Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Ago Today

I was only two weeks into my teaching career, when my principal pulled me and my colleague outside of our classrooms to tell us the horrible event that happened in New York earlier that morning...

9/11/01. A day that will live in infamy.

I honestly don't know how I got through the rest of the day. Much of my family lives in the Long Island-NYC Borough-Westchester County area, and I was worried about their safety. I also have some college friends who live in that area, and I was just as worried about them.

I remember driving back home to my apartment in New London, and there was hardly anyone on the road. I unlocked the door and immediately turned on the TV. Every single station had either suspended their broadcasting or was offering wall-to-wall coverage of the event. I had heard that the Twin Towers had collapsed after the planes had crashed into them, and I had to see the footage for myself. I really didn't want to, I was terrified to, but knew that I had to.

It was surreal. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The throngs of people racing across the Queensborough Bridge, running from the debris of the Twin Towers' collapse, people actually jumping from the top floors of the Twin Towers. So many emotions were pumping through my veins, too many to describe here.

I called every single member of my family, and reached as many friends as I could. Fortunately, everyone was accounted for.

Seven months after September 11th, a friend and I took the train down to New York and got tickets to see Ground Zero. You know the phrase "Silence is deafening?" You never heard so many people be silent in your entire life. My friend and I hardly spoke to each other on the train ride home.

One woman, who was visiting from Kansas, asked me how tall the Twin Towers were. At that very moment, a plane flew right above where they stood. It was eerie.

My parents had to drive down to Long Island the weekend after 9/11. As they were crossing the Throgs Neck Bridge, my mother looked at Manhattan, and saw the trails of smoke stream up from near Battery Park, where the Twin Towers once stood. My mother, who never cries, started weeping.

Whenever we drove down to visit family in New Jersey, we'd take the Turnpike, and my sister and I would gaze in awe at the Manhattan skyline--a skyline that still makes me a little sad every time I look at it. I'll always know that something's missing, and it's not just two skyscrapers--it's the lives of those innocent souls who went to work that Tuesday morning, not even thinking that it would possibly be their last day.

A week after 9/11, I found a photo of myself on the Ellis Island Ferry, posing with the skyline in the background. I put it up on the wall right next to my phone.

With all of this talk about "The War on Terror," there's a word that we're all misusing.


You want to fight for something? Use violence! You want to defend yourself? Use your fists! That's the message we're sending to our future generations!

Is THAT the message you want to send to your children? Your grandchildren? The future human race?

Whatever happened to peace?

Don't mean to sound naive here, but it's something to think about.

1 comment:

Gloria Chadwick said...

9-11 affected all of us very deeply. I still cry as I remember. I love your message of peace. I posted earlier today (before I read your post) on my Zen Coffee blog about peace. Somehow, in some way, we all need to come to peace with the events of this day, and to live in peace. I think, in that way, we truly honor those who died in such a terrible act of war.