What if it were Chicago on 9/11/2001?

What if it were Chicago on 9/11/2001?

As a person who has been completely consumed by the events of 9/11 for nearly 10 years now, it has never been far from my mind that the acts of terrorism executed on that day could very well have been right here in Chicago. Each time I drive into the city on a clear day I marvel at the beauty of our skyline. I also try to picture what it would look like if the Willis Tower (Sears Tower to me) or The Hancock Building were suddenly no longer there.

There has been some confirmation over the years that Chicago was indeed a target. So what if on that sunny day in 2001 a commercial jet had flown into one of our skyscrapers? According to what statistics I can find, 32,000 people currently work in the Willis Tower. Roughly 50,000 worked in the Twin Towers.

It's impossible to determine if Chicago would have had the manpower to respond in the same manner as in New York. Not to minimize the efficacy of our police and fire forces, but the sheer difference in numbers could have been a detriment. There are (estimates according to the internet) 13,500 sworn police officers in Chicago and 4,300 firefighters. There are 38,000 police officers in New York and 11,600 firefighters. Their power of first responders was nearly triple what ours is.

400 firefighters, police officers, paramedics and Port Authority officers died on 9/11. How many of our own would we have lost? How many people could or would have died had the building/buildings been hit? Would they have collapsed? Are we prepared for this? Is it possible that it could still happen?

As much as 9/11 is always on the minds of New Yorkers, it should be on our minds as well. I have never taken for granted how lucky we were as a city to have been spared the grief and anguish that was brought upon New York and Washington DC. Just now as I write this, the news is reporting that there is a new terror threat for the 9/11 anniversary on Sunday. A "credible, specific threat".

Unfortunately, I believe our days of living carefree and without worry are gone. Not to spend our lives dwelling on the fear of a recurrence, but to have an awareness that it could happen again.

My father has lectured on the Holocaust for many years. A main theme in those lectures is to teach future generations to never forget. This is so it should and will not happen again. So this needs to be the way of the future for all of us to think, act and feel. The memory of what happened on 9/11 needs to be kept alive always. It is sad that we have to live this way but when you think about it this isn't anything new. Pearl Harbor was 70 years ago.

So, next time you are looking at our amazing skyline, remember how the people of New York had to adjust to the sudden disappearance of the twin towers. We could have had to do the same. And we could have had to mourn the loss of loved ones just as they have had to do (I'm sure there are people here that had relatives that died that day). The face and feeling of our city could change forever. Let us pray we never see that day.

And  God bless the victims and their families from that awful day. May it never happen again.



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  • Well let's just wish 9/11 didn't happen on any location. that would have been great!

  • In reply to Pro Edge CCTV:

    Isn't that the truth!!!

  • I lived in NJ ... and was there on 9/11. My children called me, frantic to know if I was okay. I assured them that I was.
    I had much the same worry about Chicago. I remember the talk and speculation - wondering if Chicago had in fact been a target.
    I returned home to Chicago for a visit in October. It infuriated me that the devastation had pretty much been moved off center stage in the media. It was on every TV, every newspaper, and every talk show every day for an extended period in NY and NJ. Then it occurred to me that I had been in OK. City a year after their disaster. When I asked a server how things were going she got a distinctly haunted look in her eyes and answered with a shrug and a soft, "Okay I guess."
    I finally went across the river to the site a year later, wandering around Tribeca and Battery Park. The businesses were just starting to get back on their feet. The stories of shop owners, servers and bartenders were both horrifying and unbelievably moving.
    As a Chicagoan I admit to thinking of NYC and it's denizens with more than a little scorn. Their selflessness and sacrifices changed my mind - forever.
    It's said that men aren't supposed to cry. Well, this 60 year old is still moved to tears (even as I write) thinking about the events that unfolded that day and every day that followed - week after week, month after month.
    I highly recommend the movie "The Guys." Information is available on Wikipedia or ... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0319470/
    Originally a book written by Anne Nelson, it was turned into a wildly well received play with the help of Robert DeNiro and eventually made into a movie. It is beyond moving.
    Thank you for your article. It gave me an unexpected place to write about my own experiences of that "Day of Days."

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Thank you for your comment. I am glad that you wrote of your own experiences which is something I always want to hear about. I used to travel to NY for business all the time and would ask every taxi driver about where they were that day and how it affected them. I should have chronicled it, the stories were all very moving. Let's all just pray we never see this happen here or anywhere else again.

  • i so often think this way, teppi. what if it was chicago? i remember when it was all happening and just being glad that my son and husband were together in case anything came our way. great and incredibly thought provoking piece.

  • In reply to Nicole Knepper:

    Thanks Nikki, I appreciate your comment. I was a mess of fear that day, afraid that it was coming our way - I was on the road to Davenport, IA when it happened and couldn't wait to get home. I was glued to the TV for days, it still resonates with me just as strong. Kinda a patriotic gal :)

  • Fortunately, Chicago never has had that high profile public image like NY or LA. People view this as an old city(even though downtown is much cleaner than LA or NY). The terrorists look at it the same way. Chicago is never on their list(good in a way).

    That said, 9/11 kind of event was bound to happen(mass murder) by these guys somewhere. If 9/11 plans in NY had failed, they probably would have tried in a less attractive city(in terms of publicity) like Chicago.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    George Bush admitted that Chicago was an additional target on 9/11. Never, ever feel that we are excluded - Chicago and it's skyscrapers could be on any terrorist radar - that's 32,000 people alone in the WIllis Tower that could have met the same fate. Be aware, we are all at risk.

  • I thought it would be nice to create a space for many of the 9/11 posts to be in one spot. Can you please link up your post here: http://www.chicagonow.com/ups-and-downs-of-a-yoga-mom/2011/09/september-11th-ten-years-later/. Thank you, I appreciate it. I need someone to try it out, let me know if you have problems.

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    This is one of the most distasteful articles I have real in ages and that is not saying much reading these 7 year old created articles. Why would you want to imagine such a disaster in this way. I really cannot say anymore without angering me and others so good day.

  • In reply to Mike Gilleran:

    Apparently you think that Chicago is immune to these types of attacks. We are not and I find your response distasteful. We all have the freedom to speak our minds however, I do not "want" to imagine this type of disaster in Chicago; I "want" there to be an awareness that it very well could have been us and that we should all never forget what happened that day nor take our freedom for granted. Good day.

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