Today’s blog post is in memory of all those lost. I wrote this a few years ago for a friend who taught a high school English class. It was a personal account text.
I want to preface this by saying that I was not in the city on the day of this tragedy. I do not know anyone personally who was lost in the towers. I have heard many stories from family and friends about their experiences. My account is one from the outer boroughs and of a New Yorker who will forever remember and will feel that sense of loss. The true heroes of that day were the FDNY, the NYPD, the Port Authority Police, and the brave souls who saved countless lives.
I remember the night before (September 10th) I had gone out with a few friends. Being a college student, going out was a way of life. I had a 9:25 class that next morning and getting in late that night did not help the matter. I had gotten up at around 8:55 on September 11th and figured I was either going to be late or I would just cut class. I took a shower, looked at the clock and figured I would chance it. I turned on the TV to watch the news as I got ready. On the screen was a burning building and I thought to myself,” What cheesy movie is this?”. I changed the station and the same image was there. After changing to the third station, it seemed like something had happened. As I listened to the news report, the second plane hit into the second tower. I was speechless.
Moments later, they cut in saying that a plane had crashed at the Pentagon and then in Pennsylvania. I remember looking up at the ceiling of my room and wondering when was the next one going to happen and who was doing this? I had never felt fear like that before. Phone lines were jammed, so it took awhile to get in touch with anyone. My cousin was a sophomore at NYU and his dorm was a few blocks away from Ground Zero. I can still hear my grandmother screaming upstairs saying he was alright. He was walking across the 59th street bridge, where my uncle would pick him up.
All day, people were walking around dazed and unsure of what to expect next. One memory that will always stay with me is one of a neighbor. We were all out on our porches, stunned and talking about the day’s events. A woman down the block from me had been worried all day because her husband had been in the South Tower doing construction. She had heard from him when the plane hit, but had heard nothing since. Suddenly, there was a scream and we all turned. Her husband was walking down the block and they just hugged. We were all quiet and then someone started clapping and that sound reverberated throughout the street for a few moments.
I went to Saint John’s University. When classes resumed, I remembered going into the room and was stunned for a moment. From the windows you could see the still smoldering Ground Zero. It was a humbling experience and that first class was one of silence and discussion.
Ten years (it is now 13 years) have come and gone since those moments. It still seems like yesterday. The pain never really goes away. I mourn the loss of those souls. I know this was a national tragedy. However, being a New Yorker, there is a scar that will never be healed. There is a hole in our skyline. It will always be there. However, those people that are now heroes did something that day that will never be forgotten. Their memory lives on in those smiles that we give each other every day. If anything was learned from this tragedy it is that of acceptance. We are all different. If we were all the same it would be rather boring. Think twice before you say something negative to someone. You never know how it will affect them or if it will be the last thing you ever say to them.
Please never forget….