On September 11, 2001, John Grant, JD, Professor, Justice Studies, Berkeley College School of Professional Studies, said he woke up and started getting ready for work, just like any other day. At the time, Grant was a faculty member at another college in Manhattan, NY. After a friend called and told him about one, then two planes crashing into the Twin Towers, Grant immediately sprang into action.
“In short order, I decided that I would be going to my armory this day and not to work,” said Grant, who was Commander, 9th Regiment, New York Army Guard, and held the rank of Major at the time. “I figured I would pack a bag, I might not be home for a few days. It ended up being 90 days, but who would have known?”
Grant set off from his home in Staten Island for the 69th Regiment Armory, located at 68 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. He entered lower Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry.
Grant recalls crowds making their way in the opposite direction, escaping the chaos, while he headed directly toward it. “On arrival to the ferry terminal, I could see there was panic in the air. People wanted to get home and away from the horror they witnessed,” he said.
Once he got to Manhattan, public transportation options were limited, so Grant began to walk the more than 3 miles to his destination before he was finally offered a ride by a fellow soldier. He spent the next few months on duty, coordinating family assistance, recovery and security efforts in New York City and State. The 69th Regiment Armory became a hub for those looking for missing loved ones and Grant’s unit undertook the overwhelming task of collecting DNA samples from family members to help identify those who had perished. Grant also worked with military police, local police forces and federal agencies to ensure national security during a time when there were still many unanswered questions.
With the leadership he displayed during the period following the 9/11 attacks, Grant was promoted from Major to Lieutenant Colonel in December 2001, a rank he held until his retirement from the New York Army Guard in 2020.
Click here to read Grant’s story, “September 11, 2001: What I Experienced.”
Berkeley College Commemorates the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
On Thursday, September 9, 2021, Grant was featured on a Berkeley College panel discussion to honor the victims, survivors and heroes of 9/11. The webinar, titled “20 Years Later: Stories and Discussions of the Day that Changed America,” also featured Robert Maguire, Berkeley College Assistant Vice President, Public Safety and Emergency Management; Geralyn Cappelli, Professor, Management, Berkeley College Larry L. Luing School of Business?; and Katherine Pereira, Regional Camp Manager, Comfort Zone Camp, who each shared their personal 9/11 stories.
Cappelli, who witnessed the attacks from the nearby investment banking firm she was employed with at the time, helped evacuate employees from her office building. “I thought, ‘This is bigger than me, bigger than all of us.’ It was frightening,” she said while describing her experiences.
“Even though we thought we were ready for this, the events of that day showed that we weren’t,” said Grant, who shared his military operations perspective on the panel. “All of these things, ‘What do we do,’ ‘How did this happen,’ just came to us.”
Despite the uncertainties of the time, Grant noted that the “outpouring of support from the American people” stood out to him, solidifying the meaningfulness of his work, even two decades later.
Berkeley College celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2021. The theme commemorating this milestone is “Empowering Lives for 90 Years!” Visit the 90th Anniversary webpage for more information.
About Berkeley College
Berkeley College, founded in 1931, is a career-focused institution accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that offers students Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs in more than 20 career fields. The College also offers continuing education programs to enhance career credentials.
Berkeley College has campuses in Midtown Manhattan, NY, and in Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge, and Woodland Park, NJ, with more than 4,900 students enrolled. In addition, Berkeley College Online? serves a global population. U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, for eight consecutive years. The website address is www.BerkeleyCollege.edu.
The mission of Berkeley College is to empower students to achieve lifelong success in dynamic careers.
Photo Caption: John Grant, JD, Professor, Justice Studies, Berkeley College School of Professional Studies, and retired Lieutenant Colonel, New York Army Guard, pictured here at Ground Zero a few days after September 11, 2001, journeyed through lower Manhattan immediately following the terrorist attacks. Grant then spent the next 90 days coordinating family assistance, recovery and security efforts.