Many articles have been written about 9/11 in the last few days especially running up to its 9th anniversary. It’s definitely a day to remember not only for Americans but for everyone around the world. Lots of my closest friends were working in the area and some even lived a few blocks down from the World Trade Center. I’m sure that in one way or another, we all know someone who was there.
I remember the day clearly like it was yesterday. Living in Thailand, I was no where near the events yet it touched me in so many other ways. I had friends and family who worked there, lived around there, or may have been doing business there. It was an area I’ve been to before and could relate to, watching the view from atop the tower, shopping at the Century 21 store just across the street, or buying broadway show tickets at the ticket counter there.
The World Trade Center was a symbol of modernization. You would see it as part of a skyline and one that you wouldn’t imagine changing in the blink of an eye. Yet it did.
I remember turning on my television screen to watch the evening news. Suddenly on every channel, news switched to the World Trade Center on fire. At first I thought it was part of a movie trailer, but then reality struck and I realized what I saw wasn’t part of a movie. It was real.
The second plane struck the second tower.
I picked up my phone and rang my one and only beloved brother as quickly as I could. He was often in New York and the World Trade Center could be one of the places he’d be. Luckily, he picked up the phone and told me he was safe in Boston. He had been at the WTC just a few weeks earlier. I was relieved.
The first tower collapsed . I was alone in my apartment staring at the television screen with only my pillow to grab while sounds of shock emanated from my mouth.
I called my best friends there and they too were safe. Yet I still worried about everyone else I knew who lived around there.
A few minutes later, the phone lines were all jammed and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone else. I had been lucky to be able to get a hold of those most dear to me.
In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I heard countless stories of how my friends had escaped the collapse of the World Trade Center. Some couldn’t access their apartments and had to find refuge elsewhere. Friends and families all helped one another. It was a time when nothing else but life mattered.
It was a time of sadness yet also one of kindness.
Life was re-prioritized for it reminded us of how fleeting life is. A normal day at work could turn out to be our last. So precious was life.
Nine years on, for the families that loss loved ones, it is still one of sadness. Politics and protests have tried to turn the day into a day of issues, but in the end, the day should be about all those who died on September 11. It includes those of all religions and of all walks of life.
9/11 is a day to remind us all that in the end, no matter what religion you are or what walk of life you are from, we will all die. What matters is how we spent the life while we could and what sort of person we were. It’s not about how rich or powerful you are, but what good you have done with it. For that is what we call humanity.