Eleven years ago yesterday, a major terrorist attack struck the World Trade Center twin towers and Pentagon (with a fourth plane plunged down in Pennsylvania by passengers who weren't willing to give up a fight and let more people be killed). Once the attacks were over, nearly 3,000 innocent people were murdered. Tens of thousands of people mourned, a whole nation went into pain, and a whole world prayed for the U.S., which is considered to be the focal point of the globe. Normally, the U.S. doesn't get hit hard by attacks, but when it does, time stops, and it becomes eerie and disturbing.
Eleven years later, I still remember what happened that very day. I was asleep when my mom woke me up to tell me that the north tower was on fire, either by some kind of in-house fire or a helicopter. I went upstairs to see what was going on, for I can see the towers from the roof of my building. When I did, more than twenty people were there watching, and cops showed up not long after to protect it. About ten minutes later, the second tower got hit, and all of us were into a "holy shit" mode. I was speechless, I didn't know what was going on.
Soon, I walked down and turned on the TV to discover the south tower had collapsed. It was a terrorist attack into the towers, the Pentagon, and another one that was diverted by passengers. About ten minutes before the north tower collapsed, I ran back up to the roof and saw Downtown Manhattan billowing in thick, black, brown smoke and dust and the north tower burning up to the point where I knew it was going to collapse at any given moment. And a few minutes later, the north tower collapsed. I was stunned and shocked. I was fourteen at the time, so I was more aware about death and huge tragedies at the time, but witnessing one and reading them are two different things. I watched thousands of people dying in front of me, and it took only later that night, the tributes, and age to fully soak it in.
Later that day, Mom told me that I watched the worst attack in American history, and she's right. Long before my time, and even before my mother's and aunts', a major attack by the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. 9/11 is this generation's Pearl Harbor for Americans.
And even though it was America that was hit the hardest, 9/11 shouldn't be forgotten for the following.
- It changed the entire American culture, particularly New York City and Washington, D.C. Part of the skyline's fame is the tall towers, and the twin towers were easily recognizable because of their tube-like structures. Part of the FDNY's background logo is the twin towers. In addition, the New York Mets' scoreboard skyline from Shea Stadium (which is now the roof decoration for Citi Field's Shake Shack) had the towers, and it was wrapped in the red/white/blue memorial ribbon following the attacks.
- It completely changed everything we know about security throughout not just the U.S., but the entire western world, too. Notice all the security measures before and after 9/11. Many of those, from the tighter security check-ins in the airport to more cautious reviews of people's passports to the controversial screening and pat-downs in the U.S., are a result of 9/11.
- The United States is, more or less, a place where people consider themselves safe, especially New York City's hearts like Downtown Manhattan, the revitalizing of Downtown Brooklyn, and Times Square. People come to the U.S. as a way to get themselves off the ground and function in society. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 broke that seal and "bereaved a lot of people" (Vertekins, the SSMB).
- It was an attack on the military core. The Pentagon was hit hard by the attacks, and if it weren't for the brave passengers on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania, that plane would've hit the White House. The Pentagon, Capitol, and White House are part of the core that makes up the United States military.
- It didn't just affect one nationality. Everyone from all nationalities and religions, in some way or another, were affected. Jews, Christians, Catholics, Muslims, etc. The remembrance of 9/11 is a tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who died from the attacks; to commemorate, remember, and honor the loved ones who perished; and mourn along with the tens of thousands of loved ones. Not one nationality nor religion was exempt from the terrorist attacks.
- Thousands of brave men and women joined together to aid others, even at the cost of their own lives. The NYPD and FDNY sacrificed themselves in order to save innocent people from the burning World Trade Center. The hospitals worked overtime to care and heal those injured on 9/11. The boat workers went beyond the call of duty and rescued people hurt and dusty from the debris and get them back home to safety. Forgetting about it makes their hard work purposeless.
