When the planes struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, I was working in my Manhattan apartment filled with bright sunshine streaming through my windows. The silence was broken by my mother’s phone call. She told me to turn on the news because in her words, “Downtown looks like a Bruce Willis movie.”
As I watched my television with horror, I saw the buildings literally crumble as the city went silent.
New York is a city filled with determined people. They’re busy people who are always in a rush to meet life’s challenges. Out-of-towners may mistakenly think New Yorkers are uncaring. But the truth is most New Yorkers believe in leaving others alone to live and let live. When help is needed and it really matters, New Yorkers step up to the plate and act. They’re among the most caring people in the world. They put their personal needs aside and pitch in to do whatever’s needed. On 9-11 and the days that followed, New Yorkers reached out to help where and how they could. It was through their sheer will power that the city refused to give in and eventually came back to life.
While the days that followed now blur in my mind, what I remember most is the stark, numbing silence. For me, the city, where one can never hear one’s own thoughts, was shrouded with deafening quiet. The faces from hastily copied photos and makeshift posters seeking loved ones that appeared everywhere quietly sought information that would never come. Down the block, a memorial appeared for a woman who never returned from work that day.
During the days that followed the destruction, fire stations looked like overstocked green grocers filled with flowers and makeshift shrines that stretched across sidewalks. For those who lost love ones, nothing I can write can fill the void left by the loss of those lives.
Without the shadow of the World Trade Center Towers to blot out the sun, light shines through Ground Zero where they once stood tall. We must use the positive power of this light to give us strength to help others where we can and exercise our ability to speak out against injustice.
This post is dedicated to the men and women who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania. May we always cherish the memory of their lives.
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