Fifteen years has passed and for the first time this year I decided to watch a 9/11 documentary. In all these years I have not been able to bring myself to do so. I knew this was going to be emotional so I waited for everyone in my home to be asleep and began watching. It wasn’t long before the tears began streaming down my face. I watched survivors speak, and it brought back that day to me like it was yesterday – the fear, the saddness and the overwhelming deafening sound of the silence. Watching never before seen footage, I began to realize that without two unknown heros on that day my own mother and former husband would never of made it home. To the man who drove my mother home from the Queensboro Bridge, and to the man who steered the ferry from downtown NYC to NJ, my family thanks you and will remember you always as heroes. On that day, police, fireman and ordinary people in the face of danger emerged as heroes. In the sheer terror of the 9/11 tragedy, strangers holding strangers showed how as a people we can unite and overcome anything, together.
Whether you were at Ground Zero like my ex-husband or even in midtown Manhattan after the planes hit the towers, you needed to get out of NYC immediately. There were no subways running in or out of the city, buses also stopped running. NYC looked like a zombie movie with people completely dazed and thousands covered in dust and so many covered in blood walking, running through the streets. Some in shock, like my ex-husband, who did not attempt to leave NY at first. He actually walked 10 blocks away to an office before snapping out of it and realizing he had to get out of NYC.
All Mass transit stopped, leaving only two ways off Manhattan, by water or by foot over bridges. There were heroes born that day, that most of us have never realized are out there. They sacrificed without hesitation on that 9/11.
My ex-husband made it from Ground Zero to the water eventually. Ferries began evacuating panicked Survivors. There were thousands of people lined up trying desperately to get out of NYC. People crying and screaming out names of loved ones in hopes of finding them. All of them in desperate need to get out of the city as no one knew what was going to happen next. There were not enough ferries to get all the people out of NYC quickly and soon boats from all over began taking to the water into New York City. Private boats, row boats, sail boats, even yachts began making there way to NYC to help evacuate people, strangers. Private citizens also unaware if more attacks were coming but still of their own free will they came. They were not paid, nor did they ask for fares, they were not city employees, they were New Yorkers. New Yorkers that are truly amongst the heroes on that day. My former husband stood on line to leave by boat for more than 7 hours before finally being able to get on a ferry to NJ.
My mother decided to join thousands walking from downtown Manhattan to the Queensboro Bridge. Cars and buses were waiting to pack in as many as they could as people made it into Queens. Buses didnt take fares that day and these cars that were packing in people didn’t ask for money, they just of their own free will came to help get people like you and me home to our loved ones. People stood everywhere calling out the names of their loved ones in the hope of finding them during this chaos. My mother got into a car headed toward her town packed with many other passengers. She will never know the name of the man who drove her or any of the passengers. But he was a hero on that day to many.
On Sept. 11, 2001 it didn’t matter what color you were, it didn’t matter if you were American, it didn’t matter what political views you had, it didn’t matter how much money you had in your pocket or what religon you were. People helped people.Strangers held strangers tight while they wept, strangers carried injuried strangers to safety, risking their own safety. Regular everyday people become heroes on that day and the names of so very many of them you will never hear on the news. They didn”t do it to be famous, they did it because help was needed.
Now 2016, it deeply saddens me to see the amount and types of conflict we have today in our own country, and even in our own communities. If a nation could come together within itself in the face of terroristic tragedy, why in times of peace can we not all unite within our community? Have we as a people not learned anything from 9/11?
Above all today, remember to be good to one another as a people. We need each other.
God bless America