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9/11 memories: Louis Susman

We asked the current US ambassador to the UK: where were you on 9/11?

Like millions of others on 9/11, I saw the second hijacked plane slam into the South Tower - but I was not watching it on television: I witnessed it from a private jet planning to land just across the Hudson River. I had already received word from the pilot that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. As we approached the airport in New Jersey, watching smoke coming from the first building, the second plane hit. I could not comprehend what I was seeing. I was in a state of dismay. My first thoughts were for my son, who worked at the World Trade Center, my granddaughters, who went to school in Lower New York, and my daughter, who was also in the city. With all the communications problems, it was a long time before I found out if they were all safe. Thankfully they were. Sadly, however, the company I worked for lost some of our people. One of our buildings was destroyed. When I finally made it to Manhattan, I was keenly aware of the horror and disbelief among New Yorkers. I knew that there would be profound political and economic consequences, of course. But as I drove back home to Chicago at the end of the week I was gratified by what I saw. All along the route - in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana - there were people on bridges, waving flags. The Stars and Stripes were everywhere. It was incredibly moving and very patriotic.

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This article first appeared in the 05 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, 9/11