How 9/11 Inspired Public Service as an Urban Planner
Working as an urban planner in a private consulting firm on September 11, 2001, Clement Lau—like many people—felt compelled to serve the country and the public in the wake of the tragic attacks of that day. Now, as planner for Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation for the past 13 years, he reflects on how that tragic day directed his career:
Unfortunately, I lacked the aptitude, skills, and physical fitness/abilities to join the military, police, or fire services. However, I knew that I could still serve in other ways and contribute to the betterment of our communities. I had originally wanted to secure a civilian community planner position with branches/units of the military like the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), but was unsuccessful. Fortunately, the door later opened in 2003 for me to enter the civil service as a planner with the County of Los Angeles. I am pleased and proud to say that I have now been a County planner for over 13 years, and have had many more opportunities to interact with and serve the public than I had as a consultant.
Seeing the devastation and destruction of the Twin Towers and the surrounding structures also impacted my psyche as a planner. I grew up loving big cities, and enjoyed the vibrancy and excitement of being in urban environments. Even though I had not been to Lower Manhattan at that time, I still felt as though my way of life and my love for cities suffered a big blow on that fateful day.
In the source article, he goes on to discuss his visit to New York City and the WTC memorial on the tenth anniversary of attack.