Two men who escaped from the World Trade Center towers one year ago have eerily similar stories. Both are Christians, were born outside of America, followed a light to safety that day, and survived with the help of people they didn't know. And both were on the 81st floor.
One difference between Stanley Praimnath and Sujo John is that though they worked on the same floor, they were in different towers.
Praimnath, a vice president of Fuji Bank, worked in the South Tower. He was born in British Guyana and moved to the U.S. in 1981. His story of surviving the terrorist attacks is featured in the current issue of Christian Reader, a Christianity Today sister publication.
John, who worked for a telecommunications company in the North Tower, was born in Calcutta, India, and came to America in February 2001. He writes about how September 11 changed his life in Do You Know Where You Are Going? (Lantern Books).
The first strike
Most mornings, John and his wife, Mary, rode to work together on the subway since her office was in the Trade Center's South Tower. But fourteen weeks into her first pregnancy, Mary had recently been sleeping in and going to work later.
On September 11, John arrived at work alone at 7:30. Just over an hour later, one of John's colleagues yelled, "It's a plane!" as the first jet smashed into the tower above him. In his book, John writes:
There was a colossal explosion. The windows immediately shattered, causing papers and debris to fly out and be blown into our office. We could feel the building tilting to the left at the force of the impact, and the steel girders that supported all the floors creaked. I could see fireballs shooting out of the building.
John landed on the floor and prayed. He soon joined coworkers ...1