Man Remembers Where Twin Towers Were When He Was Attacked
Tomorrow is September 11th, which marks the fifth anniversary of when New York resident Thomas Tillman was attacked by a mugger early in the morning as he was walking to work.
The anniversary is a somewhat painful one for Tillman to endure, partially due to the naturally unpleasant nature of muggings. But he also finds himself being asked if he remembers where certain things were on the day that he was attacked, forcing him to relive the bad memories.
"I do remember where the twin towers were, for instance, on that fateful day," he says, unconsciously touching his pants pocket, where his old wallet resided before the mugger made off with it. Plans are in place for Tillman to obtain a new wallet, but nothing concrete has been started yet. "When I was mugged early that morning, they were standing in New York City, being towers."
"Oh yes, I remember," he adds with quiet yet powerful emotion. "I never forgot."
Others close to him also remember where certain things were on the day that Tillman was attacked.
"When I heard the news, I was brushing my teeth," says one acquaintance, tears streaming down his face. "I'm sorry, it's just...you just don't expect to hear something like that when you're brushing your teeth, for God's sake!"
"I'll never forget where Alpha Centauri was on that day," recalls Tillman's mother. "It was up there in the sky, 4.39 light-years distant from our own solar system. It's amazing what you can remember when the day is marked by tragedy."
Fortunately, the hurt of the incident is somewhat dulled with the generous outpouring of love and sympathy that Tillman receives not just from friends and family, but from the entire nation.
"I saw on the news today that President Bush and his wife were laying wreaths in honor of tomorrow," Tillman says with a weary smile. "And really, to know that the President can take time out of his focus on the situation in the Middle East to observe the fifth anniversary of one citizen's mugging is very heartwarming."
Tillman says that he appreciates the constant remembrance, especially around the anniversaries of the event, and hopes that they will continue on forever in order to encourage him to be more fearful.
"The last thing I need is to let this horrific event fade into the past as I look toward the present and future -- that'd be a great way to get mugged again," he explains. "Only by keeping my pain in mind all the time and in all decisions I make can I avoid being mugged. Just look at the U.S. -- we never forgot about the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked, and ever since then, we've been completely safe as far as I know."
Tillman's friend Don Lehney says that his friend's constant vigilance and new security measures, such as searching people's belongings before they enter his apartment, is the only thing that's kept him safe these past five years.
"There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that without focus on his defense, Thomas would've been attacked almost daily by now," he said firmly. "There has not been another attack on Thomas, and that's not an accident."
Still, true closure eludes Tillman. Although he has been identified, the mugger remains at large, despite the police assuring Tillman that "yeah, yeah, we're workin' on it." To help feel a sense of justice, he has since captured and imprisoned a different mugger that he believes may be friends with the original mugger somehow.
"I mean, all those muggers are pretty much the same, anyway, and I'm sure they've all plotted to take my wallet at one time or another," he says. "Besides, the more time that passes, the more I can almost believe that the mugger I keep in my basement now is really the one that I was after all along."