Utah's Olympic planners wanted a big stage to unveil the torchbearers for the 2002 Winter Games and could think of no better place to do it than New York City's Battery Park, where Lady Liberty would stand behind them holding the nation's most famous torch. Their plan was to hold the event on Sept. 11, 2001, less than a mile from the World Trade Center.
A budget snafu forced Romney to reschedule his travel plans, saving him from a traumatic and dangerous experience. Instead, he was in Washington, D.C., appearing on a Salt Lake City radio show by phone when the reporter cut him off to announce that a plane had crashed into the twin towers. Romney hung up. He turned on the TV in the office of Cindy Gillespie, the lobbyist for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, and called his wife, Ann. They said little to each other as they watched the buildings burn.
Romney's daze ended when a plane slammed into the Pentagon. Gillespie said if they didn't leave soon, they may get stuck in downtown Washington. They jumped in her BMW convertible and headed toward Virginia, a path that took them past the Pentagon and through a haze of black smoke from the wreckage.