Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2021
In 2011, the AmNews interviewed Frederick Myers, a two-time survivor of both World Trade Center attacks in 1993 and 2001. This year’s 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks he’s living his life with resilience.
A former employee of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for 20 years, which had its headquarters in the World Trade Center, Myers worked on the 64th floor of the North Tower. While Myers was not in the building during the 1993 bombing and the 2001 plane crashes, he considers himself a survivor because during both instances, he was supposed to be in the buildings.
At 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower between the 93rd and 94th floors, and the tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m. Myers’ regular schedule would have had him in his office at the time. He was late for work that day. Most of his co-workers were killed that day.
“I’ve skipped over two terrorist attacks,” he said in his 2011 interview. “I can’t explain it. All survivors didn’t come out with dust and blood on their faces. My testimony is that God steered me away from death two times. I was steered away from harm’s way two times.”
Since that time, the AmNews has run Myers’ story annually to coincide with the 9/11 commemoration. Over the years, the piece has received numerous comments praising Myers for his bravery and story of surviving. There were also questions about what happened to him.
Ten years later, Myers and his now-27-year-old daughter Lauren sat down with the AmNews to give readers an update on his triumphs and continued success 20 years after the 9/11 attacks.
“September 11 just fortified my relationship with my God,” Myers said. “I listen very closely to the directions to what assignment he wants me to have. What I want people to know is that we’ve got to take care of each other. We have to take care of ourselves, self-care is paramount.”
Over the past 10 years, Myers says he still doesn’t look at the news coverage of the 9/11 commemorations because of the painful memories of the co-workers he lost. He has walked through the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Lower Manhattan.
“The pain is there but one of the things that I have learned how to do is turn the pain into action,” Myers said. “You can sit around and you can grieve, you can remember, but you need to take some action.”
Some of the action includes continuing to advise the group of young men he mentored while working for the Port Authority. He still serves as an advisor to the men who have moved through the agency and created families of their own.
Myers is currently enrolled in a doctoral program at the historically-Black Morgan State University’s Community College Leadership Program with plans to become a community college president.
“One of the things that I feel like I can do is contribute to the education of those who are coming behind me,” he said. “That’s the work I’m interested in doing. Trying to create situations where people are empowered.”
Along with being a survivor of 9/11, Myers is also a cancer survivor. In December 2020 he was diagnosed with cancer and as of July he is cancer free.
“These are life hurdles that are unexpected but you’re never going to have enough tenacity to overcome those hurdles,” Myers said. “Every hurdle is an opportunity for God to strengthen you and to fortify you.”
Myers credits his daughter Lauren for keeping him motivated. On the day of the 9/11 attacks, Lauren was in the second grade. On that day she thought her father had gone to work and when she found out what was going on she didn’t know where her father was. She eventually received a call from him confirming he was alright.
One of the things that made Myers late for work on 9/11 was having to walk his daughter to the bus stop for school.
Today at age 27, Lauren holds two associates degrees, a bachelor’s degree and is contemplating a masters degree. She said seeing her father on his emotional journey and success has motivated her.
“If he hadn’t walked me to the bus stop, he probably would have been at the towers,” Lauren said. “It’s motivating for me to keep going, especially with my education and to overcome trauma like that in a positive way.”
Lauren says she wants to work with victims of domestic violence and has interest in getting a masters degree in psychology.
Part of Myers’ healing included mental health and he says he’s better now than he was 10 years ago. He maintains his criticism that the Port Authority at the time didn’t do enough to address the mental health of people who suffered both World Trade Center attacks. Myers said the suffering of African Americans during and after 9/11 has still not been told and addressed sufficiently.
“Many of the African Americans who suffered from 9/11 were in service capacity, very much like COVID,” he said. “They were the busboys, they were the cooks, they were the servers, they were maintenance people. Those folks made the World Trade Center great. The African American voice is kind of silent for a couple of people who wanted to grandstand.”
Myers concluded, “My message is, keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter if you stumble, even if you fall, the gospel song says, ‘we fall down but we get up.’ I welcome any adversity, any challenge. I’ve been fortunate, I’ve been blessed.”