September 11, 2001: Eighteen Years Later

I remember exactly what I was doing that day.

I lived in Northern NJ. I just finished breakfast, and turned off the television to go online. Since it was 8:30am, the horrible news hadn’t broken yet.

I was just checking email, readying myself to take the train to South Orange that afternoon to hang out with friends.

About 20 minutes later, the Breaking News clips flashed on my screen: The World Trade Center was under attack.

No. It couldn’t be true.

I quickly flipped on the television, and for the next couple of hours, I was confronted with the sight of the Twin Towers on fire. Falling to the ground.

All I could feel was shock, and horror. Shock, because my uncle and roommate from college were working in Manhattan that morning. Horrified at the carnage unfolding before my eyes.

I decided not to travel to South Orange that evening. This gathering could wait. Being with family could not.

Thankfully, my uncle was safe. He chose to stay at a hotel in Manhattan that night due to impending travel restrictions.
I couldn’t get a hold of my friend until that evening, due to phone lines tied up throughout the day. She made it home to the Bronx that night, but it took the entire day.

While everyone in my family circle was safe, sadly there were many others who could not say the same thing.

A no-fly zone was strictly enforced throughout North America. I remember sitting outside my front porch that night. The silence that greeted me was deafening.

The days and weeks that followed were filled with sorrow. Flyers of the missing were draped throughout Lower Manhattan. Many people clinging to that thread of hope, waiting for a reassuring word that never came.

A week later, I returned to New York City for a class. I remembered the sight of Lower Manhattan still in smoke. The area would continue to smolder for weeks.

The years that followed the attacks were met with the construction of the 9/11 memorial (which opened on 2011), and the fight for 9/11 First Responders receiving the care they desperately needed (which finally received renewal this year).

The one thing that remains constant through time is the Sept. 11 rememberance on television. It’s a somber event, as people recite the names of the deceased. This year, some of the grandchildren/nieces/nephews are reading names. It’s doubly touching; while they weren’t present to see their relatives, their memories are kept alive.

Eighteen years later, crowd surrounding the World Trade Center site grows thinner, but the message of remembrance stays the same.

Life goes on, yet we must never forget.

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