What We Will Never Get Back
the Aftermath of Osama Bin Laden's Death
As an American, I spent the wee hours Sunday watching and waiting for our President to address the Nation and formerly announce the death of Osama Bin Laden. So many people had already posted the news on Facebook, I was prepared for the speech he gave. However, I felt no relief as so many others seemed to. I felt sad and bruised, I did not feel that this was a positive step forward. I am once again concerned about what will happen next.
Of course one less terrorist in the world is always a plus, however, it does not change what happened in America on September 11, 2001. I am a New Yorker. Born and raised here in the city that never sleeps, where anything is possible, I have a strength and resilience that only comes with growing up looking at that incredible skyline and knowing that whatever you could want to do is a simple ferry ride away. On that beautiful September morning, I prepared my pregnant self to teach the first full day of Kindergarten. My young sons were deposited to their classrooms and I to mine. Shortly into my morning of introductions and sunny welcomes, my husband appeared at the door of my classroom to bring me some grave news. Many of the parents of these students were across the water working, as were my friends and relatives. We were paralyzed. This was America, these things did not happen to us. I escaped to the main office where I witnessed the video of the planes hitting our towers and our towers were burning with the people of New York inside. This image is emblazed in our minds, it will never leave.
My husband, like me, grew up looking at the twin towers every day of his life. We live in an area where Manhattan is quite visible to us. We loved our skyline. That day all we could see was smoke. We were close enough to even smell the smoke. We felt violated. We still do. As the day went on, we heard more and more reports. Then the towers fell. We waited anxiously as slowly word drifted in about our families. Ours were safe, we were lucky. The children of our school were fortunate, most were saved from losing their parents because many parents went to work late or took that day off to spend the first day of school taking their child in themselves. I held tight to my pregant belly and kept my boys close by, grateful that my sons went to the school where I worked and my husband had never gotten to work that day.
Our local newspaper started to print the pictures of the lost. Each day we saw friends, neighbors, classmates, co workers or just people we knew casually appear in the newspaper. They were gone. They had done nothing wrong, they had gotten up, said goodbye to their families, probably looked up at the beautiful sky and smiled on their way to work. Many were the first responders who without a second thought, put themselves in harm's way to do their jobs. They were gone, many without a chance to say goodbye or get one last look at those they loved. It was horrific. We felt brutalized. Shocked and filled with grief. We had lost so much. We had lost not only people, but we had lost the security that we once had. We will never get that back
I will never again look at a gorgeous blue sky without remembering September 11th. Every time an airplane is flying a bit lower than usual, I think twice, I worry if this is another attack. I never let my husband part from me without giving me a kiss because that day taught me not to take anything for granted. I remember driving in the car with my two young sons in the days following the attacks with the radio playing "Proud to Be An American" over and over while dozens of American flags flew everywhere we looked. My oldest son, was six years old at the time, he said to me "Mom, if only Superman was real, he could have raced in and punched those planes away before they hit our buildings." He cried that the two tall buildings were gone because he was too young to understand. But then again, none of us understood why this had to happen.
There is no way to truly measure the loss we as a country suffered that day. We have a count of all of the deceased, but the first responders who lived, many of them are dying now because they are so ill. Some of them could not take the stress and took their own lives. Families were torn apart by grief. I was pregnant in 2001. I went to the doctor shortly after the attacks and the technician told me she was so relieved to see a live baby on my sonogram because since the attacks there had been several miscarriages. More loss. At my daughter's baptism, she was baptised with a child whose father had perished that day. A beautiful little boy whose father never had the chance to hold his child and was only in the church in spirit on that special day.
We can rejoice that our military found the perpetrator and disposed of him. We can be honored and proud that they continue to selflessly put themselves in harm's way to defend our freedom. But it doesn't change what we lost. We will never again feel the security that we felt on September 10, 2001.