9/11- We’ll Never Forget!
Rafael Román Martel
We will never forget September 11, 2001. The contrast of a cloudless day and the fire and smoke of the towers and the death occurring within them, visible from our homes, and the sense of frustration and incomprehension that plagued us.
The victims of 911 had not attacked anyone. Most were members of the so-called minorities, many Hispanics, African Americans, Muslims, etc. The murderers did not take that into account, those that were dragged by hate. And they provoked a united nation, the awakening of a movement that today is more alive than ever.
Perhaps they believed that fear would work here.
The city is replete with residents, tourists, more alive than ever at any time you visit. The respect towards firefighters, police, and public servants has been reinvigorated. Many gave their lives and today many are chronically affected by the chemical residue that scattered throughout the city after the collapse of the Twin Towers.
I will never forget the alarmed eyes of a good friend who traveled with me from Elizabeth, NJ, that day, Tony Pacheco, where we taught and a trip that we usually made in fifteen minutes cost us nine hours. The world had paralyzed around our homes. Standing in the middle of Routes 1 and 9- completely jammed for hours- people clearly saw the smoke and fire in the distance. “What happened? What could have happened? How did this happen?” they asked one another between large intervals of silence. Because even though the media had time and again warned of the possibility of a terrorist attack no one knew exactly what had provoked it. And much less was the suspicion of its infectious intention, the diseased machinery that had achieved such a disaster.
We didn’t suspect that that day was the beginning of a new era. It was the end of innocence in the freest country in the world. Nothing was ever the same again.
And it was the beginning of war.
We reflect over what the Israelis experience on a daily basis under the attacks of those godless fanatics without conscience.
We reflect on the free will and calm we employ in traveling, in feeling safe. However, the principal objective of the terrorists had failed. Shock and anguish we reflected on the faces of the residents of this country, but in New York, terror never worked. We united like never before. The world united and today New York is the Mecca of Freedom, a place to where men, women and children from all corners of the world make their pilgrimages. Yes, those that hate did much damage, they left 10,000 children orphaned as a result of their rage but awakened a sense of unity that had never been manifested in such a form, not even when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
Today New York is a true symbol of liberty. It is the city that everyone wants to go to, not one that everyone wants to flee from.
Those that fell in the Towers were not warriors, nor bloodthirsty imperialists; they were simple, hard-working people, family men, pregnant women, young adults that had a future open to them as a result of their work and effort, children that died in the arms of flames in a day care.
That cannot be forgotten.
Here we are crying for innocent people.
These victims had not gone anywhere to throw bombs or plant terror.
They will not be forgotten.
I am against wars. They are the plague of humanity, but to defend oneself is not a plan of war, it is an exercise of survival. Those that tear their clothing and strike themselves with chains in the name of their cause in the Middle East perhaps accompanied those that danced in the streets when innocents preferred to commit suicide, jumping from the highest floors before perishing in the flames that never got to understand. Here we suffered. And suffer.
The hate of the terrorists triggered a wave of love. From terror sprung courage, the spirit of sacrifice, unity.
This is also incomprehensible for the assassins.
For the majority of the world, 911 was a cold, unexpected hit. For those that hated this- the best country in the world- it was a party. For us, who live barely minutes away from Manhattan, 911 is a symbol of unity and support against all who confront terrorism on Earth. Terrorism works in godless societies without a sense of direction. In the United States, it has failed.
“Any day now they’ll return”, I have heard in infinite occassions, but the fear they intended to sow has manifested in a reverse manner. There are more people on the streets of New York that in any other stage of its history. There is more respect for authority. There exists a greater sense of unity, of humanity. Our sense of mission against terrorism is alive.
This is perhaps the most relevant homage that we can pay to the victims of 911.