Mural Thanks Gander for Hosting Stranded Travelers on 9/11
As the terrorist attacks unfolded on the morning of September 11, U.S. airspace closed and Canadian air traffic scrambled to land as many commercial flights as possible as soon as possible.
On 9/11, Florence Jones escaped from her office on the 77th floor of the South Tower. Unfortunately many of her coworkers did not. Years later, she donated the black pair of shoes she wore on her harrowing decent to safety. They are now on display in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
Fifteen years after 9/11, Jones reflects on the day that changed her life forever and discusses her decision to share her story with the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
Q: How are you going to mark the 15-year anniversary?
Jones: This year Sept. 11 is a Sunday and I am going to go on a scavenger hunt with my 12-year-old nephew. And I will be spending Sept. 10 celebrating a 50-year-wedding anniversary. It’s about finding positive things. I usually get nervous about a month before and then I find something positive for that day. I’ve learned that I need to make time for the things that make me feel good.
Q: How is your life different 15 years after the attacks?
Jones: I have a friend in Italy who is dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake over there and I’ve been giving her advice about things that I learned that she can do to help herself calm down. How to not get so panicky over things that you have no control over. That’s what I have learned: the world is a changing place and the only thing that you can control is how you react to it.
Q: Do you still think about your experience on Sept. 11?
Jones: I think about the people that we lost all the time. But I now understand that there is nothing that I can do to change that. It takes a long time to get there. I was the last person to talk to many of the people who died that day, it’s taken a while for me to deal with that. For the first five years it was very hard. But once we got past the 5-year anniversary, things got better and I started doing things like working with the museum and my health clinic.
Q: What is it like for you to be a part of the 9/11 Memorial Museum?
Jones: I remember the first time I came to the museum when it was opening, as I was on the escalator going down into the space and I had to stop and take a minute. It was like, 'Oh my God, it’s actually real.' When you realize where you are it’s very moving, it really is.
By Jenny Pachucki, 9/11 Memorial Content Strategist
Below is an archival video of Jones explaining the importance of donating her shoes she wore during her escape from the South Tower on 9/11.