I woke up on September 11, 2001 feeling secure and protected, not knowing that soon my innocence would be taken from me. A part of me died with the nearly 3,000 people that perished that day; the part of me that felt safe in this country and that had complete trust in my government. In reality, I was a disconnected citizen that voted because it was the right thing to do, but I had no interest or knowledge about world issues or politics. I wore my collection of rose colored glasses with delight, not caring to see the entire scope of hues that lay beyond my view.
That morning, I rode the express bus to my office that was located a couple of blocks from the World Trade Center. I sat agitated as I wondered why our bus was not moving, knowing that I was already late for work. A passenger, who was sitting in a seat a few rows ahead of me, announced that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. Moments later people began to exit the bus; some to get to their destinations, others to go and see the damage of the plane crash. To my misfortune, I chose to be in the second group. As I walked toward the towers, I was suddenly watching pieces of people’s lives float around me; business cards, photographs, business letters, and personal stationary were drifting in the air in the mix of ash and smoke. I felt an odd sense of personal invasion as I picked up some items, conflicted on whether I should collect them or if I should leave them on the pavement among the ash. In a blink of an eye, the beautiful sunshine, that had surrounded me moments before, had disappeared, blanketed by the rain of debris.
When I approached 4 World Trade Center, the first thing I noticed was that everyone was standing with their faces turned up toward the sky. I followed their gazes and saw 1 World Trade Center in flames and although the South Tower blocked my view of where the plane had hit, I could easily see the flames and smoke erupt from the North Tower. Only minutes had passed when I heard the roar of a plane above; a sound that I will never forget. I saw a reflection in the windows of the building and then watched as a dark form of the underbelly of a plane appeared above me and immediately disappeared into a ball of flames and I was pelted with glass and debris. Someone grabbed me and I followed them, running into the building we were closest to. I didn’t want to stay, afraid that another plane was going to attack, but I was also afraid of getting hit by the fragments of the plane and building that we had just escaped from. Fire fighters soon told everyone to evacuate immediately and I ran outside with absolutely no plan of where I should go. I chose to follow the same person that had led me to safety, but soon saw things that I still cannot bring myself to talk about. Those visions stopped me in my tracks and made me take flight in the opposite direction, choosing to go to my office to try and contact my husband and ask him what I should do. I was only able to send out an alpha-numeric message to him from the internet because the phone lines were down. Before I knew it, they were evacuating our building as well. I left my office with my fellow coworkers and before we had gotten a block away, a rumble came from the towers. I turned and watched in horror as the South Tower began to slide down into itself and crumble. We began to run as a cloud of ash came in a wave, rolling upon us, covering us in darkness and fear. I continued running, not able to see where I was going and bumping into parked cars and other people, powered by a fear I had never known in my life. I found myself walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with hundreds of others in a surreal state. We talked amongst ourselves sharing bits of any information that we had about what had occurred that day. I eventually managed to get home safely that day, only suffering minor physical injury with cuts in my scalp, but the injury to my psyche remains.
For the next few days, I could not stop watching the news. I was waiting for news of a swift revenge in the names of those lost on September 11th. I had never heard of Osama Bin Laden before that day and had no knowledge of why someone would want to attack America. I quickly found myself absorbing any and all information that I could about why something like this would happen. I listened to my husband and his father and learned about things that the U.S. media were not reporting. I scoured the internet for other legitimate news sources that would quench my thirst for answers. I continued to feel the innocence that I once had, wane away as I watched our liberties being taken away with the Patriot Act. I watched prisoners in Guantánamo Bay not being given the basic rights that should be awarded to someone that has not had a trial in our court of justice. This wasn’t the America that I held dear; or was it? Had those rose colored glasses been protecting me all these years, or hurting me by keeping me naïve of what our government is capable of.
While I would give anything to take back the events of that day, I can’t help but think that I’m better off in some warped way. The only hopeful prospect that I’ve taken from this, is that I have had the blinders lifted and now I know the realities of world politics and policies. If many others found the rose colored tint removed from their glasses as I did that day, maybe we can prevent this from happening again.