It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years since that fateful day in September 2001. In some ways it seems like yesterday, in others it seems like a lifetime ago.
Like most people, I was both shocked and scared about what was happening that day.
Now looking back, we know what happened; back then, we had no clue what was going to occur next. To me that was the scariest part of the whole ordeal.
Was that day the beginning of the end? Was the world going to be thrown into a world war? Or was it the beginning of the “End of Times?” We all thought it, but few actually said it at the time.
Those first few hours of that day the world was transfixed on the events that were unfolding in front of our very eyes. It was one of those situations where you don’t want to look; however, you were drawn into the idea that someone had actually attacked the United States.
At the time there was a renewed sense of patriotism. People became outraged by what they had seen and wanted something to be done about such an atrocity.
Thousands of people went to New Your City to help; doctors, police officers, EMTs and firefighters all wanted to do something. Most of us felt useless as to ways to show our support.
Volunteerism increased and many young people joined the service because of 9/11.
I made a pilgrimage to New York City myself. I decided I wanted to write a story about it as seen through the eyes of the people that lived there.
I interviewed a dozen people around the area known as “Ground Zero.” Even though it had been about six-months since the planes had crashed into the Twin Towers, it was still so fresh in their minds.
It was a sobering experience for me as I stood at the platform they set up so that you could see the gaping hole where the towers once stood.
Some of the ones I talked to visited that spot every day, to be near where they had lost a loved one. All of the victims’ families were grieving in their own way. Thousands of flowers, memorabilia and pictures lined the fence around where the Twin Towers had once stood.
Across the country, people were pulled together by this horrible experience. No matter your political persuasion or your religious beliefs, we as a country had a common enemy: terrorism.
I remember thinking at the time that this renewed patriotism would only last as long as the cold hard facts of that day stayed fresh in our memories. It seems now that those days are long gone and the truth about Sept. 11th is slowly seeping away from us.
Now we are more divided than at any time in my lifetime. We see America from a different perspective than we did 20 years ago.
That change didn’t happen overnight, the changes have been coming for a long time and are driven by mostly politics.
I remember Sept. 11, 2001, as a horrible day, I remember the falling buildings and the repeated videos of the planes flying into the Twin Towers. I remember the feelings I had back then and that I still have today.
I also remember people telling me about Pearl Harbor and the effect it had on them as well.
We as a country need to be drawn back together, with a common goal. Maybe that is in our future. I just hope it doesn’t take another attack to bring us to our senses.
Byron Spires is a retired newspaper editor. He has written dozens of short stories and serials in the Havana Herald. He recently published “The Curious Life of Marci Bell” in a series of three books. You can email him at email@example.com.