79-year-old James Higdon spends his retirement years as the Historian for the Andy Anderson American Legion Post 125 and President of Chapter One of the New York Transit Retirees of Florida. He and his wife retired in St. Petersburg in 1990, but before then, both worked for several decades in New York.
On September 11, 2001, Higdon and his wife watched the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on the news.
“It must be terrorists,” he told his wife. “Before I could get my entire sentence out, the second plane hit,” Higdon said.
But, they weren’t watching history unfold in their living room in Florida, they were in New York, visiting family.
Higdon’s shock turned to concern when calls weren’t going through to his family. His grand daughter Rochelle Hathorne worked just one block away from the World Trade Center.
“When she got home, she was covered in soot.” He said she walked home; the city was in gridlock.
“She said she saw people jump and she saw limbs all around the building.”
“It was a sad occasion, that day,” he said.
Higdon and his family lost friends that day.
Despite the tragic events, Higdon says the patriotism across the country has grown and continues to grow as the Freedom Tower is constructed.