9/11 … 11 Years Later

 

 

My day starts at 4:00 a.m. every morning.  You might wonder why in God’s sweet universe do I awaken each morning before the crack of dawn?  Well, I have my reasons and they aren’t anything convenient to my daily life. 

 

 

 

What can I say?  I am now a New Yorker.  (Sorry, Dad.) 

I live the life of a New Yorker.  Even though I was implanted here in August of 2000, I became a full-fledged, bona fide New Yorker on September 11, 2001.  A day that would change how people would view the world.  A day that we would realize that we are human beings here on this Earth to survive whatever and whichever tragedies come our way.

 

Many of you who know me offline, know about my background and some of the “little” or not so little reasons why I immigrated here.  I have a story beyond anyone that I’ve told online.  I came to New York not to escape my family back in the Midwest, God forbid, but to come to New York to accomplish my many dreams in so many ways.  Some I have already accomplished the help and kindness of God.  Some others I am still in the middle of accomplishing.  What I will tell you is, that what made me accomplish my dreams so far sums down to one word:

 

SURVIVAL. 

 

When I came to New York I came here as if I had left Europe during the 1800s or Syria in the 1930s looking for a new homeland – a homeland to grow and prosper just like many who had passed through Ellis Island.  I came here without my family, on minimum funds, and I was starting out in a new community (talk about a major culture clash from where I came from), new job, not knowing nor trusting anyone as much as I was used to due to the size of the neighborhoods.  I was a fish out of water.  My mission here: to better myself in so many ways looking to start a new career, finish school, improve myself religiously, and most of all, to be my own “independent country” so to speak.  I must say that looking back, even though I have so much yet to accomplish, I have accomplished a lot and am surprised I have survived this far.  But it is only just the beginning. 

The day I realized I was a NY’er

 

Strength comes in so many levels.  I had been in New York for a year and one month and I was coming back from an important meeting in Brooklyn that night.  I was on the F train (outsiders call it a “subway”) line where it goes above ground.  I remember we were stuck for a while underground as there was a disruption in the train traffic that evening, however, the evening was all worth it as we eventually proceeded above ground and the sky was clear as far as the eye could see of the NYC-Manhattan skyline in all it’s glory. 

 

 

 

I thought to myself as I gazed at it, “I’ve been here a year … I think I might make it (without having to move back.)

 

That night was during the days where I was able to sleep in until 10 a.m. the next morning … every morning.  (I didn’t start my work day until 3 p.m. during those days.)

 

Then came…

The wake up call….

 

Many ask, “Where we you on 9-11?”  My answer was, is, and always will be,

 

“Sleeping.” 

 

Yes, I was sleeping as my wake up time was usually 10am, but I had arisen earlier that morning as I had a bad dream for some reason the night before and it ended with the sound of a gunshot.  From what I remember of the dream, I was being chased and someone was shooting at me.  Dreams tell so many things which are hidden.. but this one told me one thing: It was time to wake up and start my day.  (Not necessarily on a good note.)

Upon logging on to America Online that morning to check e-mail, I saw the welcome screen with a photo that looked like something from a Hollywood film. 

 

 

But it wasn’t.  It was a horrific reality.   The next thing I knew family from out of town was calling me to ask if I was ok, at best, alive.

 

The night before I rest assured myself that I was safe, that I was going to make it.  That day I was more insecure about my safety as the day I had arrived.  It wasn’t only me.  It was about 9 million, if not billions of other people.  We were all sharing the same feelings, emotions, words, etc.  We were all now like a fish out of water.  Not only was every New Yorker sharing my experience, I was now beginning to share the New York experience.  On September 11th, 2001, it didn’t matter what your make-up was nor your religious beliefs, on that day you were a New Yorker and a citizen of the United States.  It was on September 11th, that I was proud to be a part of the New York City that came together and did everything we could to help any of the victims, their families, and to help rebuild what was taken away from us: our dreams, our successes, our way of life as a free democratic western society.  To show the failures of destruction, hatred, and how our society shows that of prosperity, breakthroughs in science, technology, and commerce.

My reason for coming here.. 

 

This is, as we all know, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of … There’s nothing you can’t do…

 

 

Even though I was at home asleep, one of my best friends escaped death /serious injury that morning.  He escaped this, Thank God, as he is a late sleeper.  His unsuccessful cause proved successful that morning when he missed his first train going into the city.  Before crossing Jamaica Bay on the later train, many commuters on board spotted the pillars of smoke coming up from the skyline beyond JFK Airport.  Luckily, someone had a way of finding out what had happened.  He debarked at the next stop and caught the next train going back to Far Rockaway. 

 

Many beyond this, were not so fortunate.  I saw the the movies.  No one could ever coax me again, not only as a human being, but as a human who operates aircraft in real life, to watch those movies again.  One month after that  fateful day, I decided to take a trip to downtown near the site.  I am a “see it to believe it” type of guy. 

 

 

The aromas of the unthinkable came to life.  The sites I saw became real.  It finally hit me.  It really happened.

 

Alicia also tells us that the streets are mean..  Yes, they are..  But my question is:

Why did it take a horrific, unthinkable event like this to get everyone to realize that being human meant being nice to one another and that the basis of survival was self-sacrifice and working together as a team?

This, ladies and gentleman was, is, and for as long as we remember 9-11 will be our wake-up call.

 

(Sorry no snooze button.)

Each year, now, we remember what happened on this day as a reminder that the only way we can overcome humanity is not only to wage war against the evil infidels who brought down our fellow human beings, our family, our community, our fellow aviation professionals through preventing future attacks, but also to supersede their horrific actions by improving the world and rebuilding as much as we can possible by giving to others, through education, through helping, through kindness, and through so many other ways.  Not only is this the best tribute we can make to the victims, the many blessed souls who perished without a trace, and those who assisted that fateful day, but to also show our strength, our joie de vivre (joy of living), and our raison d’être (reason for existence.) 

 

 

 

Never forget.

 

 

 

jeremy