Twenty Years: 9/11 Attacks – A Date That Will Live in Infamy*

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As the 9/11 terror attacks are at the twenty-year anniversary, this generation's "date that will live in infamy," does. It remains seared in the minds of those who lived and worked in the locations where the planes shattered the peaceful calm.

For New Yorkers, the morning was much like every other morning. It was, however, a beautiful early autumn day. Cool temperatures, azure blue cloudless skies, visibility for miles. The type of day the millions of tourists who flock to Manhattan hope to have when they reach the top of the World Trade Center's Observation floor, blue skies, and visibility as far as the eye can see.

September 11, 2001 - We Remember

Personal recollections aren't from ground zero. At 8:48am, 90 seconds after the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, hit Tower 1, my eyes popped opened, and I stared at the digital numbers on the clock.

Early for me, as a second shift worker at a Wall Street law firm, the car service which brought me from Wall Street to New Jersey, the night before, September 10, was long. A traffic jam outside the World Trade Center, caused a backup and my driver and I spoke for about ten minutes on the beauty of the buildings, the Windows on the World restaurant, the Observation Floor, the majesty of the structures.

September 11, my peace was shattered. Never a good morning person, talk television at 7:00am was not my priority so, for the next hour, as I tried to meditate, my spirit was agitated and for lack of a better description, my mojo was amiss. Looking back, I feel like the shockwave of the first plane hitting Tower 1 traveled across the land.

Finally told about the attacks by my then roommate, I immediately turned on the television and over the next couple of hours screamed at people long dead, who chose to end life on their own terms as panic overwhelmed them and every escape route was blocked. The devastating images replayed in rotation.

Justice Watch: A Failed System The Victim X Story (Part I)

Drawn, I set out to walk to the edge of the Hudson River in New Jersey, where the Manhattan skyline could be seen. I was not alone, as people of all races and ages were standing along the fence watching the same billowing smoke stain this perfect Autumn Day.

For the most part the scene was solemn, even as a few of the onlookers were challenged emotionally with what they were seeing, bursts of nervous laughter interrupted what could only be described as a funeral scene. Now, I can understand the need to process deep pain or unarticulated emotions through laughter, then I felt it was an interruption into my grieving process and was agitated.

Public transportation was halted so it was impossible to get any closer. By the next morning, the ferry system was running and again drawn to the city I once called home, I made my way into Manhattan. Again, I was not alone as supporters, families of the fallen and those hoping against hope of finding someone alive, it could happen, it did in earthquakes, with hope, they lined the streets, waiting, for the signal, the word of finding someone, anyone, one person, who would give hope to all, but the signal never arrived. No one was pulled from the rubble, after the first day.

Then a parade of garbage trucks of twisted steel, metal, rock, debris began rolling through the West Side highway and spontaneous applause from the thousands, the thankful, the hopeful carried the marathon of vehicles back and forth.

Justice Watch: The Perfect Crime (The Victim X Story Pt. 2)

Like everyone I retreated back to the television screen and watched as the days following the attack ran one into another. During that time, I had been employed in what was known as the quad, a section of lower Manhattan, filled with law firms and Wall Street. One week prior I had been part of the race, running errands, handling dentists' appointments, today, it all seemed pointless. After we had been cleared to return to the office, most everyone seemed to have survived without physical casualty, except one of the secretaries. She explained as tears welled up, a relative, a sister's husband was a fireman, and even then, they were still hoping against the passing of each day that he may be found alive. Her personal story was profound and her grief palpable.

Then the nightmares began. For a month after the World Trade Center attack, I began to have tornado dreams, nightmares of four tornados bearing down, each night it was different, one would veer off, I would be responsible for a classroom of children, I needed to warn people, to get them to safety and one dream the tornadoes split the house. I understood, at the time, my mind was processing the attack, I just didn't understand why it had affected me to such a degree.

I began to write poetry, a series of three poems "On That Day," "Vanishing Footsteps" and "Into the Canyons" to process the grief of a city, while others explain a spirit of comradery, of hope in religious symbols, the city that I witnessed was separated at 14th street.

Justice Watch: Jealousy, Greed, and The Seven Deadly Sins – The Victim X Story Pt.3

Lower Manhattan was in shock, and for the rest of the bruised, they were trying to remain stoic, jaded, absorbed in the business of the day to keep their thoughts from arranging scenarios of different targets, possible secondary attacks, the truth of the new normal we moved into.

Twenty years, I think of the song from Bob Segar "Like a Rock," "Twenty years where'd they go, twenty years, I don't know." And I think of the World Trade Center, that stood there steady, strong, bathed in beautiful, glimmering, reflective light standing proud, like a rock.

Did the Towers, the Pentagon, hold us as a nation, to a boundary, the defined line that even the most jaded would not cross? And did the September 11, 2001, attacks take more than lives, rock, granite?

Our borders were breeched, and did that breech blur the lines in our souls? Where are we twenty years later? Did the 3000 souls who died on that day, die in vain, die for a cause we have adopted? And the countless first responders, of the more than 25,000 injured, who are now suffering with cancers and other diseases, have we return to our jaded reputation as the rudest city in America? Will we step over them, leave them behind? Has the blight in our history, become a blight in our soul?

Justice Watch: And They Got Away With It (Part 4)

*A day that will live in infamy, from Franklin D. Roosevelt's Speech to Congress after the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor. "Yesterday, December 7, 1941— a date which will live in infamy— the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

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