Blind 9/11 survivor shares tale at JJC
BY BRIAN STANLEY firstname.lastname@example.org September 12, 2013 6:56PM
Updated: October 15, 2013 7:18AM
JOLIET — Michael Hingson had just gotten out of the World Trade Center moments before Tower 2 collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.
“It sounded like a freight train and a waterfall together,” he told students, staff and visitors Thursday at Joliet Junior College, recounting the terrorist attacks that he survived. “I heard the glass shattering, the metal (twisting) and then it was a ‘white noise.’ ”
Hingson recalled thinking how walking down 77 flights of stairs to get out of a burning building only to have it fall on top of you seemed cruel. But once the thought crossed his mind, it was followed by a voice telling him not to worry about what he couldn’t control and to do what he could.
So he kept running and concentrated on following Roselle, a golden retriever the blind man used as his guide dog.
Since 9/11, Hingson has given thousands of presentations about his experiences and his desire for people to learn from it.
“9/11 basically happened because we weren’t watching, we weren’t listening, we weren’t paying attention to what’s happening in the world,” he said. “After 9/11 there was a lot of unity and mutual support in this country, but now it’s totally fragmented (among) politicians.”
But “working together” is what the former technology sales manager emphasized during his lecture. Hingson cited the destruction caused by a small number of terrorists, the massive response of firefighters and police officers, how he and Roselle relied on each other, and the inclusion of the disabled into the mainstream of various organizations and political movements as various examples of what teamwork accomplishes.
“I may not do things the same way, but it can still be done,” Hingson said.
Roselle died two years ago, but she is fondly remembered in the bestselling book Hingson co-authored with Suzy Flory — “Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero.”
Hingson now uses another female retriever named Africa.
“My job is to keep 9/11 real,” he said. “Especially to children who don’t have memory of it. We shouldn’t just mourn it.”