Thursday evening, Charles Kaczorowski returned to a familiar and ultra-meaningful site.
Oklahoma Christian University is the only place in the world outside of New York City to have survivor trees from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and the World Trade Center growing side by side. For the eighth year in a row, guests from New York have come on April 18 to commemorate the Oklahoma City bombing.
For Kaczorowski, the pilgrimage to the sacred spot located just west of the Mabee Learning Center is on his annual must-do list. He comes feeling like a drained battery, he said. He leaves re-energized, refreshed and restored.
TOO MANY FATEFUL DAYS
Back in 1990, while he was working for Shearson Lehman Hutton's facilities department, Kaczorowski had an office on the 106th floor of 2 World Trade Center.
Three years later, at 12:17 p.m. on Feb. 26, 1993, the Vietnam veteran was working in 3 World Financial Center on his lunch break in the concourse going down the escalator to the path trains for their schedule when the whole place shook.
“When I felt the concussion, it took me back to Vietnam,” said Kaczorowski, a Navy Seabee from 1969-70.
Terrorists had detonated 1,500 pounds of explosives in a van parked in the underground public lot of the World Trade Center two levels below the southern wall of the North Tower. The attack killed six people, injured more than 1,000 and created a five-story crater beneath the towers.
Less than a month later, the WTC was open for business.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Kaczorowski was arriving at the World Trade Center in New York City.
At about 9 a.m., he was coming from the subway station at Vesey and Church streets, delayed by a subway delay, which made him late for a scheduled 8:30 a.m. breakfast meeting in the Trade Center Concourse.
He emerged less than 25 yards from the North Tower.
“I saw the towers burning,” he said.
When the South Tower began collapsing, Kaczorowski was a block away. He ran as fast as humanly possible away from the dust cloud.
“I never looked back,” he said. “I just kept on running.”
He made it to a nearby building and took cover. Efforts to connect by phone with his wife were hampered by system overloads. Then he heard the North Tower coming down.
When the second tower fell, 35 years of his life were literally wiped clean from his mind and heart like it never existed, he said.
At 8 a.m. on Sept. 25, 2001, Kaczorowski returned to Ground Zero where he supervised the operations for the midnight-8 a.m. shift for the City of New York Department of Design and Construction until July 1, 2002.
Pieces of his memories gradually came back as bodies were recovered from Ground Zero. Like many others who were there he suffers from health issues related to breathing the air; he also has various issues related to his service in Vietnam.
‘I FIND PEACE’
At OC, Kaczorowski wasn’t alone. He was joined by survivors and others from New York and from Oklahoma.
During a chilly evening which looked and felt more like January than April 18, members of 419 Outreach, founded by Oklahoma City bombing family members, survivors and responders, Ronald Vega, director of design and construction of the National September 11 Memorial and OC representatives came together for a quiet ceremony near the survivor trees.
Since 2005, Kaczorowski has been coming to Oklahoma for the Oklahoma City bombing anniversary.
“When I first came here I was so touched by the memorial,” Kaczorowski said as the guests were about to be treated to dinner at OC. “This the most peaceful memorial in the entire country. I come here, seriously, on the 19th of April, I go out by the chairs, I lay down in the grass on my back and I cleanse my body, my soul, my mind and my heart. It’s so peaceful here. I find peace, tranquility and serenity here.”
When he leaves, he feels reborn.
Risa Forrester, OC’s vice president for admissions and marketing, said the campus is blessed to have the survivor trees and granite from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and an iron cross from the World Trade Center at the site.
“For this group to choose our home to put these items at our place is really, really special for our family here,” she said.
When people come from across the world on campus tours, the spot is a must-see place, Forrester said. It helps them remember that peace is paramount and no matter what good always wins, she said.
Neil Arter, OC’s vice president for student life and dean of students, said every year the ceremony is special. Guests never want to forget and there is something more.
“We kind of have these living heroes,” Arter said of the New York and Oklahoma folks. “They come and they really just show you everything that’s great about human nature.”
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Thursday evening, Charles Kaczorowski returned to a familiar and ultra-meaningful site.
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Touchmark residents give ‘thumbs up’ to new YMCA
Senior citizens from Touchmark bundled up, braved the cold and the icy roads this week and traveled to the Edmond YMCA Recreation & Aquatic Center at Mitch Park on Covell.
The tour group was one of more than 100 that have been guided through the new facility to show what will be available when it is finished. This $22.5 million facility is a joint project with the the Edmond School District, the City of Edmond and the YMCA.
