Stories from 9/11

We were driving home from a long day in Manhattan when we saw the lights. Every year on the anniversary, these two massive beams shoot up to the sky to remind everyone what happened on that tragic day, 15 years ago. My aunt, who was driving us back to Long Island, started sharing stories about what happened to her and the people around her.

There was a co-worker whose son called the hospital panicking. Her father suddenly collapsed from having a heart attack. He was laying on the floor and needed help. Nobody was at home because they were all at work. My aunt said they suspected that he panicked when he saw the news about the planes crashing because they knew someone who worked in the area. She rushed out of work and left for Queens but there were no trains operating because of the attacks. She had to walk to Queens from Manhattan with everyone else who were fleeing the city. Desperate, she explained her plight to a policeman who was stationed on the bridge and he was kind enough to drive her across.

She didn’t make it though. By the time she got home, her father had already passed away.

Many nurses became widows that day. Many of them were married to firemen; the very same ones that risked their lives to rescue others. My aunt said that many people choose to be firefighters in New York City, something that truly struck me. I don’t know the benefits of working as one but to willingly choose a profession that requires you to risk your life for complete strangers left me speechless. And sad, for the families who were robbed of their loved ones. And proud, of all the people who tried to save those trapped or injured from those merciless suicide bombers.

My aunt, a nurse, said that it was mid-morning when her supervisor came around and briefed her that they needed to prepare all patients on the floor. Everyone currently at the ER would be moved to the upper floors even if they were full to make room for any victims of the terrorist attacks. All the hospitals in New York City did this. They were ready to take in anyone who was hurt.

Nobody came.

I thought this was an exaggeration but she said so herself. Nobody came because they had died from the collapse of the Twin Towers. Nearly 3000 lives were lost that day with 6000 others injured (I googled it).

People outside of the United States would think that everything is back-to-normal, peachy again. They’re still top dog in the free world and they have celebrities like Kim Kardashian or Kylie Jenner posting all kinds of “the good life” photos all over social media. And I admit, I used to be one of them. I don’t know what it is about being an outsider but there really is this concept of the American Dream that lives on even after the 2008 Financial Crisis and the 9/11 attacks. But now that I find myself here on this fateful day, I see New York City in a new light. I wasn’t around during the attacks but I feel for these people; people who are still visibly hurting from this tragic event. Though 2016 has been no better than back then, I’m still hoping and praying for peace and a real solution to all these attacks. It’s easy to just be cynical about the hopelessness of humanity (especially with the upcoming elections) but I’m still praying for a miracle.

 

*Photo by Ralf Lagleva

 

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