(ThyBlackMan.com) For the 2,977 people who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, no ethnic identifiers are necessary. They were simply, Americans.
The mere mention of 9/11 prompts a mixture of emotions, ranging from crying to silence, and everything in between. In recalling that dreadful Tuesday 16 years ago, instead of commemorating the anniversary with a scathing commentary on terrorism. We remember Sept. 11, 2001, in real time.
As daybreak loomed over the terrain; a volley of fire and smoke shattered the serenity of the United States, and when it was over, Americans were blasted from their security blankets, confused and shaken to the core.
For 24 hours disbelief hung in the air as fear rotated between the earth and the moon. And in the billowing smoke surrounded by flames, Americans recoiled in terror, as the World Trade Center was reduced to rubble.
As the debauchery unfolded, the Statue of Liberty must have blinked her eyes in disbelief, as death and debris rained down on the masses. Thousands watched from below as people jumped to their death. Many turned away, traumatized, while others looked on, anguish etched on their faces. Tears for America. Fear for loved ones. Madness unlike any we’ve experienced before. But how could this happen? Moreover, how did this nightmare come to past?
The assault began at 8:45 a.m., and went into high gear 20 minutes later, when a second plane torpedoed the massive building. And the terror continued, as a third plane crashed into the Pentagon, followed by a fourth crash in West Pennsylvania. The next day, newspapers hit the stands with the front – page headlines: “U.S. Attacked,” “A New Day of Infamy,” and so it went.
In recalling that “Day of Infamy,” we remember the images; searing pictures embedded in our psyche. The first snapshot is the plane plowing through the north tower of the World Trade Center. We imagine the terror the victims must have felt. Stunned and paralyzed with fear, they are told by a voice over a loud speaker to “Stay where you are. This is a secure area.” Then comes the second plane, and the scene fades to horror unlike no other.
And who could forget the couple who plummeted to their death? With the searing heat moving closer and closer, what thoughts went through their mind as they clasped hands and plunged to the pavement? Did they pray? Did thoughts of loved ones penetrate their brain as death reared its ugly head? And what about the heroes? Fire fighters and police officers who lost their lives trying to save others. It has been estimated that 60 police officers perished, along with 343 firefighters. And then there were the civilians who gave blood, whispered words of encouragement and massaged wounded limbs, mutilated and splattered with blood.
In terms of human life the cost is difficult to estimate. According to sources, the actual number of people killed is estimated at 2, 2997. As for the World Trade Center, can it be restored to its original grandeur, or will it remain a shrine to those who lost their lives? No one knows. But one thing is certain, it now belongs to the ages.
Emotionally, this blatant act of terrorism changed us. But the question is, how much? When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, everyone said we would never be the same. The same was said about the Kennedy Assassination 22 years later. And now this. Oh sure we will recover and move on. But we can no longer take it for granted that America is the haven we assumed it was before September 11, 2001.
What happened to our innocence? Our desire to be safe in the sky and in the workplace? I don’t know. But as the country looks toward healing, our hearts are filled with pain. But even in the midst of tragedy we look toward hope that shining harpoon that keeps us going in times of adversity. And so it is only fitting that I end this commentary with the simple statement, God Bless America, My Home Sweet Home.
Staff Writer; Peggy S. Butler