As Americans, we will always remember where we were fourteen years ago this morning, when the lives of every single one of us was changed forever.
I was walking down the hallway, past the office, at the school where I was teaching. I heard commotion and went in to find everyone gathered around the television. I walked in just in time to watch, dumbfounded, as the first tower went down. Like everyone else in the country who was near a television, I was horrified, then…terrified.
Our school closed for the day, we got all the kids sent home/picked up early, as calmly and with as little panic as possible. Thankfully, my son Jake was a preschool student at the school. Almost immediately after seeing that building go down, I ran to his room and took him out. I did not let him leave my side for the remainder of that day. Perhaps even for the remainder of the year. We drove toward home. I was afraid to go to our house. We live close to a major military base…my husband had to reassure me over the phone and tell me to go home as I drove aimlessly around. Once home, we did not leave our house for several days. During all of this process I whispered, and smiled and tried to protect my three year old son from the story, from the wicked truth that the bubble of safety we live in, could be burst at any time.
We all know where we were at that moment, how we handled this tragedy, we remember the minute details of every action that we performed that day. Most of us, like me, were the very fortunate ones, the ones that had no family or friends in NYC or on airplanes that terrible morning. Some of us were not so fortunate. Then there are the most unlucky among us, those that perished that morning. People like Benjamin Keefe Clark, a chef on floor 98 South Tower, that has been credited with saving 100+ lives, Officer Moira Smith, the only female police officer to lose her life on that day, mother of a two year old daughter. Steven Salzano of Ladder Co. 132 who spent the morning knocking fire and helping to guide people out of the North Tower before being crushed with six other company men in front of the South Tower as it collapsed. David Brandhorst, a three year old boy killed with his adoptive parents aboard United Airlines Flight #175, which flew into the South Tower. Joseph Maggitti, a Christian family man from my town, Abingdon MD, who was in the North Tower for a meeting. Jeremy Glick, one of three men who fought back against terrorists that were armed with box-cutters aboard United Airlines Flight 93. There were 2,977 lives lost that day. Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, grandchildren, grandparents, brothers, sisters. Bank executives, janitors, waiters, artists, public safety professionals.
We Americans were all victims that day, we all lost something. Some lost people, people that they loved more than life itself, the worst of sacrifices, irreplaceable. Everyone else lost something different. We lost our security. It was taken from us and was replaced by fear, worry, uncertainty.
Nothing can erase the damage that we as a country incurred or the pain we endured…but unlike the victims of this terrible event, we have the OPPORTUNITY to move on, to move forward. Everyone talks abut the way things were in the months right after 9/11, how we all has a sense of community and comradery. I think it would be great for things to be like that all of the time, but lets face it, Americans, for the most part, are too busy living the dream to worry about anyone elses dream. What we HAVE learned however; is that we CAN come together when things go South. We can, we HAVE and we will again.
Time has healed many wounds, but just like a wound to the body, sometimes when the healing is complete, things are different. Perhaps there is a residual limp, or a loss of range of motion. We don’t let those things stop us from getting up and moving, just like we haven’t let this tragedy that happened fourteen years ago keep us from living LIFE. We have overcome. And while we will occasionally look back, and remember, it will never stop us from moving forward.
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The following statistics were taken from The Encyclopedia of 9/11
The initial numbers are indelible: 8:46 a.m. and 9:02 a.m. Time the burning towers stood: 56 minutes and 102 minutes. Time they took to fall: 12 seconds. From there, they ripple out.
- Total number killed in attacks in New York: 2,996
- Number of firefighters and paramedics killed: 343
- Number of NYPD officers: 23
- Number of Port Authority police officers: 37
- Number of WTC companies in the towers that lost people: 128
- Number of employees who died in Tower One: 1,402
- Number of employees who died in Tower Two: 614
- Number of employees lost at Cantor Fitzgerald: 658
- Number of U.S. troops killed in Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,343
- Number of nations whose citizens were killed in attacks: 115
- Ratio of men to women who died: 3:1
- Age of the greatest number who died: between 35 and 39
- Bodies found “intact”: 291
- Remains found: 21,906
- Number of families who got no remains: 1,717
- Estimated units of blood donated to the New York Blood Center: 36,000
- Total units of donated blood actually used: 258
- Number of people who lost a spouse or partner in the attacks: 1,609
- Estimated number of children who lost a parent: 3,051
- Percentage of Americans who knew someone hurt or killed in the attacks: 20
- FDNY retirements, January–July 2001: 274
- FDNY retirements, January–July 2002: 661
- Number of firefighters on leave for respiratory problems by January 2002: 300
- Number of funerals attended by Rudy Giuliani in 2001: 200
- Number of FDNY vehicles destroyed: 98
- Tons of debris removed from site: 1.8 million
- Days fires continued to burn after the attack: 99
- Jobs lost in New York owing to the attacks: 146,100
- Days the New York Stock Exchange was closed: 6
- Point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average when the NYSE reopened: 684.81
- Days after 9/11 that the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan: 26
- Total number of civil rights complaints reported to the Council on American-Islamic Relations nationwide from 2002 to 2008: 12,962
- Economic loss to New York in month following the attacks: $105 billion
- Estimated cost of cleanup: $600 million
- Total FEMA money spent on the emergency: $970 million
- Estimated amount donated to 9/11 charities: $1.4 billion
- Estimated amount of insurance paid worldwide related to 9/11:$40.2 billion
- Estimated amount of money needed to overhaul lower-Manhattan subways: $7.5 billion
- Amount of money granted by U.S. government to overhaul lower-Manhattan subways: $4.55 billion
- Estimated amount of money raised for funds dedicated to NYPD and FDNY families: $500 million
- Percentage of total charity money raised going to FDNY and NYPD families: 25
- Average benefit already received by each FDNY and NYPD widow: $1 million
- Percentage increase in law-school applications from 2001 to 2002: 17.9
- Percentage increase in Peace Corps applications from 2001 to 2002: 40
- Percentage increase in CIA applications from 2001 to 2002: 50
- Number of songs Clear Channel Radio considered “inappropriate” to play after 9/11: 150
- Number of mentions of 9/11 at the 2002 Oscars: 26
- Apartments in lower Manhattan eligible for asbestos cleanup:23,000
- Number of apartments whose residents have requested cleanup and testing: 4,167
- Number of Americans who changed their 2001 holiday-travel plans from plane to train or car: 1.4 million
- Estimated number of New Yorkers suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder as a result of 9/11: 422,000
Photo Credit: jwcelement.deviantart.com