A survivor of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center has told Newsmax.TV how it was her sheer will to see her 10-month-old son grow up that got her through.
Paramedics had already decided that Lauren Manning was a “goner,” but now, a decade after that terrible day, she has written a book explaining her journey.
“For 50 minutes I endured unspeakable pain and agony but I made the decision in those moments to live,” Manning said.
“I had had a child, we had tried for many years, my husband and I, and he was only 10 months old and I didn’t want to leave him. There began my journey that day. I made it to the first hospital and more than half a year later I returned home.”
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Manning, now 50, was a managing director and partner with Cantor Fitzgerald, the giant bond-trading firm which had offices on several upper floors of the North Tower.
Both Manning and her husband Greg, who had a planned meeting in the tower’s Windows on the World restaurant that morning, owe their lives to a bizarre incident 100 miles north of the City, which left them running late. The tenant who had rented their rural getaway home in Pine Plains, NY, for the summer, had dropped off the key with caretaker, Mari Fitzgerald along with a gift of an apple pie.
But Fitzgerald’s black lab, Maggie, got to the gift first and wolfed down the pie – and the key had disappeared.
“There was an appraiser coming that day, so I had to hustle to try to get another key,” Manning told Newsmax. “Through the course of those phone calls, I ran more than half an hour late.”
She took a cab from her Greenwich Village home and got to the lobby of the North Tower and hurriedly walked to the elevator. But just as she got to the doors, American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles crashed into the tower’s upper floors at 470 mph.
“There was a loud whistle and less than a second later, the fire descended through the elevator shafts and blew out over me,” recalled Manning. “I was covered in flames.
“I ran out of the building and across the street to drop and roll, where I was met by a stranger, a civilian, a bond trader, who helped me put out the flames.”
As she lay in agony, she saw the second plane “pummel into” the South Tower, and she decided she was not going to die.
“It was a combination of my upbringing and, as my father would say, things are going to happen in life, you will be met with disappointment but you’ve got to get over it,” she said.
“I knew that it was a deliberate attack and they had come back for us. I reached down and I said to myself ‘they are not going to take another one.’
“I had my son, I had my family and I had what so many others that day, friends and colleagues, didn’t have –I had a chance, and I wasn’t going to squander one moment of it.”
Cantor Fitzgerald lost 658 staff in the attacks but Lauren Manning survived. She suffered burns over 82 percent of her body. She spent three months in hospital, the first month of it in a medically induced coma, and a further three months in rehab before being allowed home to Greg and their son Tyler.
“What pulled me through was the love of my family and the vision of my son and the desire, certainly, to build our family,” she said. “Years later, after many fruitless tries and many heart-aching disappointments, we were finally able to welcome our second child almost two years ago, Jagger Thomas.”
Greg Manning wrote a book about his wife’s remarkable recovery, “Love, Greg & Lauren,” which was published in 2002. Now Lauren has followed up with “Unmeasured Strength,” which she subtitles “A Survivor’s Awe Inspiring Story of how She Overcame Tragedy and Recreated Herself as a Wife, Mother and Woman.”
She said the 9/11 attacks changed her life. “What was a past that I felt in some ways wasn’t perfect became radically imperfect as I battled through near-zero odds for many months at a time.
“What has primarily changed me is the understanding that the generosity and hope that we have for each other is extraordinary. The prayers and letters and thoughts from complete strangers lifted and carried me in days when it was certainly hard to even breathe, let alone think about regaining any quality of life.”
And the message she feels she gave the terrorists by refusing to die is the “extraordinary well of strength” that Americans have.
“Whatever your path is, we’ve all been wounded and touched by illness, violence or tragedy at some point in our lives and although we have been met with it, we need not be defined by it. We can refuse to be held by it.
“My message is, whatever the road is, no matter how imperfect, no matter how hard it is to get up and face the next day, take a breath, live it one moment at a time and surely things will get better. If not, you will feel good for giving it your best effort.”
As for the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Manning will spend it with her “Cantor Fitzgerald family” at a memorial service.
“It is a day of thinking about all that my colleagues and so many others that day gave and how hard they fought and it is a day of celebration for those that are left behind, the lives we have been able to lead, seeing families, children, grow and what they’ve become, the fine young men and women that they are.
“It’s a day touched and linked with both sadness but moments of joy.”
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