Philippe Petit and the Twin Towers belonged to each other. As a young man, Mr. Petit, who refers to himself as a self-proclaimed engineer from the school of day-dreams, didn't just take a deep breath and scurry from one tower to the other in 1974; he spent forty-five minutes dancing, leaping, and laughing as he crossed between the Twin Towers eight times. What he was teaching us was that exuberance, planning, and poise can take us anywhere. That is a vital lesson if we are to live up to the challenge before us – to build a World Trade Center that will equal and surpass its former glory.


In his book "To Reach the Clouds" Mr. Petit wrote the following poem. These are the words of a man who would willingly put his life on the line more than thirty years later to once again show us that daring is a synonym for truly living:

"Let us print WE SHALL NOT BE DOOMED and paste the message high in the sky, for all in the world to read aloud.

"Let us rebuild the twin towers.

"We need the fuel of time and money, the mortar of ideas . . .

"Bring yours.

"Here is mine . . . Architects, please make them more magnificent – try a twist, a quarter turn along their longitudinal axes. Make them higher – yes, one more floor, so they reach 111 stories high . . .

"When the towers again twin-tickle the clouds, I offer to walk again, to be the expression of the builders' collective voice. Together, we will rejoice in an aerial song of victory. I will carry my life across the wire, as your life, as all our lives, past, present, and future – the lives lost, the lives welcomed since.

"We can overcome."

The question for us is: Are we in retreat or will we once again stand tall?