My name is Bruce Salvog, and I’ve known Ross for about 25 years now; we actually met through our wives who became close in graduate school in Seattle in the mid-80’s. We have remained good friends and admirers of Ross’ work ever since. As a survivor of that horrific day, I am especially honored to support Ross’ 9/11 sculpture project, as it beautifully captures the spirit that endures to this day. I was in an elevator in the South Tower when the first plane hit, on my way to a breakfast speech at Windows on the World on the top floor of the North Tower. After escaping a block away, the second plane flew right over my head into the Tower I had just left. Five minutes either way and I wouldn’t be offering this testimonial.
After watching dozens jump and the Towers fell, I was trapped with thousands of others along the railing in Battery Park by acrid black smoke for nearly 3 hours. What resonates even today are the innumerable acts of courage and kindness I witnessed: from the firefighters running toward the Towers we were escaping, to strangers who assisted the injured and infirm, to the Jewish security guys who came down from the diamond district to pass out water and gas masks to those with respiratory difficulty, and all who spontaneously formed a human chain to lower people over the railing to the deck of a pitching ferry boat that would take us across the Hudson to safety. The spirit of selflessness was amazing.
Once the ferry dropped us in Jersey City, a fellow approached me out of the crowd of thousands to ask how I was doing since I was still covered in a layer of dust. Unbelievably, he was a financial writer scheduled to hear my breakfast speech at 9:00 but missed his train because his son was sick. It obviously saved his life. Thanks to his local knowledge and ingenuity, we managed to make it to his hometown of Red Bank, NJ that afternoon. I would later learn that mine is one of thousands of stories of astonishing “serendipity,” far too many to be mere coincidence. Rather, the epiphany I experienced was that there are no coincidences, that God has a plan for me that is being revealed in His time and terms, not mine. That the fear and anger I felt are antithetical to spiritual health, and can only be overcome by acceptance and faith. What I didn’t know on 9/11 but realize now is that I was spared for a reason. It involves service to others: from caring for aging parents, supporting widowed friends, helping at a charity, sharing the joys of Life with my wife of 30 years, or simply doing the next right thing. It is a path of spiritual growth, illuminated by 9/11 and beautifully reflected in Ross’ sculpture.