Not many Americans can forget exactly where we were on September 11, 2001. I received a call from a friend who simply said, “turn on your tv.” By the time I did, here on the west coast, the horror had already unfolded and I spent much of the day, zombie-like, in front of my computer, going through the motions of work, while watching the images on the television hour after hour, not believing what I was seeing. After all, I had worked at 160 Broadway and watched the Twin Towers being built from my office window. I sat, stunned, never believing that the Towers would actually fall. But they did.
On this anniversary, thousands of people, more eloquent than I, will report and write about that day. I was lucky not to personally know anyone who died on 9/11 and can provide no words of wisdom, understanding or comfort to those who unimaginably suffered the loss of their husband, wife, child, sister, brother, mother or father. But that does not mean those of us not personally affected remain untouched. As Americans, each of us was affected, if not forever changed, that day.
I’ve flown on over a hundred airplanes since 2001, and I’ve never gotten on one when I didn’t remember those hundreds of people who did exactly what I was doing. Each time I thought, if only for a moment, “will it happen again?”
Ten years later, it’s still unbelievable to think of the thousands of men and women who kissed their loved ones good-bye on that morning, who never returned home from their offices at the WTC or the Pentagon. Or the firefighters, waiting around enjoying a cup of coffee expecting a routine day, but would die in a matter of hours as heroes.
But, it didn’t begin that day. The WTC was bombed in 1993, and although seven people were killed and thousands were injured and NYC was shaken, the WTC remained standing and life went on for most of us unaltered.
But ten years ago, at the end of the day, our lives were altered and things were different.
Since then, thousands of our servicemen and -women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Numerous terrorist plots against the United States have been foiled. Yet, in May 2009, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad killed a U.S.soldier and wounded another at a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas. In November 2009, Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 and injured dozens of others at Fort Hood, Texas. Last year, Faisal Shahzad, failed to detonate a car bomb in Times Square – but the intent and potential to kill was there. And, of course, there was the Christmas Day underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was, fortunately, stopped in mid-air.
Oftentimes, we’re preoccupied by the trivial things in our daily lives, but there are times when I drop my husband off at the ferry and kiss him good-bye, I pause. Just because.
Every time I go through security, I curse the Islamic terrorist bastards who hijacked those planes because, even though I have no doubt they’re all burning in hell, they’re still affecting the way we travel each time we get on a bus, ferry, train, airplane, or cruise ship.
And I know there are still Muslim extremists who would do harm to me, my family and my friends, given the opportunity. It isn’t over.
As I said before, I have no pearls of wisdom or words of consolation to impart today. I can only continue to pray for the souls of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and those who subsequently made the ultimate sacrifice fighting the war on terror. I hope that the families that have been left behind have found some peace and look to the good Lord for continued solace in coping with the loss of their loved ones. And, of course, I am forever grateful for the brave men and women in our Armed Forces who continue to keep us safe. May God bless them.