NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Ten years ago, a victim of the World Trade Center attacks survived against nearly impossible odds and shared her harrowing, and inspiring, story with us.
For the landmark 20th commemoration, she spoke with Kristine Johnson once again.READ MORE: Tunnel to Towers Weekend Kicks Off With Lynyrd Skynyrd Concert At Liberty Park
Johnson spoke with Lauren Manning to see how she is doing now.
Johnson met Manning on the Memorial Plaza.
“How does it feel to be here?” Johnson asked.
“At once feels wrapped in an enormous number of memories both tragic and sad, but in so many ways hopeful. Just to see the World Trade Center rebuilt and this beautiful plaza and remembrance to all of those who are gone. So it’s a mixed feeling,” Manning said.
They first spoke a decade ago. Manning’s book, Unmeasured Strength, then just published, recalled her experience as a victim, and survivor, of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
“The entire 110 story tower is trembling. I see people lying on the floor covered in flames. Like them, I am on fire,” Manning wrote.
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In her own words, in incredible detail, she recalls that terrifying event that changed her life forever.
“The memories I have of the beauty of that morning, as so many of us do, and where I was, and what I was doing, was certainly hyper clear. And it was that clarity that in many ways, I think, helped me make the decision that decision to live,” Manning said.
Manning, on her way to work for Cantor Fitzgerald, was doused with jet fuel and on fire, running from the lobby of the North Tower. Her devastating injuries meant months in the hospital and countless surgeries. Even now, her healing is ongoing.READ MORE: 20 Years After: The Transformation Of Ground Zero
“I, I live in an ongoing state of pain. At times it’s more severe than others, the fragility of my skin,” Manning said. “The infections, the amputations, the lung collapses. I should have been gone long ago, but since then it has been just a struggle with plateaus that have been reached, and fortunately we don’t always stay on the top as long as we hope for,” Manning said.
Manning says she fought then, as she does today, for her children – her oldest son now in college. She adds she is not the only one who bears scars from this attack.
“Both of my children have certainly been impacted, from what they call an intergenerational traumatic perspective, and they’ve both suffered a latent PTSD. It is very difficult. When you both have the blessing of your mother. I am here, and that certainly is the biggest grace for them, although not many days, as they remind me. But it’s also the moment where they have to look at a body that is full of scars, full of the wounds of a war that they cannot quite imagine I ever could have survived,” Manning said.
She says there is still an emotional burden in the heaviness of these days, 20 years later.
“You have to prepare yourself emotionally as the dates get closer and closer?” Johnson asked.
“Yes, I think this year in particular, I’ve been preparing myself since the new year, that we were coming up on this landmark anniversary,” Manniing said. “And it’s, you kind of got to batten down the hatches, because the onslaught, and the wrongness of it all.”
She says hearing the names of friends and colleagues lost adds to the raw sadness of the occasion, but says it’s vital.
“Without this remembrance, it is too easy to forget the enormity and the tragedy, the impact not only on the immediate families, but now their children, and their children, their children’s children, and the world at large. Humanity is an imperfect race in all ways, but we do not continue to remain vigilant in support of each other,” Manning said.
It’s that support she says, that is a cornerstone for strength, her strength. Manning says it’s critical that we believe in ourselves, and in others to move forward.
“Precisely why the memorial is so important, and the names of those who are dead or recognized every year, is because it is an affirmation. It is the mortar that continues to cement together, a continuous building and rebuilding of who we are, both as a society, as a country,” Manning said.
And, most importantly, she says, there is also a grace, however fragile, in this day.MORE NEWS: Remembering 9/11: Live Reading Of Names Returns To Lower Manhattan Ceremony Honoring Victims Of Terror Attacks 20 Years Ago
“I went from being a cripple body with him, that I could not bend into a fist. And over time, I was finally able to create a fist, and in this is my unmeasured strength and the power we really all have to persevere. We believe everyone has that ability,” Manning said. “So truly, every day, as we approach the anniversary. I kind of consider it my second birthday. It’s just a rebirth of gladness and of joy.”