- It's a chain of events that happened in broad daylight, on live TV, for the world to see. As a New Yorker, I watched nearly the whole thing live, both on the news and in front of my very eyes. Compared to atrocities like North Korea and the wars in Africa, we don't capture this raw, graphic footage and pictures anywhere, especially when it's rolling as I'm watching. I, and millions of people around the world, watched almost 3,000 people DIE from the time the first tower was struck to the days after the collapse of the World Trade Center. Events like this are horrifying and very hard to sink in.
- Telling people to "get over" it is completely insulting to yourselves, myself, and the entire world. Eleven years, even today, is still not a very long time to end mourning. It especially doesn't make much sense due to the fact that people were killed in the masses by cowards, and the dead's family and friends couldn't do anything except watch and hear the voices of their loved ones tell them, "I love you," and die as the infrastructure is crushed on top of them. On YouTube is a very disturbing phone call from a man whose line got cut off when one of the towers collapsed on top of him.
Furthermore, telling people to "get over it" demonizes the police and fire department who went beyond the call of duty, put all of their training to work, and rescue as many innocent people as possible KNOWING that they were likely going to be killed themselves. You also desecrate the graves of the passengers who were on that flight that crashed into that Pennsylvania field if you tell people to "get over it" and pretend it never happened. Those passengers sacrificed their lives to make sure the terrorists didn't murder any more innocent people. You're basically calling their efforts to rescue as many innocent people as possible meaningless!
And lastly, telling people to "get over it" does nothing but tell the entire world that we didn't learn anything from 9/11, period. September 11th, 2001 was a wake-up call to the U.S. and the entire planet that we had to be more secure and watchful of what we say and do. We can't just use this "we're jesting" excuse. Many new security measures began as a result of 9/11. Have you heard of this phrase, "If you see something, say something?" Ever recall the Patriot Act (and, yes, I hate this Act due to its ability to withhold habeas corpus for non-U.S. citizens)? But this phrase, higher security measures (however controversial they are), and reminders of 9/11 are there to tell people about it and make sure we don't get another occurrence such as this again. Will it never happen again? We don't know. Hopefully, it never does.
The last reason is much more personal. I rarely, RARELY mention this anywhere on the Internet because it's that personal to me. In fact, besides today, I've only talked about it twice only. So I'm hiding it under spoilers.
Fortunately, none of my family and friends died that day. However, by shear luck, I'm glad, too. About two years prior, my mom was applying for jobs, and one of them was in the north tower on the 104th floor. She was a finalist for the job, and she had all the credentials for it. However, she didn't get the job. If she did get the job, my mom would be DEAD today.
I recommend to read and watch documentaries about 9/11. Around the tenth anniversary was raw, never-before-scene footage of a rescue mission by one house of the FDNY on CBS. It lasted for hours, straight through, uncensored. It showed the urgency of the house, the people jumping to their deaths, the anxiety of the FDNY, and the sound of the towers collapsing. It was disturbing, raw, and emotional. I deeply respected the brave NYPD and FDNY for sacrificing themselves in order to rescue the innocents. This show made me respect them more and showed the more gruesome horror of the terrorist attacks and the brave responses of the FDNY.
If that doesn't work, attend the 9/11 Memorial or look at pictures of it. Opened on the tenth anniversary, it's a place where everyone who died from the attacks is memorialized. It's quiet, somber, and shows a complete amount of respect for those who perished from those cowardly attacks.
September 11, 2001 was a dark day for the U.S. and the entire world. Forgetting about it means the sacrifices of the police, fire department, other rescue workers, and the passengers on that flight that crashed into the Pennsylvania plains worthless. While we don't need to have an annual tribute show, it is nonetheless important for people to know about 9/11, research it, remember it, and understand it to ensure that a mass, concurrent tragedy like this never, ever happens again. I witnessed it as a New Yorker, and while I didn't lose any loved one, I understand and feel for the pain for those who are still mourning for the losses of their loved ones. 9/11's anniversaries and tribute, no matter how big or small, keeps the memories of the dead alive, and forgetting about them diminishes those memories and their sacrifices. 9/11: Never Forget.
P.S.: Credit goes to Vertekins of the Sonic Stadium Message Board for some of the pieces of my blog post here.