9/11 Reflections from a Millennial Perspective
Every year, in the days leading up to the anniversary of 9/11, I take quite a bit of time to reflect. I think about the desperation those trapped in the towers felt not knowing their fate, the horror of those on the ground after realizing the gravity of what was happening, the overwhelmed and just as terrified first responders trying to figure out where to direct their attention as so many people pleaded for their help, the grief of the families who lost loved ones and the PTSD and trauma experienced by those who did survive.
I think about the infamous “Dust Lady” – Marcy Borders – who ended up developing a severe drug and alcohol addiction as a result of that day and then died of stomach cancer just six years ago. I think about her, like so many other survivors, who succumbed to similar illnesses stemming from those smoldering towers.
I think about the other illness that plagued our communities, the Islamophobia, the generalizations of just one religious and cultural sect, that made us fearful of our own neighbors and caused us to abandon the ideals we held so dearly as being the “melting pot” of the world.
I think about the warning signs, the precursors, that led up to that fateful day, between the 1996 WTC bombing and the 2000 USS Cole bombing, and wonder what could have been done to prevent such a nightmare. I think about Rick Rescorla, head of security at Morgan Stanley at the time, who anticipated another attack and made evacuation plans accordingly. He even had the stairwells remodeled to become bigger and brighter for this reason.
I think about the valiant men who attacked the hijackers on Flight 93 and ultimately averted what was supposed to be yet another attack in DC – Tom Burnett, Mark Bingham, Jeremy Glick, and Todd Beamer – the latter of who last words heard were, “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.”
I think about how this single day renewed a sense of patriotism in people and inspired so many, in my generation especially, to join the military, how this day brought out the best of humanity and how we remembered and redefined the meaning of selflessness and bravery.
I am in the middle of watching 9/11: One Day in America and I am blown away by all the stories I have heard thus far from survivors that I had not heard about before. With that came all the same emotions as if 9/11 had occurred just yesterday. As you can see, I have done a lot of thinking, but most importantly, I think that the unity and compassion we collectively experienced and expressed 20 years ago could use some rekindling because we are the United States, we are a resilient people and we are so much greater than the things that divide us.