In honor of the 10th anniversary of September 11th, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect back on that horrible day in our history.  It’s a day, similar to the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, that the United States of America realized that we were not untouchable.  We could be attacked.

I worked downtown Detroit in the Federal Building at that time.  A girlfriend of mine called my office and asked me to come down to her car and help her carry some items up to her office.  As we were walking through the parking lot, a woman stopped us and said “Did you hear that a plane has crashed in to the World Trade Center?”  To be bluntly honest……at this point I didn’t truly even know WHAT the WTC was……let alone WHERE it was.  Given the name, at the time I assumed it was somewhere in England.  So, to be honest, the gravity of this information was completely lost on me at that particular moment.  My girlfriend and I kind of shrugged our shoulders and continued on our merry way.

Once inside the Federal Building, the seriousness of the situation was finally beginning to set in.  Federal security officers were scrambling to get information and take precautions and there was a noticeably heightened effort to secure the building and lock it down.  Checkpoints were being thoroughly enforced and IDs were being checked.  We’d made it up to our offices, where we both worked for Veterans Services Organizations.  By this time the second plane had already crashed.  Every Veteran we worked with had an odd and somber look on their faces.  They KNEW what this all meant.  Almost immediately, an announcement was made throughout the entire Federal Building that we were being evacuated because the level of the threat was so very unclear at this point.  We were instructed that it would be wise to go directly home.

Over the next few days, like every one else in the rest of the country, I was fixated on the TV, mesmerized and horrified by the events.  When reports were given about all the first responders that were killed, I was almost immediately grateful for my own Police Officer husband that was sitting right next to me and felt immense sadness for the families of those who souls were obviously too brave to remain on earth any longer.

In the interim, our Country has been changed forever.  Some, sadly, blamed an entire culture of good people for the insidious behavior of a few.  We collectively grew distrustful and resentful of the mere presence of anyone who looked remotely like the terrorists that boarded those planes that day.  What we need to remember, in the spirit of the memory of all those souls that perished, is that in living in fear and hate, and projecting that hate on to people who don’t deserve it, the terrorists will have accomplished one of their biggest goals……..they will have broken us.  We need to remember that Arab Americans have shed tears of anguish right beside us.  The United States is their country too and they feel the pain of that moment with much of the same sadness as the rest of us do.  Many of those Arab families came to the US to escape the horrors that we experienced on that day.  We all need to embrace one another in our pain and in our heartbroken memories of that day.

And so, my wish on this day of remembrance ten years later….is to not allow those deaths to be in vain.  We should love one another more……and stronger……and be hopeful that we can face this tragedy with a modicum of decency to our fellow man…..we should be fierce in our belief that if we stand shoulder to shoulder with one another and allow NOTHING to shatter our unity as a Nation, we will persevere.

 

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