Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 +10

I am here, remembering that horrific day 10 years ago.  I've been watching the 9/11 memorial service on TV for the past few hours.  The images of that day are still hard to watch, the grief still clearly etched into the hearts of all of us and especially those that lost loved ones on that day as the planes crashed and the buildings fell.  Hearing the names of the victims is a poignant reminder that the lives of thousands were affected so much more intimately than those of us who just watched it from the safety of our own homes.

I was at work that morning, at my desk when someone said a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade towers.  Our office was open concept, so we were all sitting in cubicles next to each other, making it easy for us to talk to each other and share the disbelief over the images we were seeing on the Internet.  I don't remember much about the rest of that day, how long we stayed at the office.  I think eventually we were sent home, our employers knowing that people would want to be with their families and that no work would be done that day.  I know I went to a friend's house around dinner time, where a bunch of us gathered to watch the continuing news coverage.  Somehow I hadn't had the TV on before then so when I first saw footage of the plane flying into the North Tower, I thought it was a computer generation and I remarked on how well done it was, that they could re-create that image so well.  That's when someone told me it was actual footage of it happening and I can still recall very clearly how shocked I was to realize that's what we were seeing. It still pains my heart every time I see it, and there have been many times since then.

Today, I am also reminded of a trip to New York City I took in October 2006 with my friends Debbie and Bryan, who were visiting from Australia.  None of us had ever been to the Big Apple before and one of the places we were all anxious to visit was the World Trade Centre site, and I took these photos during that visit.  We were each very touched to visit that place five years after the fact, the images still poignant, the memorials still present.  It still means a lot to me today and I expect it always will.

On that trip, I had my picture taken with these firefighters - the epitome of handsome and brave.  If there's one thing we all learned on 9/11 in a painfully graphic fashion, it was a heightened awareness of the type of risks emergency personnel, not just firefighters but all first responders, face every day just doing their job. I for one am very grateful for all their efforts, there in New York City that day and all around the world every day before and since then.

What I also remember from that fateful day in September 2001, what stays with me most strongly today, are the images and the stories of people helping others in both big and small ways that day and the days that followed, from Canadians in Gander, Newfoundland who invited airplane travellers into their homes when their planes were grounded there to those who put their own safety at risk, and in the case of the passengers of Flight 93 who gave their lives, in order to save the lives of strangers.  The triumph of the human spirit, the courage, the bravery, the selflessness of all of these individuals is extraordinary and an example to us all that we can each reach out to help others every day in small ways that can change lives in a positive way.  That's how each of us fight back against acts of terrorism every time we do reach out to another with love instead of hate.

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