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by TONY RUTHERFORD
Once upon a time New York City represented America’s fantasyland. A city that never sleeps. The challenge of “making it” in the #1 city in the world. A place where dreams and fortunes are made, but nightmares and poverty abounds.

Several years ago I had the privilege of accompanying a group of Marshall University theatre students, faculty, staff and friends for a Broadway adventure. We arrived 12 hours late after forging through a blizzard. Tired and weary eyed we say the New York City skyline; we were reenergized!

During our few days and nights there, we saw shows, watched some tapings and did some sightseeing. I convinced my then-fiance, whom I’ll call “Patty Sunshine,” to play hooky from a Saturday morning Metropolitan Opera tour. I wanted to go to the World Trade Center!

Although slightly frightened by the nearly deserted subways on a Saturday morning, we arrived at the concourse. Tightened security abounded, just a year or so before a bomb had gone off in the garage. But from looking at the majestic towers and the glass concourse, you could not see a blemish.

After passing through security portals that separated workers from tourists, we stood in line to board the elevator to the observation deck. Smiling slyly at her, I asked, “Wonder if we can kiss to the top?” She laughed , remembering the 45 floors of giggles a couple of days before at the Empire State Building. She looked at me defiantly, “Get in the back of the elevator!”

When the car arrived, we huddled in the back, took several deep breaths, and put our lips together. As the car ushered us 1300 feet into the air, we maintained our pucker. We could claim a “world record” – we had kissed all the way to the top of the tallest building in the world!

Months later, the anger, bitterness and jealousy of friends , family and foes would destroy our planned marriage. For years my hear has weeped , knowing that “Sunshine” and I will never mutually scrawl “I love you’s” on each others foreheads.

Now, tens of thousands of men and women and boy and girls grieve. Their girlfriend, boyfriend, mother, father, aunt , uncle, son or daughter will never again say “I love you” for on a cloudy September day their souls were swept into the heavens by the furor of madmen.

And, sadly, no one else will ever kiss to the top of the World Trade Center like “Sunshine” and me did that cold and snowy Saturday morning.