A year prior to 9/11, I had flown to New York with a friend who worked for United Airlines. The plane flew right over lower Manhattan. The World Trade Center was majestic, the view was clear, and the day was sunny and bright. That was the last time I ever saw the towers. I remember what a beautiful view it was of New York City.
One year after the attack I was in Europe visiting several countries with some friends. In a small bar in a tiny town in Germany, a niece of a friend we were visiting cried softly as she told me that her father had died in one of those buildings. It reminded me that the impact was felt throughout the world...and that it's truly a much smaller world than we realize.
A couple years later, on another visit to New York, I walked around lower Manhattan, circling the still empty hole where the buildings had been. All around the fenced off area were signs and written memorials posted by friends and family that had lost loved ones in the attack. The Statue of Liberty sat nearby out in the water, seemingly lonely and quiet - especially in a place as great as New York City. The day brought drizzling rain, along with colder temperatures and strong winds. It seemed rather appropriate for a very somber fall afternoon.
I remember how I had planned to relocate to Boston three months before the terrorist attack. Of all the states I had lived in growing up, Massachusetts was my favorite. But, as 9/11 took lives, it also instilled fear and trepidation at the time. The jobs that had been offered were pulled back, and a solid job offer back in the Midwest - where most of my belongings were still being stored - regrettably drew me back. Driving west, with such disappointment and hesitation, made me want to take the fork in the road to the right toward New York City, instead of continuing west. When I got as far as Chicago a couple days later, I looked up at the then Sear's Tower as the highway wrapped around it - realizing its height compared to the two fallen buildings in New York City.
Twelve years later, after way too much delay, the tallest building of the new World Trade Center is taking shape where the rest will follow. It isn't the same, nor will it ever be the same. But, at least there is something there again signifying the country's strength and perseverance. Because despite all the loss, all the disappointments, and all the pain, it did not destroy our spirit. And it did not destroy our resolve or fight to move forward. And, most importantly, it did not even begin to destroy our hope.
A picture of what the new World Trade Center Site will look like when everything is finished by 2015.
Almost completed is One World Trade Center (left). It's the tallest structure in the United States.
(courtesy of nydailynews.com)