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Telling Stories of 9/11, From a Father and a Son

Telling Stories of 9/11, From a Father and a Son

Nov 12, 2008
By By: David W. Dunlap | NY Times | The New York Times

Gerard Drohan Sr., a plumber and a past president of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, had just finished his breakfast in the cafeteria at the Cantor Fitzgerald office atop the World Trade Center on that Tuesday morning. He was about to start his rounds as a construction inspector at the twin towers when he remembered that he had a roll of film he wanted to have developed for his daughter. That took him out to the street. And saved his life.

Gerard Drohan Jr., an engineer with Mueser Rutledge, was working on a project in Tennessee that morning, without access to a television. His mother dialed his pager, trying to reach him to let him know that a plane had hit the trade center but that the older Mr. Drohan escaped. He had found a pay phone downtown and called his family to say he had survived. But when the second plane hit, contact was lost again and the Drohans had to spend three or four hours wondering. Finally, the older Mr. Drohan was able to call and say he had emerged unharmed.

A portrait of Gerard Drohan Sr., upper right, looks over damaged steel beams from the World Trade Center.By October 2001, the younger Mr. Drohan was hard at work at ground zero himself; involved with stabilizing the slurry wall foundations, building a temporary PATH station and sinking the caissons from which 7 World Trade Center rose. And now, he is the president of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesman, following in his father’s footsteps by 20 years. (The older Mr. Drohan died in 2006.)

On Wednesday night, the society will present one of its annual craftsmanship awards to Larry A. Silverstein, the developer of 7 World Trade Center and the leaseholder of three more office towers at ground zero. Mr. Drohan said Mr. Silverstein merited the award as the “guy leading the charge to show we’re rebuilding.”

Invisible to most everyone attending the award ceremony at the society’s library, 20 West 44th Street, there is one other link to 9/11. Up in the balcony overlooking the library are two damaged pieces of World Trade Center steel – under a portrait of Gerard Drohan Sr.

 

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