We were there

My wife and I were in our apartment on the 32 floor at 70th and York Ave. in New York City about 5 miles due north of the Twin Towers. My eldest son and his wife were with us having been visiting for several days. We were due to go out sightseeing that morning but the events on TV changed our plans dramatically. We stayed in the entire day and evening watching the terrible scene. Outside, it was eerily still outside. There were no cars on the road, no taxis, no buses which for New York was incomprehensible. And there was no noise, not even the frequent sirens of emergency vehicles. And there were few pedestrians. All along 5th Avenue by Central Park were Army and National Guard personnel with half-tracks and other armored vehicles like a war zone but no movement just parked and waiting.

Did it affect my world view, of course but perhaps not in the way that might be thought. Having been raised in a very liberal family, I already had a world view of American imperialism and how we had interfered in legitimate democratic processes in other countries especially in the Middle East. So while I was surprised and astounded at this attack, I also understood its origins. And I now realized that we were no longer invulnerable nor free from the reach of violence that affected so many other countries, allies or not.

The world had definitely become smaller and technology had put us all in harms way in a manner we had never seen before. It was a frightening realization.

I was emotionally moved walking by my local fire station and seeing the response to the tragedy, walking by fences covered with photos of missing family members with telephone numbers to call if found, seeing makeshift memorials hastily placed along sidewalks. It was heart rendering to know the loss of life that had occurred and to understand the enormity of grief that now engulfed the city. It was unimaginable and I thought of other cities that had suffered physical destruction and it had seemed inconceivable that it could occur here, but it had and our innocence was gone forever.

I have never condoned violence or terrorism no matter the cause so this event reinforced my belief that peaceful dialogue and international cooperation were the only way to a better world. But I knew that this act would become a driving force in American foreign policy and in shaping the opinion of the American body politic. Subsequent events extending for 20 years and still ongoing have reinforced my view.`


Story Campaign: 
Stories of September 11