Joining the group and donning hard hats were Touchmark residents Ellie Lottinville, Judith Harris, Jimmie Cook, John Wayant and Richard Newville along with Carla Scull, Touchmark’s director of life enrichment, and Jesse Walls, driver.
Guthrie-Edmond airport looks to upgrade
The Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport board was told Tuesday by officials from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission that GERA is in good shape but work needs to continue to help maximize everything the airport has to offer.
The board was given a presentation by OAC director Vic Bird and Dale Williams, OAC planning division manager about the state of the aviation industry in Oklahoma and how airports the size of GERA are faring.
AAA: Teens report ‘TWD’ significantly less than adults
High school-aged teens report using their phones or texting while driving substantially less often than adults do, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
While the public often cites teens as being the most common offenders, a recent survey found that adult drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to admit engaging in these risky behaviors behind the wheel.
Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, said young novice drivers, who are especially susceptible to distracted driving crashes, are using their phones while driving less than older drivers.
AAA to offer free Tipsy Tow rides
Before climbing behind the wheel after drinking at a holiday party, AAA Oklahoma hopes you’ll think again and call them for a free Tipsy Tow ride home for you, your vehicle and one more person.
“Over Christmas and New Year’s, up to 40 percent of all traffic crashes involve alcohol,” said Edmond resident Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “But motorists do have options: Use a designated driver, serve non-alcoholic mocktails at parties or call AAA for a Tipsy Tow.”
Paycom plans HoliDazzle event to benefit Warmth 4 Winter Coat Drive
Paycom has teamed with News Channel 4, The Salvation Army and Rotary Club of South Oklahoma City to host HoliDazzle, a free event at Remington Park on Thursday to kick-off the annual Warmth 4 Winter coat drive.
Parents and children are encouraged to bring a new or gently used coat from 3:30-7:30 p.m. to help ensure that every child and adult stays warm during Oklahoma’s harsh winter months. Those who contribute are encouraged to enjoy an afternoon of holiday fun with train rides, pictures with Santa, hot cocoa and cookies.
Lilyfield reschedules ‘Dunks for Diapers’
Lilyfield Christian Adoption and Foster Care has rescheduled its Dunks for Diapers event.
Lilyfield holds a diaper drive with the Oklahoma Christian University Women’s basketball team to benefit foster children. Anyone bringing diapers, wipes or new baby items for ages 0-24 months will gain free admission to the women’s game versus Lubbock Christian University, which will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Eagles’ Nest on the campus of Oklahoma Christian in Edmond.
“This will allow us to give foster families much-needed necessities when they receive placement of a foster child. Often placements happen with little notice and the child may come into a foster home with nothing but the clothes they are wearing,” said Holly Towers, executive director of Lilyfield Christian Adoption and Foster Care.
Twitter reacts to Time's Person of the Year
Time has announced its Person of the Year for 2013: Pope Francis. The announcement, seen live on the "Today" show Wednesday, generated immediate reaction on Twitter. Here is a sampling.
Cold impacts Edmond businesses, city services
Roger Seaton is operating manager of Edmond Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing, 3104 South Kelly Ave., owned by the Seaton family since 1970.
On Tuesday, for the first time in days, the temperature in the Edmond area rose above 32 degrees. At 2:53 p.m. Tuesday, the temperature was 41 degrees at the Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport, surpassing the predicted high of 34, according to the National Weather Service.
Seaton’s business offers plumbing services including water line work and repairs to faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. When it comes to plumbing calls, pipes that burst are a priority, Seaton said. It takes a while for pipes to freeze, he said, and residents began calling by Friday. Calls during the cold spell were both about frozen pipes and pipes that had burst.
If you have no water coming out of a faucet, shut off the water upstream and open cabinet doors to get warmer air circulating around pipes, Seaton said.
School back in session Wednesday
Parents are heaving a sign of relief while some students aren’t going to be quite as happy.
“All classes and activities will resume Wednesday in Edmond Public Schools,” said Susan Parks-Schlepp, director of public information and community involvement. “Slick spots remain and buses may be running a bit late but secondary roads are in much better shape after significant thawing.”
As reported earlier, students will not be making up the four snow days taken off from school this past week.
Kelly widening project progressing
Work progresses smoothly for the Kelly widening project, City Manager Larry Stevens said before the City Council this week. Road work began in July about 1,000 feet north of Covell and continues north to a point 350 feet south of Coffee Creek.
Duit Construction/TTK Construction is in charge of constructing a four-lane divided roadway with left turn lanes at all public streets along the project on Kelly going from Covell to Coffee Creek.
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