What will you tell your children about today? What will you tell your grandchildren about the day New York lost a part of its heart, a part of its soul?
It is my generations' JFK, MLK, an assassination of huge proportion. We lost lives filled with promise, dreams filled with hope. In those moments on that unbelievable (even now) day heroes were born out of necessity, from the sheer desire to live and to preserve the freedoms of their brothers. It was a day of leadership, a day where the strong led the weak as close to home as they could manage, where souls rather than face Hades accepted their fate and took a literal leap of faith to escape. That day, the eastern seaboard experienced an unforeseen loss, for in a matter of minutes that seemed impossible to conceive, in a matter of hours where time seemed to vanish into nothingness, our world changed irrevocably. The visually symbolic, 11 became branded as a number and a form forever a part of our memory banks.
Together as a nation, we wore our grief like black armbands, flags at half-mast; for days and months we recovered from the jarring strike against us on American soil. The Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, lay silent, in mourning.
So many lives, nearly 3000 mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, grandfathers, grandmothers, fiancés, fiancees, friends, lovers, enemies--all of whom we would never wish the worst of, who walked into those towers and never came out. All those people lost. There is no other word to explain it; they are lost, lost from their lives, lost from this world without a trace. 1000+ still yet unidentified even now 11 years later. It is inconceivable to me that there are families out there who have had to move on, to bury an empty box, to deal with the insurmountable grief of never knowing, of having closure.
Tomorrow is Tuesday. This will be the 2nd time since its original occurrence (the previous was on the 5th anniversary in 2007) that the 11th falls on a Tuesday. Eleven years later on 9/11, I pray that there is not any significance for anyone seeking vengeance on this day or any day coming. It will be a regular work day for many, a ghostly work day for others--those who survived and lived; those that took a different turn and ended up somewhere else other than where they should have been. It's those small miracles I revel; for some of my friends are among them--and rather mourn their lives, I can celebrate their life.
I was nowhere near the WTC that day; though I was underground in the mall just days before. And even a few weeks before taking photographs with friends on the photo observatory and its surrounding areas. It was one of my favorite locations in New York City--where you could see the ends of the world, from bridge to ocean, building to tree. I especially enjoyed lying on the marble asphalt just outside the two buildings and staying upward to the sky, the clouds and the sun obscured by the steel gray buildings. There was something mystical about the towers and even now in my minds eye I can see the interior of the observation areas, the displays about the various viewpoints told in 360 degrees. The puffy clouds hanging overhead nearby, almost close enough to touch.
My story, of where I was, is nothing special. It is a series of reactions. An annoyed reaction to my father yelling for me to wake and come quick; a stunned reaction to my relatives in Italy telling me about the towers falling as I watched it live on TV in a 20-second delay; a fast reaction to get as close as I could to help; a helpless reaction when I realized the impossibility of helping anyone other than myself and the people stranded at the subway stop. It is a story of waiting--waiting to hear that anyone and everyone I knew that worked at or near the trade center was safe. It is a story of observation--the silence of the city, where for days there was nary a siren nor a plane in the skies save the Blue Angels and fighter jets surveying our air space; the pent-up racism and rage of long-time neighbors and friends turning on those with Middle Eastern connections; the outpouring of love, the throngs of people who traveled from across the country, from across the world to help us through it all.
Even to this day, I am amazed by the warmth and genuine spirit and concern from the strangers of the world, to those affected and afflicted. It is this miracle that has restored my hope, my belief that love will set us free.