Of course, I'll never forget what happened today - 13 years ago. The thing I won't EVER forget though, is the amount of unity, love, selflessness and strength we had as a city that day. September 11th, 2001 - it wasn't about the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island or Manhattan. It wasn't about Uptown or Downtown, Yankees or Mets, Giants or Jets. It wasn't about Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Indians, Jews or Caucasians. It was about NEW YORK. I've told the story a hundred times over, so I'll tell the abridged version this time.
I was in school on Broome Street - not too far from the WTC. Unity High School, an "alternative" school for us "misfit" kids, LOL. We didn't know what was going on, we just knew something was up because the teachers weren't giving us any work to do. Ms. Balstad came in the room and said a plane had crashed into the Twin Towers. There was no concept of this being a "terrrorist" attack then. Ms. Balstad tried to claim it was the Russians attacking us after we started watching the news. Then the 2nd plane hit and we knew it wasn't right.
My homie Nael Daniel was late to school (as usual) and on his way in the 2nd plane flew right over him, a vision I shudder to even think about. We were told we would be on "lockdown" and we would have to wait until our parents were notified until we could leave. Some stayed put, most didn't. The ones that didn't found their escape through the bathroom windows by jumping down to a lower ledge and leaving the school. Me and Nael (Danny) weren't trying to stick around and wait, so we bounced too. The minute we got outside it was the eeriest and haunting feeling in the air. Dust everywhere. Silence aside from the sirens in the distance. We walked the streets seeing men in suits covered with soot and ash. Anyone talking outside was talking about what had happened. All stores were closed. West 4th Street - SHUT DOWN. 14th Street - SHUT DOWN. 34th street - SHUT DOWN. 42nd Street - SHUT DOWN. Cell phone lines were down, roads were closed. No entry in or out of the city. We walked from Broome Street to East 105th St where Danny lived. My mom was bugging out because she hadn't heard from me that day and my grandmother wanted me to come home. When I got home is when it got worse.
Images of people jumping from the Twin Towers haunted my sleep. The constant replay of the moment of the plane's impact was something you couldn't turn away from. A TRL broadcast of a post-9/11 world only served as a band-aid to a city's mortal wound. I remember feeling helpless when the Red Cross was on the news asking for volunteers to give blood. What could I do? I was only a teenager then. The subways were shut down, so I couldn't leave the hood if I wanted to. We spent a week locked in as a city, stuck with the loop of what happened to us. Only to then be thrown into a war as a country - angry, confused and determined to destroy those that did this to us.
Back then, I wasn't as aware as I am now. As much as I will always remember today for what happened 13 years ago, as much as I mourn the victims and those who lost their lives that day, as much as I honor the troops that gave their lives to fight for our country, I can't help but look at this day and feel only halfway somber about the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. Knowing that I live in a nation where we would sacrifice THOUSANDS of lives just for the economic power that war begets brings a sickening feeling to my stomach. I'm not a "9/11 Truther" or even that big of a "Conspiracy Theorist" but I've had more than enough time to review the evidence. While I have respect for those lost and I admire our resolve as a country, I am appalled by our government's actions as well as the use of this tragedy as a means to limit our rights and force us into a police state and ultimately a new world order.
I was here that day. There that day. I felt the pain of my city, as well as my nation.
I will NEVER FORGET...and as much as I'll never forget, I will NEVER FORGIVE either.