September 14, 2001
I hope someday soon that I can talk about golf again with Walter Kristlibas and some of our mutual friends.
Right now I can only pray for the chance.
As some readers know, I am a deputy attorney general in the Delaware Department of Justice. I represent the Secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and nearly all of DelDOT’s various divisions, along with a few other assignments.
My professional responsibilities involve many different issues. For example, I have worked for several years with my counterparts in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on the EZPass project. This is a joint effort to establish and maintain a unified electronic toll collection system for toll roads and bridges throughout the East Coast.
Kristlibas works for the Port Authority, and he and I worked together on EZPass matters many times. Until September 11, his office was at One World Trade Center, New York City.
I last saw him at an EZPass meeting at the Trade Center on July 31. We met in the Port Authority conference room on the 63rd floor, along with over a dozen other participants.
The meeting was to be several hours long, and went through the lunch period. The Port Authority folks thoughtfully provided a deli spread, to save time.
As usual, during the break no one wanted to talk about EZPass. Instead, golf was the primary topic for discussion.
I listened and laughed along as several meeting participants swapped tales of routine golfing disasters. Some proudly described how they managed to keep their score around the magic 90 in their last Saturday round. Others hooted at their friends’ claims that their real handicaps were actually well over 20.
In other words, it was a typical lunch among business friends and associates, sharing their mutual love for the game.
I kept the special security photo I.D. card given to me that morning for permission to reach the 63rd floor. It is an unsettling souvenir of a place that doesn’t exist any more.
As soon as I heard of the attacks on the World Trade Center, my thoughts went out immediately to Kristlibas and my other friends at the Port Authority. There was no way I could reach them to find out how or if they made it out safely.
Then I thought of all the thousands of other Americans, with similar thoughts about the thousands of people they know who work or live in the Trade Center, along with the hundreds of victims caught in the hijacked airliners or buried under the Pentagon’s rubble.
The “six degrees of separation” that truly connect so many Americans together may not be fully appreciated by those not of this country. Whether the ties that bind us come from work, or family, or golf, these connections are among the reasons we will come together fairly quickly as a people to react in strong, measured ways to this newest outrage.
My office is near Dover AFB, which went to the highest security level along with all the other military bases that terrible day. State employees were dismissed early. I drove by the base on the cloudless, sunny early afternoon, and could see that the Air Base golf course adjacent to Route 113 was completely empty.
I was also impressed at the line of cars of AFB staff lined up to enter the base for duty on short notice. It was obvious that many were interrupted in the middle of living their lives according to their normal peacetime routine. It was also obvious that these people know their duty and are prepared to follow through.
Some good will come of this eventually, I’m sure.
It’s just an awful price to pay.