrived just in time to see the second plane hit the South Tower.

At that point, everyone ran—myself included—back to our building. I was able to get a phone call out to my family to let them know what was happening, and that I was okay.

Soon, the phones stopped working. I went back outside and saw the first tower come tumbling down. A cloud of debris covered the street and everyone around. The rest of the Burnham employees and I returned to our building, which quickly lost power. So everyone was forced to evacuate.

Evacuating the Area

As a group, we left Burnham’s office and headed north.

We all placed shirts over our mouths to limit what we were breathing in. Everyone I saw—including myself and the team of Burnham employees—was in a state of shock.

When our group reached City Hall, we split up, some going toward Brooklyn and Queens, with others continuing to head north. That’s when the second tower collapsed. I was overcome with panic and extreme sadness at that point.

We all then walked to Grand Central Station, but it had been evacuated due to a bomb threat. It wasn’t until hours later that I was able to board a train and head home to my family. I arrived there around 4 p.m.—nearly seven hours after the first plane hit.

The Aftermath

After 9/11, over a month elapsed before the Burnham NYC office reopened. Our team had been meeting in a temporary office starting on Sept. 13, but we didn’t return to our original office until the end of October. One of the first tasks after returning to work was creating an Emergency Action Plan in case anything similar ever happened again.

Today, although more than a decade has passed, the events of Sept. 11 will stay with me forever.

I just wish my children will never have to witness such a horrific act of terrorism. That day will always be in my thoughts. 

The author joined Burnham Nationwide in 1998. Still based in NYC, he can be reached here

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