Just about ten or eleven years ago, a friend of mine came to visit from out of town. She was living in California, and really wanted to spend some time in New York City, so we took the train in for the day. Someone in our group suggested visiting the World Trade Center, and I talked her out of it. After the attempt on the towers made in 1993, I always thought of the WTC as a target and associated it with danger. I just knew that someday, something was going to happen, they’d try again. It was a strong gut feeling that I wish was never proven right.
In the weeks before terrorists attacked our country on September 11th, 2001, I was desperately searching for work as a recent college graduate. I was willing to travel far and wide, and even had an interview lined up with a staffing agency in NYC on that dreadful morning. I cancelled the day before, deciding that it would be too much of a hassle to get to the city for a 9am meeting when I lived over two hours away. This interview would have been held in the World Trade Center.
I remember hearing news of the first plane hitting the North tower while I was working as a temp in a medical billing department in Red Bank. I knew it was an act of terrorism. We had no televisions in the office, only radio, so when I was home later that evening, the horror of the day’s events were still unfolding, over and over again, on every single news station. People were seen clinging to the buildings, falling, even jumping from the buildings hand in hand. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare.
I thought also about what the people on board flights 11, 175, 93, and the people at the Pentagon endured and tried to wrap my head around the fact that there are people in this world that so desperately want to spill blood that they’d be willing to die in the process. I never before had considered this as a possibility.
During this time in my life, I had been spending much of my free time in Hoboken, with friends who lived there. We watched the President address the nation in Hobson’s, our favorite bar, whose owner perished in the attacks. One of the most heartbreaking experiences was when a group of us encountered a fireman who was obviously involved in the recovery efforts at Ground Zero. It was awful seeing the dazed look on his face as he dropped his gloves and continued walking. A friend of mine assisted him, I was too emotional to approach.
In the wake of this horribly tragedy, we literally rose from the ashes. People came together in so many ways, felt a renewed sense of patriotism, and prayed. As much as it seems time can heal, with every anniversary our wounds re-open as if it were yesterday. In this way, we honor those who lost their lives that day…we will never forget.
I haven’t looked at any of the footage again on this anniversary. I just can’t relive that nightmare.