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9/11: One Year Later

9/11: One Year Later

How life has changed for one World Trade Center survivor.

by Jack Alvo

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I arrived to my office on the 73rd floor of 2 WTC, better known as the South Tower. Ten minutes later I looked out my window to see smoke, debris, papers and even people raining down from the North Tower. I was able to escape, even though my family thought I was dead until I was able to contact them hours later.

My life has changed in many ways since the tragedy of 9/11. For all the loss the world felt on that day, many miracles occurred as well. My personal miracle came in April with the birth of my first child, Julian. Every time I see his face light up with a smile I count my blessings and am overjoyed. But at the same time I am saddened with thoughts of the many children born this year who will never meet their fathers, who perished in the attacks.

Jack Alvo, his wife, and their son Julian


Surviving 9/11 has given me more courage, confidence and determination to move forward with my life. I remember clearly the anger I felt with my employer for the "business as usual" attitude in the weeks following the catastrophe. Publicly they stated that their employees came first, but privately it was every man for himself and I was resentful. There was a void inside of me, my soul forcing me to question my life's purpose.

Before year's end, I resigned my position and went into business with an old college friend. While I did not own this new venture, I did feel a sense of independence and would use the experience as a stepping-stone to move on. I know that part of my purpose for surviving is to live each day making my dreams become realities.

I am now certain that we are given only a short time on earth and we all have a purpose to fulfill.

I find myself willing to take more calculated business risks now, knowing that even as I face more potential obstacles and challenges, these are opportunities for personal growth. I never want to remain complacent, as I am now certain that we are given only a short time on earth and we all have a purpose to fulfill.

I don't ever let anyone tell me that something can't be done. If my mind can conceive it, it can be achieved. I am currently raising capital for a new venture, and am empowered to be my own boss, to have the freedom to make my time my own.

My wife lost her business on 9/11. She would rent out New York apartments to people visiting the city. Hotel prices came down so low -- and even included either breakfast or dinners -- that few people were willing to pay someone's bed and breakfast. It actually worked out wonderfully, because now my wife can give all her time and energy to raising our son. She assures me this is the best career she has ever had and far more rewarding than any money she would make in business.


For several weeks after the bombings I was extremely anxious. I had nightmares and difficulty sleeping. The smells of the collapsed buildings were so intense, that in the day following the attacks I tried to find refuge in Long Island. Unbelievably the next morning I woke up to those same odors 30 miles east.

Answering the phone became a difficult task. Everyone had the same questions and wanted to hear first-hand every vivid detail of what happened. In some strange way this was my five minutes of fame. Initially it was therapeutic for me to retell the story, but that soon wore off. I soon realized that I couldn't retell the story any longer if I were going to move on with my life. So I wrote down all my thoughts and responded easily with an email attachment.

I haven't been on a plane since the attack. These days we take road trips.

I haven't been on a plane since the attack. I vacillate between not wanting to allow the terrorists to impede my life any more than they have, however... these days we choose to take road trips. We're not even bothered by the recent rise in gas prices.

There is a lot of talk now about what should be done with the World Trade Center site: a resurrection of the towers, smaller office buildings, a memorial? One thing I can tell you is that I personally would not work there again.

How a single event can change the course of one's life fascinates me. When you throw a stone in the water, it lands in one place, but has a rippling effect. I woke up the morning of September 11 unaware that I was literally in for a day at war.

Why I escaped while others did not is something I still question. What is clear to me is that my son has his father, and my wife her husband. Family life is more important and has greater meaning than ever before. I appreciate the need to honor and respect my loved ones. They all deserve it, and deserve my best.

Read Jack Alvo's first-person account of September 11, "One Man's Escape."


September 1, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Anonymous, September 8, 2003 12:00 AM

Thank you so much for sharing oyur story and your affirmation of commitment to life,and living fully.I hope all of us who read your words will use them as an impetus to live fully each and every precious day,with energy and purpose.Who knows about the fires of tomorrow? A great contirbution for Ellul. Leshana tova tikasevu vesichasemu!

(3) Marc S, Dickerman, September 11, 2002 12:00 AM


To Life Jack. We have all come a long way since our days at FHHS. I will add you to my prayers this weekend, and thank G-D for your survival and the mitzvah of a new son.

Warm Florida Greetings for a Blessed New Year!


(2) Belinda, September 10, 2002 12:00 AM

Very Moving Articles

I read both articles and found them very moving. It must have been a very difficult year for you, but it is clear to me that you have grown tremendously from 9/11. I wish you, Debbra, Julian and all the Jewish people a year filled with joy.

(1) Marisa Mandrea, September 3, 2002 12:00 AM

A Beautiful Life

May Hashem continue to bless you and your family. You are a gifted writer.
L'Shana Tova.

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