September 11 impacted all of us in a very raw and emotional way. To be quite honest, we as Americans thought we were untouchable. We didn’t feel like an event such as 9/11 could ever occur on American soil. When the events of September 11 occurred, and we saw the magnitude of the terrorist attacks, it hit us harder than if we were used to such attacks happening on American soil. I can still remember the details of that day – where I was, what I was doing and how the rest of that day paned out. It was a dark day in history and really sparked my personal mantra of ’om mani padme hum,’ in English terms that simply means compassion. Spreading love is the only way we’ll ever stomp out hate. I was a senior in high school when Al Qaeda attacked the United States of America. I was glued to the coverage on TV, I read every newspaper and magazine I could and I typically commemorate 9/11 in some way every year. I had wanted to visit Ground Zero since it was opened to the public, several years ago. My goal of visiting Ground Zero became a reality earlier this year when I made a trip to New York City during a trip that encompassed visiting six different countries and territories. My visit came exactly 11 1/2 years after that fateful day on September 11, 2001.
Before this moment, everything I had seen of the 9/11 tragedy was footage on the TV, photographs and Hollywood movies. Being at the site of such a horrific event in American history made it all become real. Real people lost their lives. Real people were injured. Real buildings collapsed. Everything was real. I wasn’t filled with anger or vengeance. I strangely felt a sense of calm and peace. The atmosphere was solemn, but anger had no place at this memorial. The World Trade Center memorial wasn’t about the hijackers and the terrorists. It was about the victims, remembrance and resilience. Ground Zero is still a construction site as we build bigger and stronger buildings near the original World Trade Center buildings, so the entire picture of what the new World Trade Center is going to be isn’t completely there yet. I think the designers of the memorial hit the nail on the head. They captured the remembrance of ALL the victims from September 11 and the February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. The designers didn’t just memorialize the victims of the bombing, the North Tower, the South Tower, Flight 11 and Flight 175, but they also etched into the memorial the victims of the Pentagon, Flight 77 and Flight 93.
I rubbed my hand over the names as I passed them and often paused to reflect about so many lives that were taken all too soon. Some lives didn’t even get to experience a moment of life outside their mother’s wombs. The memorial brings life into perspective and while I still struggle with this, it reminds us to not take life for granted.
The Survivor Tree was at the site of the original World Trade Center. It was found in October of 2001 still alive. It was nursed back to health and still survives today. While it’s inanimate, the strength of this tree is an inspiration to us all. Through the worst of tragedies, we can still overcome and survive anything.
I wanted to post the video of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s opening of Saturday Night Live after the 9/11 attacks, but couldn’t find it. As a St. Louisan and a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan, I have chosen to post the video of legendary Cardinal’s announcer, Jack Buck and the poem he read at Busch Stadium to commemorate the events of September 11, 2001 days later when baseball resumed.
Since this nation was founded under God,
more than 200 years ago,
We have been the bastion of freedom,
the light that keeps the free world aglow.
We do not covet the possessions of others;
We are blessed with the bounty we share.
We have rushed to help other nations;
War is just not our nature,
We won’t start but we will end the fight.
If we are involved,
We shall be resolved,
To protect what we know is right.
We have been challenged by a cowardly foe,
Who strikes and then hides from our view.
With one voice we say,
“We have no choice today,
There is only one thing to do.”
Everyone is saying the same thing and praying,
That we end these senseless moments we are living.
As our fathers did before,
We shall win this unwanted war,
And our children will enjoy the future we’ll be giving.
*Excerpts courtesy of my travel blog. More information on my trip to Ground Zero can be found here.