“It was one of those moments in which history splits, and we define the world as ‘before’ and ‘after.’”
Michael Hingson was on the seventy-eighth floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center when the first plane struck at 8:46 AM on Sept. 11, 2001.
Not knowing the situation, all Hingson knew was that he needed to evacuate. Elevators were out of the question — he needed to take the stairs.
But there’s a catch: Hingson is blind.
Blind, but not alone; he had Roselle, his guide dog. Thunder Dog is Hingson’s memoir of escaping Ground Zero with his faithful guide dog, Roselle, who led him to safety, down the stairs and out of the tower, all on one simple command: “Forward.”
Michael Hingson writes in a way that makes his book less about his experience of the event and more about the greater picture. His voice is strong and carries his narrative fluidly from present account of the attack back to lessons learned in childhood — lessons that always relate and come back to his escape from the World Trade Center. Hingson is a firm believer that nothing is a disability unless you make it so.
Thunder Dog isn’t about his escape but rather about the trust and courage in not only everyday life, but also in life-threatening events. Roselle and Hingson form a pair that relies on their bond of trust to escape Tower One, and the aftermath of the collapse of Tower Two. This bond of trust is one that Hingson stresses is every day, not just extraordinary situations; a bond that can be formed between anyone, not just between blind man and guide dog.
He wrote, “The best way we can honor those we lost in … September 11 is by moving forward and building a better society through trust and teamwork.”
Thunder Dog is one of those books that will make you laugh, share and cry. Hingson truly has a way with words and his voice pulls you through the entire event, allowing you to feel the events of a day the way only a New Yorker could. Thunder Dog is about turning a nightmare into a happy ending. It’s about not letting a disability make you disabled. If you learn to trust and have courage, and anything is possible.
“Out of the ashes and rubble of 9/11, we can create building blocks for the future. Don’t let your sight get in the way of your vision … Let’s shake off the dust and move on. Forward.”