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.
Watch LIVE coverage of memorial events in New York here.
Here’s an excerpt from Never Forget: An Oral History of September 11. A must read.
On the morning of September 11, I was on floor 105, tower 1. I had an 8 a.m. meeting set up with a client. He was bringing by some tech people to do some due diligence on our technology company called E-Speed. I get to work usually around seven, seven-fifteen. At eight, the client called to tell me they were running late. And I said fine. But I reminded him to bring photo ID downstairs. Ever since the last terrorist attack in ’93, the building requires photo ID downstairs. He’s been there before, so he knew the drill.
He said, “Fine. No problem.”
At 8:40, I get a phone call from the security desk downstairs, asking me if I’m expecting visitors. I said yes. “Well, they’re here,” they said. “But one of them forgot their ID.”
I’m 105 flights up. The commute to get downstairs takes about five minutes, especially around that time. So I’m annoyed, obviously, because I have to go down now to sign these people in after I just told them to bring ID. I look at this desk assistant across from me, thinking maybe she’ll help out and go down, but she’s on the phone. She’s also about eight months pregnant. She’s a few weeks from maternity leave and she’s on the phone talking to a friend and she’s on a website looking at bassinets and cribs. A very nice girl expecting her first child. So how lazy am I? I decide to go myself. …
… I take these two elevator rides down. I take the elevator from 105 to 78, change, and take the express down to the ground. I got down to the lobby. Our elevator banks actually face the visitors’ gallery. And I started walking over to the visitors’ gallery, I’d say it’s about thirty yards, and they’re standing there waiting for me. And I remember yelling, “Which one of you knuckleheads forgot your ID?”
And as I say this, you hear this really loud screeching sound. I turn around and it’s kind of coming from the elevators. So I run away from it, like ten steps, and look back. And the elevators are free-falling. Then, from the middle elevator bank, not the one I came down on, but from the middle one, a huge fireball explodes in the lobby. This huge fireball is coming right toward me. People got incinerated. And I remember just looking at this thing, not feeling scared, but just sad because I knew I was going to die. But as quickly as it came toward me, it actually sucked back in on itself, and it was gone. It left a lot of smoke and everything was blown out, all the glass and revolving doors leading into the shopping area. All I felt was a big wave of heat come over me, like when you put your face too close to a fireplace. My customer and my general counsel and I just ran out. The three of us ran over the overpass to where the Financial Center is. We went down to where the marina is, where the yachts are. And that’s when we found out what happened, that a plane had hit the building.
I looked up and saw this big gaping hole. I said, “What’s that falling out of the window?”
My general counsel looks at me like I’m nuts. And he says, “That’s people jumping out.” …
Cantor Fitzgerald had four floors in the North Tower — 101, 103, 104, and 105. Nobody got out on those floors. Everyone who was upstairs perished. There were a lot of phone calls to wives and husbands at around nine o’clock saying good-bye, as though they knew they were going to die.
Real Patriots of America posted this late last night. Id like to post it again so that others may get the chance to see just exactly whats going on over in the Mediterranean region due to the Syria Civil War and the imminent American intervention.