Even though I have lived in Florida most of my life, I will always consider myself a New Yorker. What happened on 9/11 will always have an impact on me, especially when my father took me to see the World Trade Center.
I will never forget where I was or what I was doing on 9/11. I was in the United States Army, stationed in Germany. I was part of a group of soldiers who were heading out on an afternoon run when all of a sudden, a soldier told us something happened to America and recommended that we go to the dining facility ASAP. As we walked in and sat down we saw the second plane hitting the WTC. We watched, eyes wide open in shock and disbelief. There was so much emotion going on that day, especially being so far from home. Our commander called us back for a big brigade formation. He told us this was the real thing and our company was assigned to be the quick reaction force of the base.
Twenty years later, I still remember that day, and I still watch the different footage, documentaries, and media shows. Sept. 11 will always be a sad, emotional day, as well as even a patriotic one. And here’s why. Losing about 3,000 people and the World Trade Center showed me how fragile we are, that even the best country in the world can still fall.
The World Trade Center was an iconic building. Its greatness was such that any person in the world would recognize what that building meant to us, as New Yorkers and as Americans. But the loss of life matters more. Those we lost were regular, everyday people who went about their own lives. They were not soldiers ready for combat, they were civilians going to work. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters and sons. Thinking that this was just another day. Instead, evil took their lives.
This day also reminds me of how patriotic Americans can be. The people on Flight 93 sacrificed their lives by fighting the terrorists and taking the plane down before it hit the Capitol. These brave men and women should always be remembered as heroes, along with the frontline workers who went to Ground Zero trying to help people.
This day can be used to unite our people. Because for a short moment in time, all Americans stood together. The victims of 9/11 were not asked their political affiliation — they were American.
I hope one day we can stand together again.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that 3,000 Americans died in the attack on the World Trade Center. In fact, about 3,000 people died. Thanks to our sharp-eyed Twitter readers for pointing out our mistake, which has been corrected as of 9/13.
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