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From the Archives: Virginia businessman Tim Donner relates ‘eerie’ memory of 9/11 in New York City

Virginia businessman Tim Donner relates ‘eerie’ memory of 9/11 in New York City
September 10, 2012 7:38 PM MST

Like all Americans who were old enough to comprehend what happened on Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, Northern Virginia businessman Tim Donner has vivid memories of that day. His recollection, however, includes what he calls a “chilling coincidence” that borders on the eerie.

Donner is the owner of Horizons Television in Great Falls, Virginia, which specializes in documentary, educational and promotional video production, and founder of One Generation Away, an educational and public policy organization. He was a candidate for the U.S. Senate before withdrawing from the race and endorsing Republican nominee George F. Allen. He also contributes commentary to the online journal of news and opinion, Bearing Drift.

It was his role as a video producer that placed Donner and his wife in Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Remember the Regency

Tim Donner 9/11 Horizons Television One Generation Away
As he related the story to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner in a telephone interview, “[we] were in New York on business that day doing a historical documentary for a longtime client and we were staying at the Regency Hotel.”

The significance of the name of the hotel and “why that fits into the story,” he added parenthetically, would become clear “in just a little bit.”

Continuing, he explained, he and his wife got their “gear together for a video shoot that day and as we head out the door, the doorman at the hotel says a plane just hit the World Trade Center.”

Unperturbed by that news, Donner figured “that perhaps this was a light plane, similar to one that had flown into the White House months before that, so we didn’t make much of it.”

So they went about their business and, once they arrived at their client’s office, he recalled, “we sat there and watched on TV live as the second plane hit the World Trade Center.”

‘Chill up my spine’

At that point, he said, like so many others, “we realized we were under attack and at that moment it struck me -- it struck me hard, it sent a chill up my spine -- that I had been to the Regency Hotel [just] three or four times in my life.”

His first visit to the Regency, he said, was when he was about eight years old: “The first time that I had been there was having lunch with my grandparents on November 22, 1963.”

On that occasion, Donner said, “a waiter came up and told my grandmother, ‘The president has just been shot.’”

Two seminal moments

Tim Donner September 11th JFK assassination
Tim Donner
The spinal chill he felt eleven years ago, he explained, “came from the sudden realization that I was in exactly the same spot on November 22, 1963, when John F. Kennedy was shot and killed, that I was on September 11, when we were attacked in New York and Washington.”

Those dates, he went on, “are the two seminal moments that anybody our age will remember for the rest of their lives. They’ll remember where they were and what they were doing.”

For Donner, “this is a coincidence of incalculable proportions,” he said, “because you couldn’t even set any odds upon being in the same place for both of those events, especially when it was some random hotel that I’d not been to more than three or four times in my life.”

That coincidence, he concluded, “was eerie, to say the least, because the chances of that happening were so astronomical as to be off the charts. The realization of that just makes one wonder about larger metaphysical questions.”

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on September 10, 2012. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

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