Today is 11 September 2018, and i just got off work…..I felt restless and can’t seem to follow the daily routine of afternoon naps or preparing meals for tonight. There are thoughts i’d like to share with this travel community i fell in love with. I am firm believer of sharing stories about today, 17 years ago, because not only do you share history, but also share that fear, compassion, love, and the spirit that brought people together. That day was 11 September 2001, which i remembered as the quietest day.
You can literally ask ANY AMERICAN what happened on 11 September 2001, and they would be able to tell you EVERY EXACT details of their day, thoughts, and that feeling. It is the day we will never forget…..
I was 11 years old in the 6th grade starting middle school in the Washington DC metropolitan area. At this time my younger brother attended elementary school, my mother worked at the health department for the City of Alexandria (outside of DC), and father was a self-employed contractor in the facility maintenance business. I rode the bus to school that morning and went to home room around 0730. Around 0930, we switched classes to 1st block, English, and i noticed right away that the teachers were all whispering something to each-other. At that time, i didn’t care enough nor did i understand something horrible happened. I then noticed the announcements were coming on to dismiss some of my classmates. I still didn’t know what was happening at this time. All the teachers and staff were very quite and glued to their computers or staring out the windows. It seemed like they all were not there….
We were dismissed from school early around noon that day. One of the most eerie feelings was that i didn’t hear much traffic or noise in my neighborhood. My whole family was home when i got back to the house. There wasn’t much noise or the typical “How was your day?”…instead everyone was around the TV in the basement living room. For the next 8 hours that day, we watched playbacks of the planes crashing into the World Trade Centers in New York City, buildings crumbling, people running, and how the whole world changed around us. One of the most vivid memories i had from that day was when i walked outside around 8pm (light was still out), and saw the only plane in the sky being escorted by possible fighter jets. My uncle told me that what i saw was the presidential plane “Air Force One” being escorted by jets toward his safe house. I remember that on TV, the news mentioned all flights in the United States were going to be grounded for at least 24 hours. The next day, the people within my neighborhood held a candlelight vigil. This was the first time in my life i’ve total strangers, get together and held hands, and held the American flag up high together. There were many tears, hugs, and stories during this event on the evening of 12 September. I do remember feeling fear and warmth in my heart mixed with a heavy stone in your stomach. At this time, i don’t think i realized what this meant for not just us…but for the world we live in.
Approximately 3000 people perished that day, including the first responders who ran into hell while others are running from it. The casualties included people of different ethnic, religion, and culture across this world. Terrorism does not discriminate and it destroyed families, lives, and the sense of peace. What it didn’t and NEVER will take away from us is the love and compassion we have for one another as human beings. As i mentioned before, this tragic event brought people together and kept the ones we love close to us. I never thought that this single event shaped what i didn’t in my adult life and the way i would think, especially as an American in a foreign country. Knowing of those and learning about the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom really puts everything in perspective, especially when you speak on behalf of your country. That single day which changed our lives will never be forgotten or will i ever forget the sacrifices of those who ran into Hell that day…