I spoke to a woman from Tennessee this morning who came to Ground Zero with her fellow church members on 9/12/2001. She and her church members cooked hot food under the Brooklyn Bridge and brought it to the responders at Ground Zero every day. She stayed for approximately one week volunteering near Ground Zero. Today, she is fighting breast cancer caused by the toxins she breathed in the immediate aftermath of the WTC tragedy. Her inspiring story about her selfless work after 9/11/2001 is quite common. I hear one almost every day. Americans since 9/11 have really come together to help the victims, responders and families.
Despite the passage of 17 years, the pictures of that fateful day are still seared in my memories. I cannot imagine how those who lost loved ones on 9/11/2001 survived their grief and handled their anger at the terrorists. I also cannot imagine how the families of many hero first responders have coped with the 9/11 illnesses and deaths of their loved ones. Unless we have walked in their shoes, we are all but caring and empathetic observers. Yet the American spirit cannot and will not ever be tarnished by such events. We are resilient, strong and proud. The reaction of all Americans coming together after 9/11 was one of our country’s finest hours.
Like most of us, I remember exactly where I was on the morning of September 11th, 2001. I was shocked and frightened by what I saw on TV and heard on the radio. My children were at nursery school and my wife was at work. I called my wife and we quickly decided to leave work and pick up the kids not knowing what may happen next. Then I started calling my family in the New York area to make sure they were OK and that hopefully they did not have friends who lost loved ones. Unfortunately, we heard too many potential sad stories that night and more the next day. As the week went on, my family, like so many others, took it one day at a time knowing our world would never be the same. The last 17 years have only proven that point.
On this day of solemn remembrance, let us all remember all the 9/11 victims but also the great resilience of our Nation and the American people who make us proud every day. God bless our United States of America.