Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept. 11, 2008

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and I made my annual trip to lower Manhattan to pay my respects to those who lost their lives on that horrible day.

I will never forget where I was on that morning. I was in my second journalism class at the University of New Hampshire. It was a crisp late-summer day with a deep blue sky. I noticed an image the North Tower on fire on the news as I waited on line for breakfast. I didn't think too much of it as I walked to class. Less than an hour later, however, my professor abruptly dismissed us and told us "the world is falling apart." We were confused because we still did not have any tangible visual by which to go, but I will never forget those haunting and tragically prophetic words. I hurried to the nearby Memorial Union Building, where I had breakfast less than two hours before, and immediately saw a couple hundred students and staff gathered along the wall or sitting on the floor in stunned silence watching the North Tower collapsing onto lower Manhattan. This scene remains the most terrifyingly surreal thing I have ever seen in my life. My only instinctive response was to call my Mom and ask "What the hell is going on?"

I spent this morning in and around St. Paul's Chapel, which is across the street from Ground Zero. It is an amazingly peaceful sanctuary in the midst of lower Manhattan's chaotic streetscape. This sanctuary also provided refuge to firefighters, police officers and others during the days and weeks after the attacks, so it seemed fitting to commemorate Sept. 11 in a place that helped so many through some of the darkest days this city and this country has ever seen.

As I stood among a few dozen people and reporters during the first moment of silence, the one thing that struck me more than anything else was the steady stream of people walking from nearby PATH and subway stations to their jobs. One could have thought for a split second that this Thursday morning was like any other in New York. It clearly wasn't. Another thing today isn't is an opportunity to ask pointed and politically charged questions about what could have been done to prevent the attacks or to speculate on far-flung conspiracy theories as to whether the government played a role. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on Sept. 11 and they must remain the focus on this day. We as Americans owe them that basic debt of gratitude.


Anonymous said...

I had already studied Islamic militant movements so 9-11 didn't surprise me at all. After they tried to blow up the building in what, 1993, I was saying that much worse is to come. Unfortunately, we had a Republican in power at the time so of course they used it as an excuse to illegally invade Iraq and steal its oil wealth. What they should have done was gotten the world community on our side to flush out these militant groups wherever they hide, but that opportunity was missed. Ironically, just 7 years after 9-11, the US is now perceived as the worst war criminals on the planet, thanks to the Republican foreign policy that is fully backdy by the McCain-Palin ticket. ==--= Nick

Joey said...'re from NYC but you were away at school in N.H. ?