LANSING (WWJ) – It’s been 13 years since Sept. 11, 2001, but Patrick Anderson still thinks of that day, every day.
The Lansing man was in the World Trade Center at a convention for economists that morning when the first plane hit. “It felt like something I had never experienced,” said Anderson. “And the sound was terrible.”
Anderson was in building three. When the first plane hit the twin towers, debris from the plane fell on top of it. Anderson had no idea what had happened. He didn’t know what could make such a large building shake and move. There were warnings to stay put.
“I waited like other people,” said Anderson, “in the rooms where we were. It seemed like the wise thing to do. In fact, there was an announcement to stay where you are. That may seem silly now, but in 2001, that seemed like pretty good advice.”
What happened next, Anderson said, he can’t logically explain. He felt something like a tap on his shoulder, although there was no one around. “I had one shoe on and one shoe off,” said Anderson. “And I felt like, ‘it’s time to go.’ ”
Anderson made his way down the stairs — the only way out. “Decisions that I made, like decisions that many other people made in those tense minutes often determined who lived and who died.”
When Anderson got outside, the second plane flew over his head and struck a second tower. “That’s when I realized like so many other people that this was not an accident,” he said. “It wasn’t a small plane. The terrible, terrible realization that people were trying to kill us.”
He watched as both towers collapsed onto building three.
Anderson admits to not being able to sleep sometimes for thinking of the attack. “I would not be human if it didn’t affect me sometimes and make me think again.”
Relatives of the dead have asked him why he survived and their loved ones did not. Anderson said that he’s not about to criticize someone who lost a loved one. “I feel sadness about the people that died. I cannot explain why I lived and people right down the hall from me didn’t…I think God made a decision and I don’t have an explanation for that.”
That day and the memories have changed Anderson. “I won’t say that I’ve been converted into a saint,” he said. But he’s quicker now to tell people he loves them, and to forgive what he calls minor character issues. “I have more of a commitment to standing up and preserving what’s important in America.”
For that reason, he has set up the Michigan Remembers Foundation. He said it’s “to remind people of who we lost, who stood up for us, and what we stand for.”
[Learn about the Michigan Remembers Foundation at this link].