Marcy Borders was 28 years old when, around ten in the morning on September 11, 2001, she was descending from the 81st floor of the North Tower, the tallest of the Twin Towers, the first to be struck by the fanatic criminal disciples of Bin Laden. Marcy was a clerk at a detached office of Bank of America, which shared the floor space with three more tenants.
Each floor had leasable space of 40,000 square feet. In addition to Bank of America, the 81st floor was occupied by New Continental Enterprises, Blue Star Line North America and Network Plus Corporation. We don’t know the exact space leased to each company, but on average they had 10,000 square feet each, enough for the U.S. subsidiary of a British shipping company (Blue Star Line) or a networking certification company (Network Plus), or even for a small unit of one of the largest banks in the world.
We can imagine how frequent the heartbeat of Marcy was while she flew down the endless stairs, along with other people like her, strongly committed to escaping the fate of those caught in the trap of South Tower, which had just collapsed. The temperature had to be fierce because of the fire: the American Airlines jet, a Boeing 767 which was flying from Boston to Los Angeles, had struck the building cutting through seven floors, the ones from 93rd to 99th (the tenant was the insurance consulting company Marsh McLennan which lost 295 employees and 63 contractors).
It is assumed that there were 10,000 gallons of fuel in the tanks of the plane at the time of impact, a huge amount of inflammable fluid which spread itself through the building’s structures, quickly weakening them so much that they were to collapse in less than two hours. We do not know whether Marcy and the others, fleeing the building directed by the firefighters already there to arrange the escape, had witnessed the collapse of the South Tower. No doubt their running desperately down the stairs was the only way to escape sure death. There was no other options for some of those caught in the highest floors of the South Tower: seeing themselves prisoners of the flames from the lower floors, they jumped from the building. May be Marcy and her fellows witnessed those hopeless jumps, a desperate decision taken to avoid a probably much more painful and long death.
I believe that Marcy, while hustling to her safety, never imagined what
more the fate had in store for her in that tragic day. She never imagined that she, a young and attractive african american woman, properly dressed for her job in a big and respected financial institution, transformed into a walking dust statue, was going to be one of the symbols of that enormous tragedy. She never imagined that she was going to be seen by millions of people all over the world in a picture by photographer Stan Honda taken in the lobby of the building in which the firefighters were guiding the survivors of the North Tower to safety just a few moments before it was to fall like its twin. The worldwide fame of Marcy may have marked the beginning of her slow decline towards death, a path that, day after day, year after year, eventually led her to become another victim of the attack brought to her country by the terrorists of Al Qaeda.
It’s not hard for me to imagine that, even if she had wished to, she could never have forgotten the tragedy she survived thanks to that desperate escape from the tower, while every single part of her body was covered by dust. In any case she had a reminder every morning, as she opened her eyes and looked at the panorama she had seen for years from her small apartment in the city of Bayonne, New Jersey. A panorama now missing two central pieces, crumbled like her life.
Foto di Alexander, Hope, Photographer (NARA record: 8452212) - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration - From Wikipedia
Today we listen to a composing by Frederick Delius (http://www.britannica.com/biography/Frederick-Delius), Two Aquarelles. Daniel Barenboim directs the English Chamber Orchestra.