All Americans remember where they were September 11, 2001.
I was in my Jersey City, New Jersey apartment, situated directly across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center. It was about a two mile distance and I always said I had a view to die for.
I was always aware of the luxury of living in the US. I always thought about how lucky we were not to share borders with anyone but Canada and Mexico (no worries there). We were nothing like all the European countries and African nations. We were safe; we would always be safe. We were blessed by geography and we were the world’s only super power.
Today, for the first time, I have viewed live news footage of that day’s events as it unfolded. I am watching it now as I write this. I have been unable to view this footage all these many years. I didn’t want to and I didn’t need to. I had a riverfront view and I still can’t believe what I saw. To the west passenger planes were landing in rapid succession at nearby Newark Airport. One after another, one after another.
To the east two smoking towers were every so slightly wavering in the sky, soon to be no more.
I ran down the 25 flights from my apartment and stood in shocked disbelief with my neighbors and construction workers who were working on the new building being added to our waterfront paradise. Not all of my neighbors were there, as the community was home to a large number of people that worked at one of the seven buildings that comprised the World Trade Center.
The dusty debris carried across the Hudson and landed on our shoulders, burned our eyes.
I remained outside in a daze until I returned to my apartment at 4:30am the following morning. I was too afraid to go upstairs. I didn’t want to be on the 25th floor of any building ever again. But I was emotionally drained and decided that if my building were attacked, I wanted to be asleep when it happened.
For weeks after, the smoke continued seeping up from where the towers once stood.
Six months later, I moved to Los Angeles. My previous longing for a change, year-round sunshine, and relief from the rat race had turned into a desperate need to escape, as if my life depended on it… and it did. I had just witnessed my generation’s Pearl Harbor.
It is now ten years since that day and it seems to have all happened yesterday. The knowledge that anything can happen anywhere has pushed me to do the things I want to do. I have become, to a degree, fearless in my pursuit of a joyful life. Unwavering in my belief of a higher and greater power.
I say a prayer for those directly affected by the events of that day knowing that we were all affected.