Friday, 16 September 2011 00:00
The Westbury Memorial Public Library will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with a special and timely book discussion and signing.
On Wednesday, Sept. 21, the library will welcome Michael Hingson, a World Trade Center survivor and author of Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero.
Like its subtitle suggests, Hingson’s book is the story of how blindness and a bond between dog and man saved lives and brought hope during one of America’s darkest days. In Thunder Dog, Hingson, who has been blind since infancy, provides a firsthand account of that tragic Tuesday morning coinciding with a backstory into his personal life and how he never let his lack of sight stop him from achieving his goals.
“We often make disabilities where they don’t really exist,” said Hingson. “Our ‘handicap’ is not so much the physical difference, but rather it is the perceived differences others put in our way.”
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2011 Hingson and his guide dog Roselle had just arrived for work on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the building. With the help of Roselle, Hingson made the hour-long journey down 1,463 stairs to safety just moments before the South Tower collapsed.
Immediately following the terrorist attacks, Hingson and Roselle were thrust into the international spotlight, becoming well-known representatives of the strength of the human/animal bond and a living example of the powerful partnership that exists between a blind person and their guide dog.
In 2002, Hingson and his wife Karen relocated to California where he joined the San Rafael-based Guide Dogs for the Blind team as the National Public Affairs director, sharing his 9/11 story throughout the world on behalf of the school Roselle was from. Six years later he left Guide Dogs to form The Michael Hingson Group, traveling the world and broadening his speaking career as well as serving as a consultant for corporations and organizations in need of inclusive and diversity training.
“The events of Sept. 11 changed the world and they certainly changed my life,” Hingson states on his website (www.MichaelHingson.com). “There’s something about almost losing your life that makes what really matters in life crystal clear. I left my successful 27-year career … to travel the world speaking about the importance of teamwork and trust in our professional and personal lives … There are positive lessons to be learned from every tragedy, and 9/11 is certainly no exception.”
Hingson is a former member of the California State Guide Dog Board and presently serves as secretary to the Marin County Senior Coordinating Council and is a member of the board of directors of the Colorado Center for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind of California. In November 2008, he was appointed a National Ambassador for the Braille Literacy Campaign of the National Federation of the Blind. Additionally, he is a lifetime member of the Physics Honor Society Sigma Pi Sigma.
In March 2007 Roselle retired after nearly 12 years of dedicated service and sadly she passed away in June 2011. Hingson and his wife Karen currently reside in Northern California with guide dog Africa, Africa’s mother and a 17-year old cat.
Michael Hingson and Africa will be on hand at the Westbury Memorial Public Library on Wednesday. Sept. 21. A discussion of Thunder Dog will be held at 7 p.m. followed by a book signing.
“There were so many moments of heroism related to the 9/11 tragedy,” said Westbury Memorial Public Library Director Cathleen Towey. “This is a wonderful story of two heroes, a man who is blind but has never let his blindness limit his life and his dog, who saved his master’s life on 9/11. We are thrilled to have him visit the Westbury Library and hear his extraordinary story.”
For information on the Sept. 21 book discussion and signing and other events and programs offered at the Westbury Memorial Public Library, visit www.WestburyLibrary.org or call 333-0176.