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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On the day before the ninth anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a few people in the lobby of the Charlotte Government Center paused to look at the contents of a Lucite box located over by a bank of windows.

Inside the box is a slice of steel from one of the girders that once supported one of the twin World Trade Center towers. Next to the girder is a prayer card for a firefighter who died that day, Greg Staijk, and a hand-written note from a young girl that reads in part, “You sacrificed your life for a country you love.”

It took some digging to find someone in city government who remembered how the piece of the girder came to be in Charlotte

This is the story, according to Kim McMillan from the Office of Communication. The first man to lead the economic development group called Charlotte Center City Partners was Rob Walsh, who was lured away from a job in New York. He never forgot his ties to New York and had some good connections with that city.

He pulled some strings and got the girder because he wanted to make sure Charlotte always had a reminder of the events of that day.

One man who remembers well the morning of Sept. 11 is the mayor at the time, Pat McCrory. He was in his office looking out his window after the second plane had hit its mark.

“And people were involuntarily or voluntarily streaming out of the tall bank towers for fear that they would be the next building hit,” he said.

McCrory setup an emergency meeting with the police chief and others to decide what if any action Charlotte needed to take. He even remembers getting a call from Duke Energ, asking if their nuclear power plants were targets.

“Nobody knew what was going to happen,” McCrory remembered.

Eventually the decision was to change the pattern of the transportation system so there were more buses available to get people out of the uptown area if they wanted to go home early.

Later in the day, McCrory remembers the relief he felt when a U.S. Airways official called to tell him that all their planes were on the ground an accounted for.

“At that time we didn’t know what airlines had struck the Pentagon and the World Trade Cenetr and if it had been U.S. Airways we would most likely have had some Charlotte victims,” McCrory said.


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