We spent two hours in the museum, but could’ve spent days. As we exited the museum we saw Tom not far away. We hollered his name and ended up chatting a bit longer. Before leaving he said in his Northern accent, “See us Yankees aren’t so bad after all. You never know what you’ll learn about people until you sit and talk to them.” This made me reflect a little…while I was talking to Tom, probably ten or more visitors came up to him and asked where is the bathroom, where is the museum entrance, nearest restaurant, and the list goes on. But I got the feeling that not many people took the time to ask him about 9/11: the reason we were all here. No one knew everything he had been through. I could only be thankful it was raining that day and I picked that particular awning to run under, or else I might have missed this happenstance and humbling conversation of fate. I can only hope he was equally as touched to share his story with us as we were to hear it.
When we told him goodbye, I let him know that we would bring his story with us back to The South, which is why I felt compelled to share with you today. I may never see my FRIEND Tom again, which makes me sad, but every September 11th I will fondly remember him and all of the other men and women who died and lived in the face of pure evil. As always, I am Proud to be an American.”