Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11: Eleven Years Later

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to find the above picture of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. This was taken around 1990, aboard the Statue of Liberty ferry, as it traveled between Liberty Island and Liberty State Park in New Jersey. For years, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stood overlooking the New York Harbor since 1973; examples of American ingenuity and success. By 2001, they were gone.

I had written a little about events in my life leading up to the day last year, for the 10th Anniversary. I'm going to recall that day. By the time September 2001 had arrived, I was one month into my first job out of college. That morning started out slow, as the night before, I was out with friends watching the Giants lose to the Denver Broncos. There was a late morning breakfast meeting I had scheduled in Jersey City with a potential client, so I tried to get an early start to avoid the traffic. As I was driving north, I heard reports of a plane crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center and I had to question why, considering it was a very clear day and for a plane to hit that tower, something had to be wrong. Terrorism didn't cross my mind at that point. As I continued North on the New Jersey Turnpike and the New York City Skyline was coming into view, I saw the plume of smoke coming from the tower. The amount of smoke the crash was producing made me believe the news reports of a small jet were wrong - it had to be a commercial airliner. With the city skyline in full view, about 9AM, I saw the second plane plow into the South Tower. I saw the fireball emanating from the building and like many Americans, I became both scared and angry at the same time, thinking to myself, "America is under attack." The breakfast meeting was mutually postponed and I drove to the office; radio tuned into 770 as I turned west - listening to the events break out: the collapse of the South and North Tower, the attack at the Pentagon and United 93. After a few more hours in the office, I ended up going home and spending the rest of the day with my family, watching the events unfold on television. That day, I said to myself, my family and my friends, that America will never be the same.

That day was eleven years ago and that prediction proved to be correct. Al Qaeda had succeeded in killing nearly 3000 people in their mission to commit the largest attack in history on American soil; destroying the World Trade Center, attacking the Pentagon and had those brave souls aboard United 93 not stepped up, the US Capitol would have also been destroyed. America was not protected by oceans anymore and Americans had to take additional precautions; whether in tourist spots, in airports and during financial/business transactions. The US military began a mission to eradicate Al Qaeda and stop attacks abroad before they could come ashore.

Eleven years later, we see rebuilding, we see the opening of memorials in New York, Washington and Shanksville, we see America trying her hardest to move on, but the pain and emotions from our losses are ever present. It is why this day should always be a day of remembrance and reflection. We cannot run from it - September 11 is part of our history; the day America changed forever, the day America showed she was not the perceived paper tiger and I believe, one day, it will be written as the day Generation X stood up to take on the responsibility of leading the country, while at the same time, protecting and defending the American way of life so that the country can go on and subsequent generations can experience the same freedoms and benefits that those before them experienced, being citizens of the greatest country God has given man.

May God Forever Bless those who lost their lives on September 11, their families and the military who have moved heaven and earth to make sure that September 11, 2001, will not be repeated on American soil again.

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