America's Last Day of Innocence

Where were you September 10, 2001?

A year ago today -- our nation's last day of innocence.

USA Today's Rick Hampson offers a poignant, if not tearful look back at the randomness of fate and the lives full of unexpected ironies.

There's the story of Joe Kelly, enjoying a rain-delayed Yankee game this night, a year ago, with his sons Christopher and Thomas. This would be his last full day on earth. The next day he was due early at work at the 105th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

September 10, 2001 is the first day on the job for Scott Vasel, an insurance disaster specialist of all things, who loved his view from his desk on the 97th floor of the North Tower.

There's Paul Beatini, who is staying home with his two little girls this day because his wife has a meeting. September 11 he'd be at a meeting himself, on the 105th floor.

Or of Dorothy Chiarchiaro, who's a waitress at Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the North Tower. She normally works Mondays, but needs the day off to be with her granddaughters. She'll go in Tuesday, September 11 instead.

All gone now. All so vibrant and alive then.

There are snippets of a day that seems so far away. Construction at Newark Airport, causing delays. A big primary eve race in New York, causing some heated headlines. A World Trade center developer who promises the sky's the limit for retailing there.

That night, it rains, hard. A year ago. The Yankee game is cancelled. Joe Kelly takes his sleepy sons, Christopher and Thomas, back home. Early the next morning he leaves for work, before any of them are up. He never returns. The rest is history.

Reminders, as if we need them, to treasure the moments, because the moments might not last.

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