Always remember that dead last is better than did not finish, which is way better than did not start.
- Tara Parker-Pope
It’s September 11, 2001, and one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center has just come down with a sound described as deep rumbling thunder and crashing glass. A great cloud of dust expands over lower Manhattan, choking the lungs and irritating the eyes of everyone it covers.
A woman escapes down a flight of stairs to an empty subway platform. She hears someone else and cries out, “I can’t see! My eyes are full of dirt. I don’t want to fall into the subway.”
The stranger gently takes her arm into his own, and they link together. The woman calms.
“Please don’t worry,” the stranger says. “I am blind, and I have a guide dog named Roselle. She will help us from falling into the subway.”
The blind leading the blind.
This story comes from Michael Hingson’s recent book Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero, coauthored with Susy Flory. It’s a gripping account of an extraordinary man who, though blind, held a full-time sales position on the 78th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center on the day it was attacked by terrorists.
Hingson recounts the harrowing moments after an airplane struck the tower and the seemingly unending journey down 1,463 steps to safety. It’s a story of unusual courage and a testament to the abilities of someone who is blind and the dog who guides him.
Among the many examples of perseverance and overcoming challenges in the midst of this enormous tragedy and loss of life, I am struck by this personal story. It’s an example of crying out for help—and accepting it—from what might seem the most unlikely of sources.
As I watch the new tower, One World Trade Center, rise above lower Manhattan on my way to work each morning, now more than ten years later, I’m reminded how every day has its moments when we must cry out for help, reach beyond ourselves and wait for something to happen in ways we might never expect.