September 11 has had extra meaning since 2001. It’s been 19 years since 2,983 people from 77 different countries died. A terrorist attack led to four planes crashing in the United States.
Those crashes were no accident.
I remember the day well. As my parents drove to Montreal from Orangeville, I sat at my computer. My hope had been to finish several journalism stories before my mom and dad arrived. I didn’t know about the attack until an editor told me after two of the four crashes took place.
I missed the news of American Airlines Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower at the World Trade Centre in New York at 8:46 a.m. Nor was I aware of United Airlines Flight 175 striking the South Tower 17 minutes later.
The North Tower fell fifty-six minutes later. American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon in Washington an hour later. I was oblivious.
My television went on just before United Flight 93 hit the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. My mom told me she heard the plane got shot down on the radio seconds after it happened. That news bulletin never repeated.
I joined the world in shock and fear as the North Tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m. on September 11, 2001. That evening, we called the families of friends who lived in New York. Were they okay? Could we help? My friends stayed safe, but not everyone was so lucky.
My reality hasn’t been the same since. Those of us who live in North America joined the rest of the world in recognizing that terrorists strike close to home. It’s no longer possible to get on a plane without thinking about who sits nearby. Idiosyncratic neighbours raise concerns fast, especially if they seem violent. Crossing the border, taking a plane. Everyone aims to make people feel secure with extra checks and paperwork.
While we no longer feel secure from the actions of too many terrorists, the site of the attack has become a beautiful memorial to the people we lost and their contributions.
We will never surrender.