When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the 90’s, the Twin Towers defined New York. I loved seeing them out my bedroom window, looming like two giants, always watching over The City. Though tragedy took them away, I’ve adjusted and learned to remember them as a symbol of greatness, resilience and pride. Though the wounds may never fully heal, I try to remember the Twin Towers with a smile on my face. They make me remember The Way It Was.
As soon as I walked into the 9/11 Memorial, I was sent by security to the coat check-in station to check in my backpack. I dropped it off, got a ticket, and toured the museum. 2 hours later, I returned to the counter to pick up my bag. This man, George P. Mironis, greeted me and asked if I enjoyed the museum. We talked for a few minutes before he pulled out a small photo album from his jacket. Inside were dozens of photos he took of the towers collapsing, men jumping out of windows, and first responders. Mr. Mironis was on the 48th floor of the North Tower when Flight 11 crashed into it. He ran down over 50 flights of stairs, including the Survivors’ Staircase to escape the tower. Milliseconds after he ran out of the tower, it collapsed. I couldn’t believe it, but I only had one question: “Where are you from?” He said “Haha, I’m Greek!” I told him “No way! My family’s from Cyprus!” and he gave me a hug and a handshake. Then, he pulled out a photo from his album, signed it, and gave it to me, along with his card. Nothing made my day better than meeting this man and hearing his story.