It is more than I can wrap my mind around, that 10 years ago today the World Trade Center in New York City was hit by planes hijacked by terrorists. I always go back to my 14 year old mind, sitting in Freshman History class learning about Taoism when our principal came over the loud speaker to address the school and let us know what had happened.
I remember what a gorgeous day it was. Perfect weather. I remember thinking to myself, “how is it possible that on such a beautiful day, such a horrible thing could happen?” I remember watching the TVs that the school set up, and seeing over and over again the same pictures. At 14, it was more than I should have been allowed to see, but I’m glad no one stopped me from seeing it.
I remember watching in horror as people jumped from the windows of the World Trade Center. I remember watching the crowds of people running and screaming in the streets. I remember watching the countless heros – firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and random people on the street – running into the buildings to help, knowing they probably would never come out alive.
Most of all, I remember crying. I remember crying for the families of those in the Towers. I remember crying for the families of those on the planes, and in the Pentagon. I remember crying for the heros who had lost their lives, and the ones who had lost their brothers.
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, a strange thing happened that I had never witnessed in my short 14 years. There was an immense sense of pride in the United States of America. There were flags everywhere. In windows, on bridges, on cars, on buildings. People had gone from being indifferent about America, to having a fierce love for our country. People would stop to thank a firefighter, or police officer on the street – just for doing what they did everyday. People would stop to thank anyone in our Armed Forces, as they should have been doing all those years before. The horror of the attacks on September 11th reminded us of what our country stood for.
So here we are, 10 years later. I still have a hard time wrapping my 24 year old mind around what happened. I still cry for the families, and those who lost their lives or loved ones. Even as I write this, I am having a hard time holding back my tears.
I find myself frequently looking at pictures of 9/11. Being someone who loves photography, I find it easier to think about the events in still pictures. It gives me more time to process what I am seeing. I’ve seen photos of the smoke rising from the skyline, with a beautiful sunset in the background. I’ve seen photos of a firefighter with a mask on, holding his helmet and crying. I’ve seen photos of the dust and the destruction. I have seen photos of the memorials to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends who will never return home.
I have also seen photos of the American flag unfurled at the Pentagon. I have seen photos of the Tribute in Light. I have seen what I consider to be one of the most beautiful photos ever taken:
While out walking with The New Yorker yesterday, we found a small tribute in Boston. While it is by no means the largest, most grand memorial, I personally found it to be quite beautiful, and very touching.
On this 10 year anniversary of September 11th, make sure you take the time to stop and reflect, and to remember that day. Remember those who lost their lives, and those who are still fighting for our country’s freedom. And most of all, never forget.
This is a day when all Americans from every
walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and
peace. America has stood down enemies
before, and we will do so this time. None of us
will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to
defend freedom and all that is good and just in
our world. Thank you. Good night, and God
President George W. Bush
September 11, 2001