I had just driven in from Indiana with my friend on that Saturday. Sunday morning I dropped her off at the airport and returned to another friend’s home where I would stay until I got settled into my new city. The next day, Monday, I drove around in Battery Park looking for housing close to my job – already nervous about starting this new chapter in my life.
Tuesday morning all hell broke loose.
I woke up my friend and we watched in shock and horror as the twin towers burned and then collapsed. After drying our tears we reached our parents and told them we were okay. My mother reminded me – rather forcibly – that I could come home. My mini-suv was still packed with my belongings and for a brief moment I did contemplate getting right back on the highway and getting the hell outta dodge. My new office was six short blocks from ground zero and the thought of being that close to one of the most inhumane disasters to occur on American soil in my lifetime was paralyzing. The wreckage. The smell. Would New York always be a target? Could something equally horrifying happen again anytime soon? Indiana may be a lot of things but worthy of being a terrorist target it is not.
My friend suggested we go to the grocery store and get some supplies and as she went about taking charge and being productive, she helped settle the chaos that was brewing in my mind. So I stayed. And I soon witnessed a New York you don’t hear about as often – people were polite and concerned. Total strangers making eye contact and – wait for it – smiling. And then there was the New York that I know and love so well – defiant, steadfast, daring a mofo terrorist to try that ish again. A New York sorrowful and shaken by so many dead but proud of the heroes who rushed into that inferno knowing…
I wasn’t planning to do anything special to commemorate 9-11 this year. Perhaps a cursory status update on facebook but that would have been the extent of it. But then I saw a few headlines and a few photos online and I thought about how contentious this presidential election has become, how belittling and horrible we can be to each other on social media sites, on the airwaves, in schools and in work environments and I thought in an ideal environment we would be more willing to put our oftentimes minor differences aside and remember that we are all in this together. We are all Americans. The terrorists didn’t single out Republicans or Democrats, Blacks or Whites, Gays or Straights, the young or the old. They were aiming for AMERICANS.
“On the morning of September 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda-affiliated hijackers flew two Boeing 767 jets into the complex, one into each tower, in a coordinated terrorist attack. After burning for 56 minutes, the South Tower collapsed, followed a half-hour later by the North Tower, with the attacks on the World Trade Center resulting in 2,753 deaths.”