Although I don’t remember why I was a little late for work, I remember with razor sharpness that when I walked into the office just before 9 a.m. on September 11, 2001 that the world had changed forever. “Did you hear,” a receptionist asked.  Of course I hadn’t because I was walking from my car so I went straight to my office, turned on the radio – as we had no TV coverage in the office – and booted up my computer.

Working in corporate communications, my day was then a whirlwind of getting in touch with staff spread throughout the nation, coordinating school closing announcements, and most importantly trying to reach our school in New York not far from the Towers.

When the radio news began reporting a plane “heading toward Pittsburgh” I truly couldn’t believe it. Then I remember calls to my wife to get our daughter from daycare and get home and more work related calls, then watching the near gridlock of everyone in downtown Pittsburgh fleeing at once as companies closed.

I didn’t know anyone who perished during 9/11 but I felt completely connected to those who didn’t come home. I had a job that required a huge amount of travel and could easily see myself on one of those flights, thankful that the plane was so empty so I had room to spread out.  And I just couldn’t get that image out of my head.  I still can’t.

And I remember watching the skies later that day and for the next few days before air travel resumed.  Strangest thing ever to see no planes flying overhead.

As a former journalist and a PR guy, I’m a news junkie and when I finally returned home, I turned on the television to get caught up.  But then I couldn’t watch.  In fact, I didn’t watch any of the coverage for weeks. With a young daughter turning 3 in a few weeks, I used the Disney channel as my escape. For the first time ever, I just couldn’t bear to hear those stories, to get all the details.

Lying in bed that night with our daughter between us – because we just wanted to have us all together – my wife and I wondered: What had happened to our world? What kind of world would our little girl grow up in? How would we go on?

But we did go on. Call it human nature. But everything has changed. I remember getting on a plane for the first time just weeks after 9/11. I can picture that whole flight in my mind’s eye today. Also in my work world, I remember having conversations with my team that PR was going to be a different world for a very long time.  When our New York culinary team revealed the heroic work it did to feed the rescuers, we decided to keep it to ourselves.  Other companies were literally taking out ads in the New York Times to congratulate themselves. Others aggressively pitched stories shamelessly promoting the “good work” they were doing.  It made me sick.  I’m proud of my organization, which chose the high road instead.  Sure we missed some amazing media coverage opportunities but we could all still hold our heads high.

September 11 is a moment in time for all of us and what we take away is different for every individual. I’ve always tried to “live for the day” every day.  Upon remembrance, it’s time to re-embrace that concept and make it my mantra – and if I can bring some others along with me, all the better.