LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A list has been made by an area businessman that includes 42 people ranging in age from 22 to 60. It includes moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and a range of professions who all have three things in common: They’re all Michiganders who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and a group Patrick Anderson will never let anyone forget.
“That’s what I think my purpose in life is now after being spared that day is the burden to make sure people remember those who were heroes that day and for those whose lives were lost.”
A younger Patrick Anderson was in New York on business that morning, staying at the Marriott located where we now call ground zero and part of the World Trade Center Complex. He said it was a beautiful morning and he had just returned from the hotel rooftop to get ready for the day when an indescribable sound, shook his soul.
“For most of us, we didn’t know what it was, we couldn’t understand what had happened. We knew there was death because you could see that, and you felt the shake. You knew something had happened. I felt this feeling of doom and that something terrible had happened, but didn’t know what it was.”
Anderson said announcements soon rang out at his hotel to stay in your room — and he did, for about ten minutes… until the pressure of the moment told him to go.
“At like 5 minutes to 9 somebody ran down the hall screaming. I had one shoe on and one shoe off and felt a tap on my shoulder, you need to leave now or stay here forever, so I ran out and didn’t even have both shoes on.”
With only his cell phone, wallet, and a pocketknife — Anderson ran for his life — and just as he set foot outside of his hotel… the unthinkable.
“The plane flew right over me, right into the building I was coming out of… it was a narrow escape for me.”
An escape Anderson says forever motivated him to honor those who didn’t make it out alive. He founded the Michigan Remembers 9/11 Fund, which includes a website memorializing the 42 people with ties to Michigan whose lives were lost on September 11, 2001 — and features an interactive map of 9-11 memorials across the state. His dedication to honor the fallen has involved many speeches, 5-K fundraisers, and numerous events for more than a decade — a burden he says, that’s actually a privilege to have.
“I think if you were given the opportunity to carry on with the rest of your life. I got a chance to see my kids go to school, a chance to see a lot of wonderful things as a father and a husband, I had a chance to build a business and do a lot of great things here in Michigan… I’m thankful for that.”
So on this 20th anniversary – Patrick Anderson will once again be honoring the Michigan men and women we lost that day at a special ceremony in Plymouth Township — just as he recently did in downtown Lansing. It’s because making sure we all never forget the 42 people our state lost that day — is now his lifelong mission.
“If you were there and saw people next to you lose their lives and saw people risking their lives for yours, you don’t forget that…. and I certainly don’t.”