It seems each generation has that one day in history where they can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the devastating news. From Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., the Challenger, Pearl Harbor and so many others it seems like we mark history with horror.
My date, like so many others is 9/11.
I can still remember the climactic moment when our principal came over the intercom and informed the school that The World Trade Center was hit by a plane. I can remember my teachers running around trying to get a hold of friends or family. I can remember not wanting to watch the television as the towers fell. To this day, I’m glad I had my head down in that moment.
It’s been sixteen years since I stepped foot on the grounds of The World Trade Center. The last time just months before that fateful day. May 2001, a field trip earned by hard work and some begging of money from my parents. I didn’t want to go at first, but something inside of me, call it an inner voice or intuition, told me to go because I may never have the chance again.
That seems pretty foreseeing considering what would happen just four months later. Back then it was more, I knew my parents would never take me to New York City than the idea that the buildings would be gone.
Sixteen years later and I finally made my way back. As I approached World Trade Center One an overwhelming sadness filled me. Tears filled the brim of my eyes and I held back the suffocating feeling of change. This was not a good change, this was a hurtful change. My thoughts stayed silent as I approached the South Tower memorial.
Observing those around me I could see how much our world has changed. From disposable cameras to selfie sticks, from two powerful standing towers to two crying water memorials. Why were people taking selfies? Thousands of people had died a horrific death and here they were posing like models on the trees, benches, and even up against the memorial itself. This wasn’t a place for a duck face. This was a place of unbeknownst sacrifice.
Being a teenager I couldn’t fully understand what was happening when 9/11 happened. As an adult, I realize now that there are some things completely out of our hands that will never have answers. In the museum, there are pictures and names along with remains of those who died that day. They made a sacrifice for our country, they didn’t know it was going to happen, they didn’t know that their lives would mean something to someone they never met. They didn’t know that they were not going home that night.
Walking the museum I thought about the travel ban, the hovering fear many have and of my friends who see the discrimination every day. The argument that we can never let something like this happen again is understandable. That day marks a point in my history that I pray no other generation has to go through. But as I read the arguments surrounding the current proposed Travel Ban I question if anyone really understands what happened that day?
Do they know it wasn’t just white men and woman, Christians and American’s who died that day? Do they know that youngest to die was an unborn child? Do they know that not everyone working that day was a CEO or someone of wealth? Do they know that The World Trade Center does not just represent the ideal image of America?
- 28 Muslims individuals died on 9/11 because of terrorist**
- 324 Jewish individuals died on 9/11 because of terrorist**
- 61 Countries had victims die on 9/11 because of terrorist**
- 372 Foreigners died on 9/11 because of terrorist**
- 177 Hispanic males died on 9/11 because of terrorist**
- 81 Hispanic females died on 9/11 because of terrorist**
- 136 Non-Hispanic Black males died on 9/11 because of terrorist**
- 79 Non-Hispanic Black females died on 9/11 because of terrorist**
- 122 Asian/Pacific Islander males died on 9/11 because of terrorist**
- 54 Asian/Pacific Islander females died on 9/11 because of terrorist**
- 1,659 White Males died on 9/11 because of terrorist**
- 407 white females died on 9/11 because of terrorist**
“I do not use the word Islamic to describe the cowards behind the attack, that gives them power that they do not own.”
As I made my way around the memorial and museum I felt the final impact of grief overcome me. I’ve been here, I’ve walked these grounds, and yet nothing will ever be the same. Many people I know think that we should hold hate for what happened on 9/11, to be angry about that day and all the lives lost.
I am angry, but my anger is not directed at other victims, the ones everyone is so afraid of. They did not fly those planes that day, they did not decide to attempt to take down America. They watched just like the rest of the world in horror as hate became our biggest enemy.
Sixteen years later and I finally understand, 9/11 was not about the economy, religion or the free world. 9/11 was about hate. Hate is a strong word, one that can literally destroy. So when I walked through the museum, looking at the faces of all who made an unwilling sacrifice I realized that no matter your color, race, religion, gender or age, hate can truly destroy you.
I know many will disagree with my stance on the Travel Ban and I know many will never fully understand what I feel about 9/11, but someday my generation will no longer be around and I hope that when that happens the world is no longer afraid of the simple emotion of hate.
**Some of these numbers may not be exact.