This week is a really important week of US history remembrance. Fifteen years ago, our country was shaken. New York City was targeted leaving every single American glued to the television or hearing a busy signal on the phone.
This year in April during my trip to the east coast I was fortunate enough to steal my mom and dad all to myself for a day and we ventured into the city. My whole life I have grown up just outside Manhattan. It’s always been within reach for me. Over the years we’ve taken day trips for broadway musicals or just to visit the city at Christmastime. I even have a picture of myself that my mom took on a Girl Scouts trip of me with the NYC skyline behind me in the distance. The Twin Towers were right next to me in the photo as if I could’ve put my arm around them like a friend. Revisiting that photo with my mom recently, she reminded me that was taken one year before 9/11.
During our time in the city we decided to go to the new One World Trade Center…something I had yet to do since September, 11th 2001. Let me take you back to that day from my perspective fifteen years ago. I was in the fifth grade. Pretty early on in the day, before lunch and strenuous academic enthusiasm from my fellow classmates and I, the teachers started to panic. They were calm on the exterior, but there was a presence about them that even a ten year old could tell was off. Kids started getting pulled out of school. I saw glimpses of terrified and tearful faculty in the halls, but no one would tell us what was going on. We got dismissed early that day. As the day went on and the news played on loops from the living room - I still didn’t quite grasp the gravity of what just happened to our country. I just didn’t understand that something of that magnitude could be an intentional act onto society.
After that day, I don’t think I ever really let what happened sink in on a mature level until I visited Ground Zero and walked the museum. I looked at thousands of names that were lost from that day, listened to voices from phone calls on the planes and in the buildings, re-watched the news reels, stood next to the fire engines that were crushed from the falling debris and gazed up at the original foundation of the World Trade Center. As we were walking through the museum my parents and I found ticket stubs to the Yankee game that we were in the city for just two days before the tragic events of 9/11. My dad said he remembers driving over the George Washington bridge after that game and looking down south and saying, "what a beautiful skyline." Just two days before.
Revisiting all of this after fifteen years hit me hard. I walked through the museum feeling the terror that my teachers and all the adults around me went through on that day fifteen years ago. I can’t say that I re-lived it, because I will never truly know what that was like, but my eyes were reopened to what we went through as a country. In the midst of, what more often than not, seems like a torn society still dealing with racism, terrorism, discrimination…when I looked back, I saw incredible bravery and one of the most diverse cities unite as one. There is a sadness that creeps in, still fifteen years later and probably forever, but when I remember the events of that day It also makes me proud to live among such a strong and resilient society.
What do you remember from that day fifteen years ago? I would love to hear your story on such a pivotal day in US history.