‘The terror plan backfired; we Americans got closer’

The author with his son.

By JV Tuazon

It was the summer of 2001. I was a year fresh out of college and had just embarked on my path towards a doctorate degree — but those achievements would be overshadowed by the dark clouds that literally loomed ahead.

That summer, I worked part time at New York Sports Club on Vesey and West streets, at the corner of the World Trade Center. A graduate student in need of some extra cash, I awoke before the crack of dawn daily to open the gym at 5:30 a.m. At least my train ride was only seven minutes, quick enough to steal a nap. After teaching my class and training my clients, I usually ended my day at around 9 a.m.

At that time I would go to the World Trade Center’s Borders Book Store to grab a much-needed second cup of coffee along with a morning read. Then depending on the day, it would be straight to class or back to bed.

September classes rolled around and, still in need of some extra cash, my five days a week of teaching kickboxing was now only a Wednesday gig. Losing that extra few bucks was an initial blow, but in retrospect turned out to be one of my greatest blessings.

As is forever etched into our minds, September 11th fell on a Tuesday. Had the terrorists planned the attack a day later, I may not be writing this account. But that’s not my memorable story. Nor is the fact that my whole class watched the dreadful events unfold from our classroom window.

My memorable story happened years later when I bumped into a familiar face on the New York City streets. He was a large, muscular man; a meat-head in our vernacular because, if my memory serves me right, he was that guy who grunted and slammed pounds of weights around the gym with no consideration. He was the guy you dared not get in the way once his workout was underway. He was walking dead at me, eyes glaring right into mine. I wasn’t going to back down. He opened his mouth:

“Hey, aren’t you the kickboxing guy from the Sports Club?”

“Yeah, that’s me,” I answered almost defensively, not knowing where this was leading.

Instantaneously, he reached his mammoth arms around me and gave me a hug.

“I’m just happy to see you made it.”

As quickly as it happened, it was over. We parted ways but the emotions it evoked will never leave me.

The terrorists’ plan backfired. We Americans actually got closer. Stronger.

Former pro boxer JV Tuazon is a medical professional who specializes in sport rehabilitation medicine

One Comment

  1. Carolyne wrote:

    Nice post. I like your 9/11 stories.

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