September 11, 2001, a day that we will always remember as the worst attack that has ever occurred on American soil. Like many others, I will always remember what I was doing, when I received word. I was working at St. John’s University. I was typing away at my desk when my friend Aman came by and said that a plane had just flown into the Twin Towers. At first, I did not believe him; I thought he had to be joking. He said that we could see the smoke from the Towers while standing on top of the Law School building. In disbelief, I ventured out to see the damage. As if I was watching a horror movie on a big screen TV, I stood there, on top of the Law School, watching the smoke engulf the sky. Panic started to set in as my mind raced about what was happening, were the people safe on our Manhattan campus, and whether my fiancé was safe. He worked for the phone company and had been assigned to that location. I rushed back to my office to find out what needed to be done, and who should be called. Working in the Office of Information Technology, we were surely affected. Our wonderful team had already assessed interruptions in communications due to a T1 being lost, but reassured everyone that everything was under control; and confirmed that everyone on the Manhattan campus was safe. When the second plane hit Tower Two, I was trying desperately to call my fiancé but would only get a network busy, and then when the call did go through, it went straight to voice mail. It felt like the world was about to come to an end; or the beginning of World War III. On my lunch break I rushed home. I prayed that he was okay, and that he had found his way home from work. I rushed up to my apartment, and there he was, sound asleep. He never even left the house to go to work; he had called out sick, and had no idea about what had happened. Happy and frustrated all at the same time, I gave him a hug, and returned to my office. From the office we watched the conflicting news reports. I felt as though our humanity had bonded. Our IT team was a mixed bunch, and regardless the background, petty office squabbles and politics no longer mattered. We all were afraid, hurt, and angry over the attacks of 9/11, and we were all changed forever.
This tragedy forced me to face the vulnerability of our freedom, as my classes changed from discussing standard legal practices, to discussing the new department of Homeland Security, and the affects of the Patriot Act; as I comforted middle eastern classmates over the affects this tragedy was having on their day to day lives, and their families; as more police officers were present on our streets, and as we prepared disaster response plans. My heart melted everyday that I had to hear of the amount of bodies accounted for, and those who were missing. My cousin is a surgeon, who worked the site, and spoke of the carnage that was left, like that of a massive bomb. My mind kept saying, not here on my land, not in America; however, my heart never sought retribution, it sought answers. This event turned me into an information junkie. I wanted to know how this could happen, and how they could be sure that this attack was foreign and not domestic. I watched news report after news report, day in and day out. I had seen the initial reports when Bush was flip flopping on who was responsible; and I will never forget the numb look on his face as he received word of what happened. I never thought that I could have hated a Politician, the way that I hated Bush at that very moment when I first saw his response. His ignorance infuriated me. I had hoped that he would now realize that the White House was not another Country Club, and politics was not just a game of Chess; there are real people, with real lives affected by their decisions every single day. I am not saying that Bush was directly responsible, although there are reports that may prove me wrong; however, I do believe that the policies of Bush are ultimately what made us vulnerable to attack; and on September 11th of every year I am reminded on why we must never allow our White House, our nation, and our freedoms to be hijacked by Bush like cronies. Through this tragedy, I was able to see just how God delivered us, I have been able to feel him comfort me, and he allowed me to comfort others. Today, I still feel a great deal of sadness as I remember watching people jumping from the buildings; as I remember how afraid I was for the safety of my family and friends; and as I remember how my air and water had been polluted with soot from the buildings, causing me to break out in dark rashes. I left NY five months after the attacks. Stress was taking its toll on my health, as I started to have problems with my blood pressure, started to loss lots of weight, and my hair started to fall out. Today, I am not sure whether it was the job, 9/11, or the culmination of all events. I just knew that I had to leave.
This is the first time that I am writing anything on 9/11. At first, I was not sure whether I should, or I shouldn’t share. But then I thought, there may be people out there who really do not know why, someone like me may chose to remember 9/11, or why at times I just would want to forget. My faith has grown stronger, allowing me to discuss the matter, and I am reassured that God will continue to carry us through, continuing to bring clarity on the impact of this event in the days to come. He has even allowed me to discover a travel companion called “O God Tender and Just – Reflections and Responses after September 11, 2001”, written by the United Church of Christ, and edited by Elizabeth C. Nordbeck. I started this book today. It is inspiring and reassuring. I look forward to discussing it further in the days to come. I invite you to read along with me, and send me your comments. You can receive your copy by visiting http://www.ucc.org/disaster/national-disaster-resources.html. Let’s keep one another reminded that through tragedy we gain strength. We are a resilient nation, that must only look back to learn from our past in preparation for grasping all that we hope for in our future.