A Fife man wonders if a security guard he struck up a “great conversation” with at the top of the World Trade Center in New York survived the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Hamish Stephen, 47, a truck sales executive who lives in Kirkcaldy, told how in 2000, him and eight friends visited New York and Miami for the “ultimate millennium celebration”.
On the second day they visited the Twin Towers, after being disappointed the day before with the “grubby and over visited” Empire State Building.
What sticks in his mind – apart from the colossal scale of the buildings – is the rapport they struck up with a security guard of “incredible hulk proportions” who made their visit “fun and memorable”.
“One of my friends started to suffer immediately from vertigo,” recalls Hamish, a former pupil of Bell Baxter High School in Cupar.
“Watching him clutch to the railings in sheer panic was a great source of amusement, after the large amount of cheeky banter he had dished out the last two days.
“Our lack of sympathy and humour had caught the attention of a massively built security guard of incredible hulk proportions.
“We struck up a great conversation with him and he couldn’t quite believe our very Scottish attitude towards mocking each other constantly.
“He really made our visit to the towers fun and memorable.
“He recommended we visit a unique and cool shop in the east village that sold old Kung Fu movies, comics and hip hop vinyl records – which we did and loved.”
Shocked at 9/11
Like most people on September 11, 2001, Hamish was shocked by the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and other US targets.
However, on the day events unfolded, he spared a special thought for the security guard he’d met the year before, and hoped he wasn’t on shift that day.
“Years later in 2007, I visited the site of the destroyed towers with my wife,” adds Hamish.
“Having such fond and happy memories of my first visit and faced with the rubble remains before me was quite a shock.
“The temporary sites in place with peoples’ letters and children’s pictures of lost family members was one of the saddest memories I have.
“The lost lives on that day must not be forgotten and no terrorism should ever be tolerated.”