The Pentagon, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, The Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York, NY; Seven years have passed since that tragic day when over 3000 innocent lives were lost senselessly on September 11th 2001. 3000 lives! I can not even fathom the number. Precious human lives, including infants, wiped out on a single sunny September morning amidst a cloudless blue sky. While some died instantly, most suffered knowing that they were staring death in the face as heat and smoke scratched away mercilessly at their lives. Desperation enveloped many, driving them to end their own lives, instead of waiting to die, as they flung their bodies through the windows of the Twin Towers. Can you imagine waiting to die? I was fortunate enough to know people who worked at the World Trade Center and were able to escape; still not fortunate enough because all of the strangers who died do not feel like strangers for some reason. They feel like family.
I was late to work as usual going to my job in Times Square. I had no idea as my train was moving underneath the World Trade Center, that the first plane had already hit. When I came out at my stop, Times Square which is usually bustling with people and cars, was eerily bare except for the endless stream of blaring fire engines racing downtown. Hundreds of these same brave soldiers – firefighters and other rescue workers moving past me lost their lives and are still losing their lives today as the effects of being exposed to toxins at Ground Zero set in.
When I got to my office, everyone was huddled around the T.V. Then I finally saw what all the confusion was about. I tried calling my family with my cell but of course there was no reception. Unknown to me at the time, my train was one of the last trains allowed to enter Manhattan. Immediately all bridges were closed. I couldn't get back to Brooklyn, at least not now. I changed into my running shoes and kept my jacket on, in case the bridges were allowed to reopen. Almost three hours passed. We watched the first tower collapse unto itself in flames; sending a toxic cloud of smoke everywhere. My heart sank instantly.
To make a long story short, the bridges were reopened over three hours later and I raced out of my building. That was the scariest elevator ride I have ever had from the 52nd floor. Outside, instead of people normally pushing and being rude, everyone walked around like zombies, hand in hand...black, white, Chinese, Indian what-have-you. It didn't matter today. I was in awe. I made it to a Brooklyn Bound train and I didn't care which train it was as long as it was heading out of Manhattan. We were packed like sardines. As the conductor started slowly and cautiously going over the bridge, we were all face to face with an unreal sight. It was no longer T.V. This was the real thing!! Columns of smoke became one massive black cloud trailing up through the blue sky. There was nothing but silence. Our beautiful skyline, the twin skyscrapers which we always looked upon with adoration, was ripped apart. More so than that, human lives were becoming dust before our very eyes. Knowing all to well that there was a bomb threat for bridges, everyone was at the edge of their seats (at least the ones that were sitting). THAT was by far the scariest train ride ever to say the least. As the thick cloud of blackness made its way over to Brooklyn, transit buses refrained from picking up the droves of frantic people in the streets. When I finally made it home 4 hours later, I experienced my first full fledge asthma attack. Well that is my story.
For the last couple of nights, I have been peering through my apartment window at the two shafts of white light emitted from Ground Zero clear into the starry heavens. It truly is a profound sight. I have one hope and one wish. My hope is that each and every one of those lives are still living, beautifully perched in the grand tree that is heaven. And I wish that all of our differences in religion, race, and gender would work as a unifying tool, bringing us together to learn from one another, not as a tool of division. There is so much to learn and yet so little time. Our lives are miniscule compared with the universe.
Let us remember the events of 9/11 so that they may never happen again.