Where were you? The question we are all asking one another today.
I was in the truck on the way to a jobsite. I actually sat in the truck listening to the radio most of the day. The news kept coming in... More planes missing… another crashes into the Pentagon… one more in PA… the President was flying around somewhere… are we under attack? Who is doing this? Is it really happening? The whole thing sounded more like an action flick than reality…
Being a Civil Engineer, I knew the towers were going to come crashing down- soon. Tens of thousands of people were about to die. I was – and still am – impressed at how long those towers stood – at how many people were able to escape with their lives. It was as if the hand of God was holding them up as long as he could - in answer to all those praying for the people inside. In the days following, critics were quick to blame the engineers who “should” have designed for such an event. Tell me this – on 9/10/01, how many of us could have even imagined something like this happening? Exactly… The buildings were engineered way ahead of their time. The engineers who designed the WTC are the unsung heroes of 9/11.
We hear a lot about the Firefighters and Police officers who died trying to rescue others. I don’t mean to belittle the NYPD or NYFD or make light of their losses, but why don’t we hear more about the people who died sitting at their desks, reading their e-mail or getting their morning cup of coffee b/c as far as they knew… it was just another Tuesday morning. What about those on the floor above the impact? They knew there was no way out. They made their good-byes and waited for a painful death. What about the people on those planes who were just taking an ordinary flight and ended up riding in a bomb. What of the flight crews murdered by the terrorists? We seem to almost have forgotten the plane that hit the Pentagon and the lives lost there. Can it be that this tragedy is still to great to wrap our minds around six years later?
Where I live, only an hour from The City (we’re so close we don’t even need to say New York), we could see smoke rising from the west for weeks. If you went to the beach, you could see the Manhattan Skyline and the smoke billowing up from ground zero. On a clear day (remember how clear and bright that day was?) you can still see the skyline and anyone around here can tell you where the WTC was. There is a gaping hole to remind us of how much we lost that day.
We lost more than real-estate, more than those 3000+ lives. We lost our innocence and our security. We used to feel safe. War happened “over there”. Terrorists were in South America and the Middle East. If we saw an unattended bag in the airport we might have brought it to lost and found. Now we are afraid to open our mail. An unattended bag gets the building evacuated and the bomb squad is called. We are spying on our neighbors and suspicious of cab drivers. I can no longer promise my children that nothing bad will ever happen to them.
The truth is – we are never really safe. We just didn’t know that before.
So I ask you blog readers: Where were you the day our world changed? Share your story, thoughts and reflections in the comments…