Ten years ago...
It was early. I'm not, have never been, and will never be a morning person. I was sitting at my desk at a financial research company, nursing a Coke, and trying to get past my usual fuzzy, grumpy mood as my brain kicked into a higher gear. My co-worker and I had recently finished getting out the first article of the morning and were already scanning the financial news headlines and previous day's options data as we searched for the topics we would write about the rest of the day.
We sat on a large, open floor with a bunch of traders, who were filing in to their desks with their coffee and copies of the Wall Street Journal. They were talking about potential trading opportunities, random personal events, and the usual chatter about morning rush hour traffic. Behind the buzz of conversation, the TV at the other end of the floor droned on about events that would likely move the market that day. It was a typical day.
And then the news hit.
A plane had hit a tower. There were no details about the size of the plane, how many were hurt, or even why. And no one uttered the belief that it was intentional. People wandered over to the TV and stood, waiting for more details to be released. After a time, things drifted back to normal. It was an anomaly. Nothing more.
We had some time before the market opened, so I wandered down to the TV to see what pictures they had for myself. I was standing there alone, watching. A commentator was talking with the towers in the background. I watched as a plane moved into view and I remember thinking, "how could they have not closed the airspace around the towers after what happened?" I watched it turn and I was in complete denial until it hit the second tower.
I gasped and my knees nearly buckled as I leaned against the cubical behind me. Somehow, I called out to the rest of the staff on the floor, telling them what happened. People rushed over to the TV and we all watched in horrified silence, minds numb, hearts aching, stomachs churning. My mind got stuck on questions such as "How?" and "Why?". My brain couldn't comprehend anyone willingly doing such a thing. How could anyone hurt total strangers who were doing nothing more heinous than going to work, vacation, or just visiting someone? My mind still struggles with these ideas despite being given answers as to why.
The rest of the day and the next week grow blurry in my memory, filled with an almost non-stop drone of TV commentators, horrible pictures, sadness, and flickering glimmers of hope and resilience.
I didn't lose anyone I know that day, but I still don't often talk about the events of September 11, 2001. My life is wrapped up in many fantasy worlds of my own creation where horrible and violent things frequently happen, but I can keep a distance from it because I know none of it is real. That day was a harsh reminder of exactly how evil man can be.
But the most important thing to remember is what happened in the days following those sad events. We have to remember how peoples everywhere pulled together in amazing ways to support each other through physical efforts, money, food, and even just a perfectly timed hug. We have to remember all the emergency workers, military service men and women, and the wonderful individuals who stepped forward in this time of need.
We are strongest when we are united.