Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that forever changed our world.
It was like any other normal September day in New York City. Nice weather and clear skies as residents from the Tri-State poured into lower Manhattan for work. Just as I assume was happening with residents from the D.C. metro area on their way to the Pentagon to start their workday. What would happen next was unimaginable, unthinkable, and unforgiveable.
I remember September 10, 2001 like it was yesterday. I had finished lunch with a friend in City Hall Park, I recall the Twin Towers shining in the cloudless sky, a site I had seen thousands of times. A mere 20 hours later I found myself, along with many others, on Veterans Memorial Pier in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn looking directly onto the burning towers.
I remember hearing the blaring sound of FDNY, NYPD, and EMT sirens. I remember being both saddened and angered by what was transpiring in the city I have called home my entire life.
2,977 innocent fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and co-workers were taken from us that day. It was the darkest day our nation had ever seen, a day I knew would change America forever.
Though we suffered tremendous losses that day, New Yorker’s proved they were what we always knew they were—resilient, caring and capable of more than we could ever imagine. The stories of heroism that day never ceases to amaze me, and I was never prouder to be a New Yorker than I was in the days following the attacks.
To all 9/11 was 20 years ago, but to many 9/11 was yesterday, tomorrow, Sunday, Monday and every day after.
We vowed to “Never Forget,” but it saddens me to say we have. We now villainize the very men and women of the NYPD who selflessly ran into the burning towers to save lives, we carelessly stroll by the very firehouses that once housed the men and women who remained in WTC 1, knowing WTC 2 had collapsed, but refused to evacuate because they still had a mission inside.
Not a day has gone by that I haven’t, if even only for a second, thought about September 11. Not a day will go by where I won’t think about September 11.
I, like all of you reading this, will never forget what I felt in my heart that fateful day. I will never forget the sacrifice our heroes made, I will never forget that when staring in the face of danger, no one responds like a New Yorker.
I do not take the phrase “Never Forget” lightly, I do not take all those we lost for granted, and I hold on dearly to what I felt in the days following—proud to be a New Yorker, proud to be an American.