From my visit to Ground Zero in July 2011

Eleven years ago on September 11th, 2001, I was sitting inside my classroom in 7th grade and it was homeroom. I was only a week into Middle school (Tecumseh Sr. Public School) – I’d barely learnt how to use a combination lock properly and was still adjusting to a lot of new faces in the building. What had happened that day really changed the world beyond me and I didn’t even know what it meant until I got a bit older.

The look on my teacher’s face that morning when she came back into the classroom after she’d stepped out for a second (which was pretty odd to start off the day) was something that looked like fear and deep sadness. She told us that a terrible event had happened and that she didn’t understand how or why it happened, but she let us know that it was bad, and as a 12 year-old kid, you’re naïve to the world and you don’t understand much, but when I got home and I turned on CNN to see the footage that two airplanes had crashed into each of the Twin Towers, I honestly thought that it was a freak accident, but I didn’t cry, and I wasn’t scared, but I thought that it was really crazy what was happening.

I was on the phone (you know, back when people used the landline) with my mom, and it had been a few hours since the Towers had imploded and fell, but watching the footage over and over of the planes crashing and the buildings falling, and then hearing about what had happened at the Pentagon & in that field in Pennsylvania; I was honestly saying “why are all of these bad things happening?” I didn’t understand what it meant and I just hoped that it would end, but little did I know that this one day would change the course of history and how society was impacted from that day forward.

I don’t want to get into the war or the fact that a series of documentaries and conspiracy theories were made trying to exactly find out what happened. I’m not a political extremist or theorist, I’m just a civilian. I’m not an American, but I am human, and we’re all one race, and what happened on that day, you had to feel sympathy for the United States, love them or hate them. Yes, I get it, war happens everywhere and every day in the world, but living in North America, things like that don’t happen often. Yes there was the incident in Atlanta during the Olympics and yes there was the Oklahoma City Bombing, but since that time, what really has happened? On a major scale of terrorism? Not much. I’m a Canadian, and I’m fortunate to live in a country where there’s really no imminent threat to the people here, but I felt it for the people in the States, especially since I have family that lives over there, as well as many other Canadians (80% of the damn country lives KMs away from the U.S border), so there was sympathy from our end.

Last year, I was in New York before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and ironically it was 10 years since I was last in New York, but I had a meeting in Times Square then I ventured off alone to Ground Zero after I walked the Brooklyn Bridge. I won’t lie…it was kind of surreal to just look out into the distance and see just a hole, but it was being occupied by the new Freedom Tower and another tower that was being built in the Towers’ place. To see the graves & the other memorials for the 9/11 victims, it really brought the whole thing into perspective and it became very real for me. It was mind blowing that I was a 12 year old kid then, now 22 year old man witnessing just what had happened and how it had affected the New Yorkers on that fateful day.

Building of the Freedom Towers – restoration of new hope

Americans pride themselves on being a nation that is able to bounce back from any setbacks. They didn’t lay down and accept defeat; they locked arms and stood together and came together as a nation to rise above the shadows of fear to triumph in glory and the light of new hope. That’s inspiring. To see the picture of the firefighters that were raising the flag over the tower debris, and to see images of the people covered in ash but walking away from what looked like inevitable death, that was inspiring. Americans are fighters and their macho manner over the rest of the world may appear as arrogance, but at times like these, you have to lend a hand of help to really show a sense of compassion and that you have a heart.

Wars, elections, civil unrest in the Middle East and a damaging economy have been the plague of the United States and North America as a whole, but what must start must always end, and 9/11 should serve as a lesson to future generations that life can change in an instant, even if it doesn’t directly affect you. Getting up when you’re knocked down shows a true state of strength that many don’t have, and when dealing with events like this, it takes a lot of strength to get back up and punch someone back in the mouth. The U.S did that, and has been doing that for 12 years now. We don’t know what will happen in the near future with regards to the world and what it will bring, but we do know that this day, September 11th, will (as the say) forever live in infamy because of what it represented and what it means to the Western World.

I wish well for all of the victims of the families that lost their loved ones, and I wish well for the future individuals that were struck by this event that they’re motivated to make a positive impact in the world. We’re all in this together, so why not lead it together? 1 Race, 1 World…although we may argue and bicker and jump down each other’s throats about who’s who and what’s what, we’re all the same at the end of our days. 9/11 is forever embedded and engraved in our cerebral tissue; some have forgiven, some have not, but the most important thing is that no one will ever forget.

That’s My Word & It STiXX