Sept 11th – Fifteen Years Since Our World Changed

Sept 11th – Fifteen Years Since Our World Changed


“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”– Sandy Dahl, wife of pilot of Flight 93 Jason Dahl

It is hard to believe that it has been 15 years since the tragedy of 9/11.  For most of us, we were shaken to our core as the world held its breath and silently wondered if any of us would survive unscathed.  However, for others, their personal loss during 9/11 has been something that they could not have imagined as they sent their loved ones onto a plane or off to work that day.  Each year, I do try to share my personal story of 9/11 in hopes of showing respect for those men and women who did not survive and for all of the first responders who acted heroically during those harrowing hours and days while New York City was covered with ash and rubble.  I apologize to those of you who have read my story in the past, but the lessons that I learned stay still resonate with me.


One of our team members had been working with a client to sell a home that they owned in central Nanaimo.  The seller was a journalist who traveled quite a bit, but loved the West Coast.  Her home had been viewed several times, but the right buyer had not been found for a few weeks since the listing had hit MLS.  Ironically, in the evening of Sept. 10, 2001, a  buyer had finally stepped “up to the plate” and written an offer as this home met both their needs and wants.  Since it was quite late in the evening, a voice mail message was left on the seller’s cell phone to call so that the offer could be negotiated.  The seller had advised the realtor the week prior, that she was in New York on assignment, and no one had thought anything more about this until that fateful day of September 11th.  The client had been in the World Trade Centre that morning, preparing for a busy day of interviews, and had no inkling of what was about to happen.  She had been in the second World Trade Tower that was attacked.  Here is the amazing story of what happened next.


When an “explosion” occurred in the tower she was in, she had begun running down the stairs with many others.  She later shared with the realtor that most people had thought that there was a small fire in the building and some were not even bothering to go downstairs, since they felt that everything would be fine and that it was just a “false alarm”.  Her cell phone rang, and when she looked down to see who would be calling, she was amazed to see her husband as the caller.  He was away in Australia and it was unusual for him to call her while she was working, especially given the time difference.  She quickly answered his call and he began yelling at her to get out of the building and to “keep running”.  He had actually been watching CNN in Australia and seen footage of the second plane hit the tower!


While she was running down the stairs, several managers and personnel actually told her that everything was fine, and that she should go upstairs.  However, the concern of her husband propelled her down the stairs, and she saw many people walking back up the stairs laughing at the commotion.  She continued to run and run and run until she was near the bridge.  It was then that everything hit her – an attack had taken place at the World Trade Centre!


In the days that followed, she called and relayed to the realtor that she was safe, but that no faxes were available in the city of New York unless for emergency purposes.  It was surreal to try and negotiate an offer on real estate in Nanaimo with someone who living through the unbelievable carnage in New York.  A week or two later, the offer was finally able to be faxed to the seller, agreed to and, the property was sold by October.


What has always stayed with me from this story, is not only how small our world really is, but how something so far away can affect us forever.  I recall watching the skies soon after the World Trade Centers collapsed, and remember thinking how strange it was to not see any planes in the sky.  Most of us were glued to our television sets, watching CNN with any updates about survivors or stories of inspiration and courage.  I think that had it not been for her husband’s love and concern, that this person may have just been another tragedy that would have garnered 5 seconds as a news story headline.  It is this lesson that makes me truly want to hug my wife and son every day and tell them that they are loved, because you never know if tomorrow will grant you this opportunity.


Best Regards,
Brian McCullough, Myles McCullough & Kiel Lakuaniuk

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