Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 and Me

With the exception of 9 year olds and younger, everyone has a story about September 11th, 2001.

It's the largest single unifying moment of my lifetime. While we all may not have been affected firsthand by the attacks, we, as a people, all have a story to tell about it. I'd like to share mine today.

I was born in New York City. In Manhattan's Beth Israel hospital, to be exact. So was my brother. We lived in New York until 1991. During that time, my mom and her best friend Lori (who has affectionately become known as my "dad," for having been there longer than my real dad or any step-dad has been) would take us to see a signature attraction of the city on an annual basis. We saw The Empire State Building, South Street Seaport, the U.S.S. Intrepid, and The Twin Towers. I remember us going to the top of the tower, and it's distinct difference from that of It was completely open, with no immediate fencing, and a view that was farther and wider than anything that I could remember seeing. It was beautiful, and literally awe inspiring.

On September 11th, 2001, I was at school in the morning. I had just finished a math class, when I ran into my friend Patricia. She told me that a plane had accidentally crashed into one of the towers. Like many, I thought that it was just a horrific accident, and wondered how a pilot could crash into a building that size. I left the school, and got home just in time to watch the 2nd plane hit the remaining tower with my brother, live on television. My thoughts immediately went to the safety of my mother (she was at work, down here in Fort Lauderdale) and my family up in New York.

Luckily, no one was hurt, although I came to find out that my aunt Carmen was almost a vicitm of the attacks that day. She worked at on the 90 somethingth floor of one of the towers, but, because she was running late that day, got off the subway in time to see the first plane hit the building. Her husband (my mom's brother) ran to her from his office, which was 6 blocks away, with two slipped discs. He arrived just in time to see the 2nd tower being struck. A lot of my family had to walk back from Manhattan to their homes in Queens and Brooklyn that day. Thankfully, they were all safe.

Like many others, my story revolves around the World Trade Center. But there were others that day that died in Virginia and Pennsylvania. I know a lot of people are posting that they will "never forget" what happened that day, but I don't think it's just about that. Yes, never forgetting is important, but always remembering, and passing on your story to your friends, family, and future generations, is the best way to honor those who died. Tell your story, so those who didn't experience it can have some sort of idea of what happened. My mom said to me that it felt similar to when President Kennedy was assassinated. I have an idea of how that feels, because of what happened 10 years ago today.

...10 years. That's incredible to me. So much has changed over the past decade, both personally, and in the world we live in. It's absolutely astonishing.

But on this day, every year, this day is a day where we can all remember that unifying feeling, of when we cared for and helped each other, through a tragedy that was, until that day, unimaginable. This day should be a day when we remember that there are still those around us that could use our help, and that we should offer it, out of caring and respect for each other.

And it is a day where we can all share our stories with one another.

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