I remember exactly where I was when the first plane hit the first Tower, then the second, and then the Pentagon, and then the crashing plane in PA. I think everyone who heard about it but wasn't next to it, and perhaps those who were, felt like they were in a dream like state...it simply couldn't be real.
These attacks, changed how we live - we're now willing, without question, have our bags searched when riding the subway; we gladly give up the right to carry certain items onto plane flights and
we come together to watch and help each other when danger could be close because we understand that we are all potential victims of catastrophe. And we do this all this without question, because the aftermath of 9/11 made us know our own vulnerability and appreciate our strength in ways we never had to before.
But it also changed our psych as a people by created a prescient for this kind of tragic human experience in our own back yard. Our children will not grow up in a world that doesn't know a time when the reference "Ground Zero" had nothing to do with the World Trade Centers. They will not know a world without these images. And youths in cities will never know a life without the expectation that it's part of being in the human community to tell someone if you see a suspicious package in order to keep others safe. Or that to have someone search our bags for possible explosives or weapons was once considered a violation of privacy. Or a world where we were the country who's national soil was free from great civilian losses due to international terrorism. For them, living with this is part of life as it's always been. But for those of us who lived through it, it was the end of the world.
After September 11, 2001, I reconnected with people in my life that I'd forgone communication with for one reason or another. I don't think I was alone in feeling that now was the time to honor those throughout my life who had been important to me, no matter what had transpired to separate us. It was a time of feeling helpless, where I would spend my days at the Red Cross, volunteering my time just to feel some sense of usefulness in the healing of a nation. And a time to reevaluate how we treat those we love and those we disagree with.
In New York today we remember the what happened in our City. The 9-11 Lights shine brightly into the night where the World Trade Towers once stood, honoring the victims and all of us who were changed by this. It's a day to acknowledge our heroes; both those who, for no other reason than it was their job, lost their lives walking up hundreds of flights of stairs in an attempt to get to those who were trapped; and those civilians who volunteered for the days and weeks that followed, to go through the rubble of ground zero to see if there were any survivors trapped below.
And today I honor all, around the nation and around the world, that did what they could and do what they can to continue to inspire us all to come together united in our strength as people who value life and freedom.