It was on Sept 12, 2001 Philippine time when I learned about the horrendous 9/11 terrorist attacks. I arrived at the embassy my usual time and was surprised that everyone from our department including the ambassador was already in. There was unusual silence in the room. All eyes were glued on the TV with the same stunned expression. The media reported the tragedy all day for hours: that four passenger airliners were hijacked, and two of the planes were crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, USA. The first thing I saw when I looked at the screen was the sight of the tower collapsing. It was indeed heartbreaking and unimaginable. To many of us who lived through that day, we will never forget the pain and loss it has brought to so many people.
Since that infamous day, it has been on my bucket list to visit the 9/11 Memorial to pay respect to those brave innocent souls who lost their lives during the 9/11 World Trade Center bombing. While the dedication ceremony commemorating the tenth anniversary of the attacks was held at the memorial on September 11, 2011, it was only during our recent visit to NYC that my husband and I had finally checked it off from our list. From the Battery Park we walked across the street to the Freedom Tower which is most commonly known as the One World Observatory.
The feeling of being on that hallow ground was moving as you might imagine. It took a few minutes for us to register the moment: to juxtapose what we saw on 9/11 that fateful day and later the recovery efforts so valiantly undertaken on “the pile”, as the rescuers came to call it, and where we were now standing.
It was a beautiful place of serenity, of sounds of water similar to a gentle bubbling brook. There were images of artful concrete, bronze and steel, but now “the pile” is clean, untwisted and renewed like the American spirit that is embodied in every name that is inscribed there.
The construction of the Freedom Tower as well as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum only shows that no attack, small or big, can diminish the American spirit. From ashes we will rise to prove to any detractors that goodness will always prevail over evil.
God bless America!
“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy. We learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” – Sandy Dahl