Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where Were You?

When I awoke this morning, I had really not considered what day it was.  It wasn't until I was driving into the office that I heard it mentioned on NPR that this was September 11th.  Just like the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the JFK assassination, September 11th has now become a fixed point in time that will always raise the question, "Where were you on…?"

I was living in Baltimore at the time, working down near the Inner Harbor.  I remember having been in the office for about hour when one of my co-workers announced over the sea of cubicles that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.  CNN's website was providing instantaneous updates as the events unfolded.  But, it wasn't long before it was overloaded by millions of people across the global.

The building in which I work also housed the offices of a local magazine.  They had a conference room with a television, which is where myself and most of my co-workers ended up spending most of the morning, watching as the second plane slammed into the second tower, and as both towers eventually collapsed.  

The day seemed so surreal to me at the time, and even now, it seems like something out of my dreams, or perhaps nightmares is more appropriate.  The raw emotions, that went from despair over the accident to anger as the truth unveiled itself, are still seared into my mind.  And, i can still envision the moment that the first tower began to collapse.  The horrors of the death and destruction were only overshadowed by the selfless sacrifice that was seen throughout that day.  Watching as heroes from the NYPD and NYFD charge headlong into the building to assist those trying to get out, then losing their own lives in the process was not only heart wrenching, but also heartwarming.  The way these men and women cast aside their own safety to help others was what truly defined americans on 9/11.

Do you remember where you were on 9/11?  How did it impact you?  For me, I've began to take more interest in current events.  Before 9/11, I was happy to remain oblivious to what was happening in the world around me.  Now, I stay much more in tune with the news and current events.  I'm no Wolf Blitzer, but at least I am lingering on the fringes these days.

Two months later, I had to fly to Amsterdam for a business trip.  That was when I saw how 9/11 changed things in the world around me.  The presence of heavily-armed military personnel in the airports was the first sign.  Over the years, we have seen many changes in the way that we travel.  The heightening of security at airports, the passing of the Patriot Act, and the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars all show the impact of what 9/11 did to, not only our country, but the whole world.  I wonder if the terrorists had any idea how widespread the impact would be.  Their actions didn't just impact the United States, but every other continent, country, and person in this world.

As we remember those who lost their lives on that day, take a moment to think about how it has changed you.

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