BRYAN, Texas — United is how Texas A&M professor Dr. Nathan Harness wants to remember September 11, 2001.
20 years ago, he was a college graduate with a new job in New York City. He felt as if his whole life was in front of him, he had no way of knowing just how right he was.
“My day started off pretty early on September 11,” Dr. Harness said.
Dr. Harness was training as a stockbroker for Morgan Stanley, he was 22 years old.
“Their headquarters were right there in New York in tower 2 in the World Trade Center.”
On September 11, 2001, he was on the 61st floor along with 200 other people.
“I just remember looking outside the window and thinking, wow I made it.”
What began as a casual training day in the office, changed in an instance.
“We were on break,” Dr. Harness said, “I walked into the center of the complex, so the middle of the building itself, and was in a room, whenever I came out, it was as though everything had changed.”
Dr. Harness said everyone was silent.
“A visceral moment for me was seeing office papers in the sky, everywhere, on fire,” Dr. Harness said, “I knew something was wrong.”
They were all told to sit down at their desk but Dr. Harness had an impulse to leave.
“I grab my briefcase, grab all of my papers for the day and begin to stand up, that’s when the manager of our floor came over the intercom and said evacuate Tower 2,” Dr. Harness said.
They began the descent down, one at a time, still no one knew what had happened. Then the second plane hit Tower Two when he was around the 44th floor.
Dr. Harness said the building rocked so violently; he was knocked down to his knees.
“I couldn’t even hold on to the stairwell to stay standing, drywall was cracking and people were screaming that we’re all going to die,” Dr. Harness said.
What began as fear, turned calm for Dr. Harness he said, because of his faith.
“I knew that if I died that day, that would not be the end of my story,” Dr. Harness said.
When Dr. Harness made it outside, that was the first time he had any indication of what had happened.
“I saw two gaping holes in Tower 1 and Tower 2,” Dr. Harness said.
At that moment, Dr. Harness got the impulse, run and ran all the way back to his hotel.
“I walked into the lobby and I told the hotel clerk that I needed to call my parents, I had just gotten out of the World Trade Center and I wanted them to know that, that I was alive, “Dr. Harness said, “I could simply tell my family that I had made it, so they knew it was me and they knew I was alive.”
Dr. Harness said he chooses to remember the people, the people who didn’t know one another, the people who made the ultimate sacrifice that day.
“I can never repay the sacrifice in kind for those who made the sacrifice for me on 9/11,” Dr. Harness said, “What I can do is live every day to its fullest and love everyone that I get an opportunity to share with, as often as I can.”