Monday, September 14, 2009

Remembering 9/11

Being from Boston, and knowing the planes took off from our very own Logan Airport, I think our city felt a huge responsibility and sadness for the events of 9/11.

I remember being at work, managing a tux shop that over-looked the highway leading too and from Boston, I was only 10 miles away. I saw cars line up like morning rush-hour traffic to evacuate the city.

I was alone and all I had was a radio to listen to what was happening, like War of the Worlds. I was waiting to find out it was yet another Orson Well's type hoax, modernized to the threats of our current time. Not of alien's attacking, of terrorists.

All I wanted was the OK to leave and be with my family. Make sure everyone I knew in Boston was ok and that none of our buildings were next...since they took off from OUR own backyard unnoticed.

Silent assassins self-taught by nothing more than a video game and armed with box cutters held the fate of our Free World in their hands. No longer were we invincible.

All I could hear was the faint static of the radio, playing what was happening over and over, like they were commentating a sports event. Even their voices trembled. The news had never seen the likes of this, not on our soil.

Seeing the images later and seeing everything that had been described was gut-wrenching. Debris made up of steel and papers and people littering the streets of New York. Total strangers clinging to each other as if they were the only friends they had in the world. Ash covering the ground like snow. Not even Hollywood could have dreamt this up.

I remember the footage of the Pentagon...our own military blindsided and defenseless, left me horrified. What was supposed to be our Mecca of Defense had been shattered.

Now, all those years later, I work in a skyscraper. We run evacuation drills and I have recently been added to the Emergency Response Team to help get people out safely should anything like this happen again. And its scary, knowing that the reason we have to be so prepared, is because 8 years earlier, on the very day, the world stopped, and everything changed forever.

8 years later so much has changed. Airport security; Code Red, Orange, Yellow. The Patriot Act, which not only targeted terrorists, but made even the common citizen a suspect for scrutiny. Everything changed, not just the skyline of New York, losing those towers, those people, it was much more than that.

Our country, once segregated by hate and racism saw moments of unity. People from all walks of life were brought together. They may have lost a loved one, may have witnessed first hand the ungodly sight of a plane followed by another striking; and for one instance they had a common bond. Their love of country superseded their personal grievances.

So now, all this time later, when we pause to remember what happened that fateful day, we not only mourn the loss of those in the towers; the loss of those heroic men and women who as everyone was running out, were running back in to save them; we remember for even the briefest of seconds, that we are one nation. That black or white, male or female, Catholic or Muslim, people are people, and that together we form the United States of America.

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