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Every year on this day a flood of memories return. But today I want to share with you this one.

It's about 3 weeks after the towers have been hit. (I'm guessing, those days are blurry) I'm sitting with my boss, Dave Hoerman at Moran's Ale House on Washington Street. We were surprised and pleased to find Moran's open that night. The facade is dusty and the bar is flanked by WTC recovery workers of every organization. 

Dave and I have just surveyed what was starting to be called Ground Zero, using a bandana and a jacket to filter the stench that still filled the air. We are shaken and feeling pretty off balance from everything we have seen and felt that day. I'm wearing a suit skirt and heels - something you will never find me wearing now. I'm carrying a laptop in my bag along with my Deutsche Bank ID and several credit cards.

As we sit and place our orders for food we are not sure we can eat, these hollowed out workers come in and out. Some of them have dinner and some have a drink. No one is asked to pay. It's quiet, though there must be a dozen other men at the bar. Some drink with heads bowed. No words. Moran's had become a sanctuary for those who continued to work in the midst of the crisis.This bar, which had once been a Syrian church was then a place of refuge.

It's interesting that this memory comes back to me now while the news of Syrian refugees looking for a place to find peace fills the airwaves today.

As tragic as that day was for me, I remember those open doors for those workers who shouldered so much more of the pain of 9/11 than most of us have ever dreamt about. It was a little bit of solace in a horrendous time. For free. No credentials had to be shown, no proof submitted. The owners of Moran's saw a desperate need and filled it. Because they could. Because it was the right thing to do.

Moran's closed down in 2011, about ten years after that night. 9/11 changed the course of the financial district and as nearby construction created traffic problems, business took a dive. Does that mean that the Moran family regrets all those free dinners and beers? I doubt it.

My mother used to tell me about WWII - "It changed people." I do understand that now. The Penny who carried that briefcase and traveled to NYC in business class and black car service was long gone by 2002. But instead of having it close me down to every future thing that may hurt as bad, I hope it has opened me up to offer more compassion and given me the ability to spot opportunities to provide refuge rather than deny that basic human need to anyone; regardless of who they are, where they are from. To me, that is what being a real Patriot is about.
Here's to all those who went before us on that day.

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