As we reflect upon the tragic events of September 11, 2001, it’s difficult to believe that 10 years have passed. I can recall that day as if it was yesterday – a gorgeous blue sky, blinding sunshine, and a cool, calm breeze that reminded us a change of season was on the way.
I was getting ready to leave for work at 8:46 a.m., when the first plane hit the North Tower. My mother came to break the news and asked me to stay home. However, thinking it was just a freak accident, I headed to the bus stop as if it was any other day. But, listening to the radio as I drove, I learned that a second plane had hit the South Tower, and I knew something was terribly wrong. My father, who had worked on the 84th floor of that building, had recently changed jobs and was working for a company on Park Place, just blocks from Ground Zero. As the bus, diverted from its normal route into Manhattan, instead made its way to the Staten Island Ferry, my thoughts immediately shifted to his safety. As we got nearer to the ferry terminal, I could see the smoke pouring out of the towers and knew right then and there, life would never be the same.
But, I was lucky. By that point, all ferry service to Manhattan had ceased. I made my way back to my car and, eventually, home to learn that my Dad had evacuated his building and was out on the streets surrounding the towers. My mother had gone to pick up my two younger sisters at school. I waited by the phone, watching the coverage on television, praying that my Dad would make it out unharmed.
To this day, I cannot watch the footage of the South Tower’s collapse without completely breaking down. At that moment, I thought my father had been lost, and an overwhelming sense of sadness, emptiness and pain set in.
But, once again, I was so very lucky.
After an unforgettable day-long journey, my father made it home. I was – and still am – so very grateful I did not lose him that day. It is often and with a heavy heart that I think of 2,973 people who were not as fortunate.
September 11 is a day we will never forget. While we can never fully comprehend the reason so many innocent people’s lives were taken, we can honor them by keeping them in our thoughts and prayers, living life to the fullest, and treating others with kindness and respect.
“We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we will always be free.” – Ronald Reagan