|September 11, 2001. This date will forever be burned into memory. As much as I've tried to move past it, I have yet to find the resolve to do so. It was the perfect fall-like morning. There was a refreshing coolness in the air, birds were chirping and squirrels frolicking - a picture-perfect moment in time. But here I was experiencing that moment, not aware of what the day had in store.
On the way to the city with the thousands of my fellow transit jockeys, I was oblivious to what was happening aboveground. With hip-hop tunes barely audible in my headphones, I overheard a young woman screaming loudly, "THEY BOMBED THE PENTAGON!!" My heart dropped immediately and my mind was racing. We were literally stuck between stations as the news traveled from person to panicked person. Since many on the train were headed to Arlington for work, the news was perhaps more bone-chilling to them. Although I wasn't near the mammoth military building, I was close enough to worry. During the walk to my building, an exodus - more like an evacuation - was underway. Every employee in that particular part of the city flooded the Metro train stations in moments. In the distance, I could see the smoke billowing from the mighty Pentagon. Shortly after, I heard news that a plane rammed directly into New York's World Trade Center - the first of two strikes against one of the World's tallest structures.
When the news of the second plane attack became public, it was quite clear that someone was sending a message - a "war" was born. My natural reaction was to find all my relatives and hope they were far from harm's way, although I was closer to the carnage than they ever would be. There was a scuffle nearby between four American men (two white and two black) and two men of Arab descent. They were starting to beat the two Arab men when I stepped in to help them. I was met with a few blows and I just walked away - curse words flying about me at random. Everything was amazingly haywire. I then embarked on a three-hour journey that normally takes just 45 minutes using our subway train system. I arrived home and all the television networks were covering the situation as expected. The images were ghastly and constant. Perhaps the nearly non-stop media about the bombings has permeated all of our senses to the point of numbness. Certainly many of us weren't as affected as others yet everyone talked about the "attack on America". There were discussions of varying types:
"What would you do if it were you as a hostage?"
"How can this happen to a Super Power?"
"I'm leaving America for another, safer country!"
Black or White, young or old and rich or poor - we were all stunned to the core. At that point, everything else didn't matter heavily. Even the much-hyped music releases of the day were not important. Who could think about Jay-Z's latest CD at a time like this? The usually stoic newscasters and reporters displayed obvious concern, horror and fear. Their faces and voices wore the aura of dread. I would like to think that every person in this country felt very mortal and thankful to be alive at that moment. For at least three days after "911" (as the day is referred to), I was too saddened to write anything. How could I go on with my usual routine with all that's happened?
I am trying. And it is difficult.
I feel for the families and friends that are reeling from this. I support the country's efforts of rescue and solidarity. I am proud that many in the sports and entertainment community have turned all their collective energies to aid the folks in both New York and DC. I am even impressed by the sweeping patriotism. I just hope that it is sustained. I don't want this togetherness to be temporary, although that very well may be the case. How soon then are we to expect the return of cold stares and shoulders? How soon is the next tragic event to come? There is now a definite shift in priorities for all citizens of this country. My issues of late bills, minor aches and the like seem unimportant in comparison to the events of this past Tuesday. Whatever I was worried about since then hasn't had my full attention in the last few days. I'm certain many others are experiencing the same ordeal, the same sense of helplessness. Existing in this state cannot be our only option. We will heal. We will be whole again.
I wish I had something more poignant to offer in this week's column, dear readers. I do apologize. I send my most sincere prayers and positive energies to all of you and your loved ones. Let's get it together, family.
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