If any of you are familiar with my work here on Blogcritics or any of the other online journalism sites I write for, you would know that I am never really short for words; however, it has taken me quite some time to consider what I will say on the subject of 9-11: so many others have put forth opinions and have made comments.
I was born and raised in New York; now living in California, I often miss my home state, and I often write as such. I am forwarding to you my thoughts on the historic day as those of a misplaced New Yorker, a man far from home looking in from the outside. On September 11th, 2001, radical extremists with plans of destruction successfully devastated not just a city, but a country, killing thousands and changing the lives of millions of people, forever. In less than one day, the hopes and dreams of some were forever silenced, others have scars that will never heal, and some will never trust again.
On September 11th, 2001, I was at work for a software company in California, answering phones and helping our clients with their software and technical issues; it seemed like any other day that has been the dull and dreary height of my career at this particular company. A coworker in the cube next to me was discussing their clients issue when they turned to me and said “Hey, I just heard an explosion, my phone dropped out.” I thouht he must have hear something or maybe it was the sound of traffic, maybe a truck backfire. Within moments the supervisors came around and told everyone to assemble in the break room for an announcement. Our managers and supervisors looked frazzled and unprepared to speak to us, the top manager came into the room, teary eyed and shaking, he took a moment to compose himself and told us the grim news, “A plane has struck one of the towers at the World Trade Center, and it appears as if a second plane has just struck the second tower. We are no longer answering phones, if you have family or loved ones in New York, you may time this time to contact them. We will let you know if we will recommence our normal work agenda.”
I went back to my desk and contacted everyone I knew that lived close to the towers, friends and family. I even called those nowhere near the towers; I felt the need to know everything, but being in California, I also felt helpless and unable to do anything. I went online to seek out news and find some answers. Watching the news unfold, I was glued to the seat, and then the towers started to fall, it was like a surrealistic horror movie, I watched as a part of my childhood home fell apart. As I saw news about the other flights and found out about the terrorist plot, confusion and sorrow gave way anger and rage, and then nothing, just an empty feeling, a void had appeared where my mind was.
In the weeks to follow, every reporter and news pundit speculated on the reasons and the causes, the universal effects and every point within and in between; few seemed to be making much of any sense at all. I do not intend to cover all these points, after all, this is an opinion piece, and it is my opinion. Looking at this as a man far from home, and seeing his home ravaged and burned, I tried to look at the “what is” rather than the “what was.” While so many have contemplated the destruction and devastation, too few saw the mass mobilization, the hundreds of volunteers that came to the rescue, the support and unification of the people of New York that worked together through the trying time of putting things back into some kind of order. New York has been considered a cold and stone souled metropolis; however, on that day it ran hot with the blood and warmth of brotherhood. New York on that day was struck hard by the hand of evil, and it shook it off and said “Bring it”, as only New York can.
In the years that followed that tragic day, New York has had to deal with a number of man-made, economic and natural disasters–such as the recent earthquake and a Hurricane that flooded many areas of the east coast. Watching these trials unfold on the news, I saw that my hometown compatriots just dig in and brace for it, and when it was all over, it was just another day to them. The spirit of a city, a state or even a country, is ignited by the spark of the individual spirit of survival, the singular man or woman that looks into the eye of the storm and fights back.
The tragedy of 9-11 has made all of us different though, some of us are, like myself, still wondering why, what did we do, what was the reason? Some have become reclusive, flinching and ducking for cover whenever they hear a plane fly overhead, or sound like it is flying too low. While other New Yorkers have gone on the defensive, watching everyone that seems different or speak with a different accent, which in NY is everyone.
I know I may be sounding like a prattling codger, reminiscing about a mythical city of heroes and brotherhood, but the truth of it is, I am still, when it comes to this subject, trying to make sense of a senseless act of violence that killed too many innocent people and has been killing people every day since it happened, if you think about the military conflicts that we have been involved in. What is the price of peace, the cost of a human life, the value of spilled blood?
On September 11th, 2011 the 10th anniversary of that tragic day, we look forward to the new tower being built, a monumental spire of glass and technology that is physical proof of the resilience of New York, and the Fountains being built in the footprints of the twins that were lost that day. Without them, the New York skyline is all so very different, and somehow not as majestic.
In the memory of what was New York, I would ask that you not think of what was lost, but what was found, the sense of unity and the loyalty of a people that were struck unaware, but stood their ground, fighting an unseen enemy, and winning against all odds. Go on the town, see a movie, a play, go out to dinner with friends, talk about the good times and remember the ones we’ve lost by doing the things they loved, live our lives with them still in our hear.