For us 20somethings, we really have only been exposed to a world filled with high security, terror threats and global unrest.
It’s been a while since we’ve last been out of a war, since we were able to go through airport security with our shoes on or without a boarding pass, and since foreign affairs and international terrorism wasn’t a forefront issue. Even at the turn of the millennium, the USA economy was king, gas prices were low, wages were high, the “dot com” bubble was reaching its peak and unemployment was low.
Little did anyone know, September 11, 2001 would change the world forever.
Probably the most asked question in the years following 9/11 was, “Where were you when the first plane hit?”
Even though some of us were only 6 or 7 when the tragic day happened, we can answer that question with specific details that we could never answer about any other day.
I was 8 years old, sitting in my class in elementary school like any other day, when the principal announced we were all being evacuated to the YMCA across the street. I lived in New Jersey, just 40 minutes away from Manhattan. In my childhood bliss, I was unaware what “terrorism” meant and even how serious the attack was.*
When school officials finally let us head home, I watched the horrific scene of the Twin Towers collapse into grey dust. Another scene flashed to the fire at the Pentagon, also caused by a plane crash. Then to a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. The images will forever be ingrained in my mind.*
We may not have understood what was going on at first, but between the media coverage and the replay of the planes driving into the buildings, people running from fear, and the uncensored reaction of the adults around us, it’s a moment that sticks with us for life. If you didn’t know before, you knew who Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden was. Overnight, the U.S. Was at war with an ideology — terrorism.
“We will never forget.”
September 11 will always be a somber day that will remain in the history books forever.
It is important to sit and reflect on and commemorate the lives that were lost. While always remembering the past, we also need to focus on the present and how New York and America have rebounded from such a terrible tragedy.
Each anniversary of 9/11, new milestones are met to clean up and rebuild the 16 acre area where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood, as well as the downtown Manhattan as a whole.
What is different this year? Every anniversayr is important for the families of the victims as well as the World Trade Center site. To put things into perspective, by the 14th anniversary:
- The youngest children of the victims are now starting high school…let that one sink in if you feel old.
- Both One and Four World Trade Center opened for business in 2014 with Conde Nast being a major tenant in One WTC.
- The World Trade Center observatory opened this past spring. It also opened up a restaurant on the top. There was a restaurant in the old World Trade Center before the attacks and was the highest grossing restaurant at one point.
- The World Financial Center across the street rebranded itself completely. The new Brookfield Place is now open for business with high-end shopping and dining options.
- The new PATH station is almost near completion. It’s clean you can practically eat off the platform floor (even though you obviously shouldn’t). The transportation hub is expected to open up within a year. Construction is also happening at the old 1 train stop at Cortlandt Street which has been closed since 9/11.
- Lower Manhattan has been redefined since 9/11. The population has grown drastically, especially in Battery Park, and new high rises and apartments are sprucing up around the area. The old 9-5 Financial District is starting become a more 24 hour New York City.
Looking back at everything, the scars still remain. It’s important to note that even with a bandage on, we’re still healing from the wound every day. It’s going to be nearly impossible to peel the bandage off anytime soon, but Americans never ceases to overcome adversity.
*Anecdote contributed by Katherine Lam