Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Ago: Reflections

Even today, everything about it is haunting—the sights, the stories and the images. There’s no way to describe it and everyone has a different memory of the day. Some were at the sites, many watched the events unfold on the TV, and others could only listen to accounts through others. The world was captivated by the unspeakable horror.

Ten years after they were taken, the pictures of 9/11 bring it back to life in an instant. Seeing the smoke billowing from the North Tower of the World Trade Center can still stun me to silence and throw me back to my desk at Circuit City headquarters where I was when news of the terror attacks first reached me. Like most of the rest of the world, we watched from afar, not knowing if the plane flying into the tower was accidental, but gravely concerned for those people who were in the building.

As the staff listened to the radio and tried to keep up with the news on the internet, the second plane flew into the South Tower. And immediately the world knew it was intentional; it was no accident.

The news continued bringing details of the attacks and my co-workers and I had congregated in one of the rooms with a TV. The room was silent, every one of us rapt to any new information we could glean from the news. We watched in disbelief as the sky surrounding the Twin Towers became darker from what was to be the beginning of the end for the people in those buildings.

As the minutes passed, we learned of the plane crashing into the Pentagon and the hijacked jet that crashed into a field in Shanksville. The destruction was unfathomable. In many ways, it didn’t seem real. Never in my life had there been an event of that magnitude. The loss of life, of security, of innocence—those are things that can never be recovered from that day.

Though I didn’t have loved ones in any of the attack sites, I ached and was heartsick for those who did. I’m sure the rest of the world felt as I did—helpless. All we could do was look on from the safety of our offices and homes and pray for all those involved.

Please, let them be rescued from the rubble, from the crashes. But, somehow, though you didn’t want to think it, you knew, after the towers collapsed that those people would not be found; there would be no rescues. The reality of it took your breath away. Tragic and unfair and unacceptable—it shook me to my core.
That day changed the world, and especially the USA, forever. Our country had been violated in a way most of us had never imagined. But from the destruction, the country, backed by nations from around the world, united in new ways. Beauty from the ashes.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but each pictures from 9/11 speak so many more than that. I will never forget the images of people standing in the middle of the street, staring at the Twin Towers, crying or the ghostly figures emerging from the clouds of dust with fear in their eyes. Nor will I forget the pictures of the many heroes who were born that day.
I wasn’t in NY or DC or PA during the attacks… but I’ve been there ever since.
Always remembered, forever grateful.