’93, 9/11 survivor says to ‘live life’

As the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, approaches, many have had conversations with friends and acquaintances concerning that fateful day.
The 2,981 deaths on that fateful day are enough alone to make it impossible to forget. However, other things have spurned other topics of conversation from the event, including political ramifications.
Airport security procedures, the Patriot Act, and claims of an “inside job” have been common on the news.
While many have made their opinions known, others have first-hand experience.
One such person is former Wapakoneta resident Carla McKenzie. The daughter of Marsha and Bill Troy, of Cridersville, is a 1977 Wapakoneta High School graduate who now lives in Belmont, New York.
McKenzie does not hold an academic degree on terrorism, but events in her life have made her a street-wise expert.
On that Tuesday morning, McKenzie was busy working on the 13th floor of the World Trade Center in the new business development department for Instinet, an electronic communications network for Reuters Group. At 8:46 a.m., the whole building seemed to move.
“The first reaction of everyone was ‘What was that,’ ” McKenzie said. “I will never forget how much the building moved. “We moved over to the courtyard and you could see debris coming down right away.”
McKenzie had a second sense kick in and knew it was time to get out of the building. She had been there for a similar event in 1993 when a truck bomb was detonated below ground level that killed six and injured more than 1,000. She was in World Trade Center 5 during the 1993 bombing.
“We knew right away that we had to get out of there,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie escaped the tower just in time to see the second plane hit Tower 2 at 9:02 a.m. She said the events that took place that day are something she will never forget.
“Its there all the time,” McKenzie said. “Where we live is in the direct flight path of JFK Airport. The 747s going over are a constant reminder.”
Marsha’s parents also will never forget that day, waiting for nearly three hours to hear from their daughter to learn she was safe. The three hours seemed like a lifetime.
“I didn’t know what happened right away until my sister-in-law called from Columbus,” Marsha Troy said. “She called and asked if I had the television on. Right away I called my husband at work and he came home. We weren’t able to reach my daughter. My husband got home at about 11 a.m. We finally heard from Carla at a little before 11:30 (a.m.). It really scares you because you don’t know.”
Marsha Troy said she was just thankful that her daughter got out alive. She had just come down from one of the higher floors where she had been doing business.
McKenzie knew many people in the higher towers on Tower 2 when the second plane hit, but she said that thankfully many of her friends had gotten out after the first tower was hit.
She recalled the death of two friends, however, Rick, who was head of corporate security, and a senior programmer for the company she worked for that was at a breakfast meeting in the restaurant that was located on the top floor of the first tower.
The events forced a definite change in McKenzie’s lifestyle, though she said she learned to go on and embrace life.
“The common reaction is to be more cautious and not as adventuresome as you might have been,” McKenzie said. “It’s always there and you just learn to cope with it.”
McKenzie said her husband, John, has helped her tremendously since Sept. 11.
“I married an adventuresome man,” McKenzie said. “He has pushed me and helped me to get where I can take risks again. You can’t be afraid. Life is a gift and you have to live it to the upmost every day. You can’t let your life get smaller.”
Being involved in both the 1993 and Sept. 11 attacks, McKenzie was matter-of-fact about some of the claims and opinions that have been flung around since the event.
“We need to be diligent,” McKenzie said. “Sometimes you can’t believe what people say. It always gets me when people say Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. That is a ridiculous statement. These are the same people that say the attack was an inside job. All you have to do is look at the pictures of the mass graves in Iraq and you know those kinds of statements have no credibility.”
The government has taken many drastic measures, including tighter airport security and the Patriot Act. Many people have argued about the wire-tapping of telephones and how the government is spending time keeping tabs on the average American citizen. Being involved in security, she said the claims are bogus.
“It is completely crazy,” McKenzie said. “It is ridiculous for people to think our government has the time or the expenses to keep a wiretap on every citizen there is. If a phonetap is being done, there is a legitimate reason for it.”
Her opinion of people saying the attacks on New York and Pennsylvania were an inside job is even less favorable.
“Quite frankly, I think those people are stupid,” McKenzie said. “They are very ill-informed.
McKenzie, who has three grown children with her husband, said it is key that you just keep on going.
“You never can forget it,” McKenzie said. “But like I said before, you just can’t be afraid. You have to learn to cope. And we have to be diligent as a country to prevent other events from happening.”