Can we ever forget September 11, 2001? I was living in Texas at the time, and I was getting ready to go to work. I had the TV on, and I saw a plane crash into one of the twin towers in the World Trade Center in New York City. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; how could this happen? Immediately I realized that everyone on that plane had died. Then I realized that the people who worked in the twin towers were dead or dying.
I could not get it into my head that this had happened. I sat down and watched as people in the remains of the towers tried to jump to save themselves. Innocent people were dead and dying, and then I heard that the Pentagon was attacked as well. Listening to the news, I kept saying to myself, ‘this can’t be happening.’ When I found out that Osama bin Laden was behind this horrific attack I remember feeling more hatred in my heart than I thought was possible.
I got myself together and drove to work. The first person I saw was Adnan, who came from Saudi Arabia. I felt immediate hatred toward him, even though my mind was telling me that he was not part of this horror; yet, I wanted to punch and kick him for being who he was. I’m not proud of that. To this day I am not proud of that.
I don’t remember much of that day, but there was a TV on all day at work, and we all watched. When I left work, I went straight to where crowds of people were lined up to give blood to help the survivors of the disaster. Most of us cried as we waited. Some of us swore that they hoped that Saudi Arabia and all its people in it would die. I still bear the shame of that statement.
There were so many people who died on that day, including responders, fire fighters, police, and more. There were also stories of real courage on that awful day; some people who tried to save others, and in so doing, lost their own lives.
Each September 11 I grieve for those lost. September 11 for my generation was our Pearl Harbor. We felt the same shock and sadness that shook our nation during the attack on Pearl Harbor. It changed us all forever. We knew that we were not safe any longer, that anything like this could happen again. We lost our innocense that day. We no longer felt safe. If this horror could happen in our country, it could happen again.
And yet, while we lived through the knowledge that our enemies planned this horrible event, we learned that nothing and no one is ever really safe. We learned to be wary, we learned to be careful of where to keep our trust, we learned that anything can happen at any time. In my case, I feared the worst every day after September 11. I previously had loved flying, yet after this I swore I would never set foot on an airplane again. What I couldn’t get out of my mind was knowing that those innocent people on the plane, headed for the twin towers, were doomed. Imagine how it would be to suddenly know that you are going to die and there is nothing that you can do about it.
I didn’t fly again until this year when I went to Hawaii. I was fearful at first, and then I realized that worrying wasn’t helping me. I decided to act “as if.” That means that I decided that I was not going to die in a plane crash. As I began to relax, I remembered how I had once loved flying. I found that I loved it all over again.
The United States of Amercia is a nation like none other. We have come through the horrors of that day, and we will never be the same. Even though Osama bin Laden is dead, there are always people who hate us for who we are. Life has changed forever since September 11, 2001. We lost our innocense and faith for a time, and we can never forget those lives lost. However, we can’t let hatred and bitterness and sorrow make us monsters. The real monsters are out there, and we cannot join them.
But we can do all we can to be aware, to be present, to be our best selves and to go on. Living our lives is a tribute and honor to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2011. That day is now part of our history. The best we can do to honor those lost is to live our lives in the best way we can. We can’t let anger, fear and sorrow dictate who we are.
World War I and II, Pearl Harbor, September 11, 2001 and more will always be in our history and our hearts. While we mourn the loss of lives today, let us remember to be vigilant, aware and to cherish each breath, and each person we love. Let us honor those who died on this day eight years ago by living well, doing good things, cherishing our loved ones and never forgetting those lost.