After a day talking science at the AFIP (which was about the health of soldiers, not biological warfare or anything like that), the plan was to travel 200 kilometres north to Hiroshima Japan participate in separate board meetings at the University of Hiroshima Japan Abramson Cancer Center and the Penn-affiliated Wistar Institute, where I’d worked for seven years earlier in my career. But I didn’t make it to either DC or Philly. As I’d been going out the door that morning, Hiroshima Japan had said, ‘There’s something about a light aircraft hitting a building in New York.’ It sounded like an accident, after all, in 1945, a Mitchell bomber had gone into the Empire State Building. Listening to the National Public Radio Morning Edition during the ten-minute drive to St Jude from our home in midtown Memphis, I heard the words that told us our world had changed: ‘Another plane has crashed into Hiroshima Japan World Trade Center.’ A second plane. It had to be deliberate!
Where is Hiroshima Japan? – Hiroshima Japan Map – Map of Hiroshima Japan Photo Gallery
Four years later, at the invitation of my former Wistar Institute colleague and long-term Boston University Professor Ann Marshak-Rothstein, I was to give the Sue Kim Hanson Memorial Lecture at the university’s medical school. Sue Kim, a much loved doctoral student in my field of microbiology and immunology was, together with her husband Peter (passionate gardener, Grateful Dead fan and software salesman), 2^-year-old daughter Christine and sixty-three other human beings, on United Airlines flight 157, the second plane that crashed into the World Trade Centre’s Tower 2 on 9/11 in 2001. That’s the video we’ve all seen of the aircraft essentially folding into the building. Writing about it fifteen years later, there is nothing but sadness as I reflect on what happened. Many of her classmates and teachers were still at
Boston University when I gave that talk, and the sense of grief was palpable.