Wayne Mones, a 17-year Audubon Society veteran who works in the development department, was taking his commuter bus to work through New York City's Financial District on September 11 when the world as we know it came crumbling down. "I saw a plane disappear into the south tower of the World Trade Center," he says. "Suddenly, there was a huge explosion and a fireball. It was just raining debris--an unbelievable torrent of paper, dust, and grit. I saw a few people jump out of the building. On an intellectual level, I knew what was happening. Emotionally, it had not caught up with me. People began running uptown from the scene. They just looked shocked. Many were falling down to their knees, crying."

For Audubon Society employees in the home office in lower Manhattan, about a mile from ground zero, the death and devastation visited on the United States was not some abstraction filtered through newspapers and television, but a nightmarish reality. Some, on their way to work, saw the crash-bound planes grazing the skyline. Later, some 40 Auduboners--their faces tear-stained and ashen--huddled together on our building’s rooftop, watching the twin towers collapse. They tried to console an employee whose father worked on the 35th floor of one of the towers. He, unlike more than 5,000 others, did not perish.

If you want to read the editorial that was supposed to appear in this space, please click here. Its subject, the extinction of species, has nothing to do with the nation’s awful tragedy and everything to do with it. Aldo Leopold’s land ethic implored humans to “respect fellow members and also respect the community” of other living things on earth. As conservationists, we understand that life in its many forms is an all-too-tenuous gift--and, therefore, precious, worth cherishing with all our souls.


© 2001  NASI

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