“The best way I can describe it was a roller coaster of emotions, because it began with disbelief and shock. Then it was followed by sorrow and sadness,” Griffo said. “Then it was anger, and ultimately, it was just a surreal experience that this was taking place.”
In September 2001, Griffo was the Mayor of Rome, New York, and he was in the city for a bond sale. He and members of his staff arrived in New York City on September 10, and stayed at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan. They woke up the next morning, turned on the news, looked outside, and saw a commotion.
It wasn’t until the second plane hit that they realized what was going on. “Everybody, I think, started to understand that this was an attack,” Griffo said. “It was not a coincidence or accident.”
The senator and his team were far enough away from the towers to be safe, but close enough to see and experience what was happening. He recalls walking out of the hotel and seeing people exiting subways, trying to figure out how they were going to get home.
“There was a camaraderie that day out of the pain and suffering that everyone was experiencing and the uncertainty and the disbelief,” Griffo says.
Two decades later, the senator wants to make sure people remember how they felt during that fateful day. “It’s a day that, I think, not only having been there to experience it firsthand—because everyone will know and remember where they were. It was that kind of defining moment,” Griffo said. “Ultimately, the raw emotions, I think, we need to continue to connect with.”