A 9/11 survivor urges, ‘always remember and never forget’

Aug. 02, 2014 @ 10:40 AM

At the July 10 meeting of the Rotary Club of Roxboro at The Gathering Place, Joe Dittmar gave a first-hand account of his experiences as he escaped from the 105th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center when the terrorist plane hit the building September 11, 2001. Some 44 guests and members listened as Dittmar shared his experience of survival on that unforgettable day.

Dittmar is a 35-year veteran of the insurance industry, where he is serving as director – property underwriting for Rockhill Specialty Programs in Durham. He has held senior management positions of Colony Insurance, Lexington Insurance, Allianz Global Risks, CNA Insurance Company and Wausau/Liberty Mutual Insurance. A native of Philadelphia, he moved to the Chicago area in 1997, and subsequently to Washington, to the Richmond, Virginia, area and on to Chapel Hill, where he is a current resident.

On September 11, 2001, Joe was attending a normal business meeting with representatives of various commercial insurance carriers at the NYC offices of Chicago-based AON Corporation on the 105th floor of Two World Trade Center. One of only seven survivors of the meeting of 54 insurance executives, Joe's sharing of his experience that day gave an informational, historical, inspirational and even motivational insight into one of the most incredible events in U.S. and world history.

Joe is a devoted husband and a father of four, grandfather of two and a member of the Naperville 9/11 Memorial Commission. Dittmar's eyewitness account of the sights, sounds and scenes from inside and outside the World Trade Center complex presented an intriguing and gripping perspective on what really happened before, during and after the terrorist attacks.

While steeped with facts and observations of historic proportions, his presentation also presented concepts and ideas on what was learned that day and what lessons we can continue to teach. These lessons were not only historical, but personal, philosophical, ethical and social. The recitation of his journey from the 105th floor of 2 WTC all the way back to Aurora, Illinois, in a 36-hour period provided a wealth of insight on an event that not only changed the world, but changed the way we proceed with our daily lives as Americans and residents of an ever-compacting world community.

His offering stressed the point of “always remember and never forget,” allowing all of us to help him continue to “tell the story” so that perhaps history doesn't have to repeat itself.