Hardej works for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, a planning organization within the state Department of Transportation, and has relatives in Mount Tremper and a brother in law, Vinnie Cortina in Boiceville,
He works on the east side of lower Manhattan now, only 22 stories up. “I see the new buildings go up every day, and they’re still putting up a floor per week. I just learned today that they are up to the 82nd floor, coincidentally, the floor that I worked on.”
As you’d imagine, the experience of that day stays close.
“I think about it every day, especially with giving the tours. And being close to the site, you cannot not think about it every day. Every day I realize how lucky I am to be here.
Has it changed me? I don’t have a good answer to that. I like to think there’s been a change somewhere, but I’m the same basic person I was. Before 9/11, every day I woke up was a good day.
“The one thing is now that we’re coming up on the tenth anniversary, time heals and I guess people move on. It’s not as fresh in people’s minds, they’re more removed from 9/11 ten years later. What I see the tenth anniversary doing is bringing people back to that day so we can remember.
“Next week I’m speaking at a high school, and those kids were five years old. I’d be surprised if they remember what happened. Some of the kids on the tours weren’t even born. The tenth anniversary brings the possibility to refocus on the magnitude of what happened.”
How does he like the 9/11 memorial and redevelopment?
“I think it’s the right balance of a memorial to all those that perished…I mean 1100 people have never been identified. Eight acres is for the memorial, half of it. The other half for the rebuild. You obviously have to consider the families and all the other aspects. It seems a nice balance came out of the rebuild. I think the memorial area is being done very tastefully, two memorial waterfalls with the 9-11 memorial building in between and some of the artifacts.
“I have a vivid recall of all of this. Not only did I give you the details, but I wrote them down within a month, and it helps me with my tours, helps me remember what it was like back then. The smell, I kind of remember, I remember seeing the stairs, I remember walking outside, I remember quite a bit.