Friday, September 11, 2015

With it being September 11 today, I'd like to take a moment to commemorate all of the lives lost on this tragic anniversary fourteen years ago.

Year after year passes by since 9/11, and it's so easy to forget all of the terrible events that occurred that day. Those who perished, the destruction of New York, and the everyday people all over the country who tried to make sense of what happened---there was so much going on in a world that sometimes seems so far removed from daily existence today.

I've always defined my life in two chapters; before September 11 happened, and after September 11 happened. When the planes struck the Twin Towers that Tuesday morning, I was home in Flushing, Queens. My dad was the only other person in the house at the time, and he woke me up from my stupor to tell me to come to the television because there had been a terrorist attack in New York City. This was also, literally, my first week of starting college in downtown Manhattan. I had just experienced what I now consider probably the best summer of my life, hanging out with my close group of friends on a daily basis as we transitioned from 18-year-old high school graduates as the class of 2001, to the beginning of our adult lives as upcoming college freshman. 

The summer of 2001 was a period in my life that I will forever treasure for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because of the innocence my friends and I had that we so naively never recognized. Those hot months were filled with countless nights of hanging out at each other's houses, loitering in the big municipal parking lot at Flushing's Main Street, going into Manhattan to party at clubs until sunrise, sneaking beer and booze into Karaoke bars, and driving around both day and night in Flushing and Bayside with the radio blasting. This was summertime before smart phones and social media, where we happily lived in our bubble as 18 year olds from Queens.

On that fateful Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001, I didn't want to get out of bed when my dad attempted to wake me up because I had just dyed the front part of my hair blue. I had been planning to hide it for as long as possible because I was terrified of how my dad would react to it. I scrambled to figure out a way to cover it up in my room that morning, and can clearly recall stalling as much as possible. My dad continued to yell at me to get up to watch the tv, and I was relieved when he said nothing about the arbitrary baseball cap on my head as I emerged from my room. And then we saw the footage of the two planes flying into the World Trade Center---and things never really ever seemed the same again. 

After the attack, New York changed overnight in so many ways. But even with all of the loss in the city, there was also this sense of unity that made it feel like we could now endure anything as long as we did it together. We were resilient. We were stronger. We were a country united. We were a city united. 

I currently now live just blocks way from the World Trade Center, and it's like on mornings such as today where I take a moment to pause and fully grasp all that was happening around this neighborhood fourteen years ago. To all of those who died on September 11, today we remember you. To all of the brave American men and women in the military who died fighting for our freedom since then, today we remember you.

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