I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. I was one year into my Wall Street career. I got up that morning just like every other morning and headed toward Union Square station to get on the subway down to 3 World Financial Center, the headquarters of Lehman Brothers. I had just purchased breakfast in the cafeteria when I saw one of the human resources folks from my floor yelling to evacuate. I was confused but I got my ass downstairs fast. When I got down there I joined the hundreds of others staring in awe skyward at the gaping hole in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. People speculated that a helicopter had hit the building, but I said no way. It looked like a bomb went off to me.
Shortly afterward, the ground started shaking and I heard an enormous explosion and saw fire and debris shooting out from behind the North Tower. The herd starting running and I was trampled on. We all retreated to safer ground, at which point I ran into some co-workers. I mentioned that I was a bit worried these things could fall, but I was ensured by a higher-up at the firm that this was impossible. It was at that point that some co-workers and I decided to take the long walk home to my apartment on east 12th street. As we walked, we saw people jumping from the buildings, and ultimately we saw the first one collapse in front of our eyes as we traversed through Soho.
In the days following the collapse, all I wanted was for the towers to be rebuilt just like before. I wanted the skyline back to what I had know since the day I came into this earth at a New York City hospital to be restored exactly as I had always known it. Career-wise, I felt I should leave Wall Street. I thought about going back to graduate school for political science, or maybe even join the newly created Department of Homeland Security (yes, the irony is not lost on me). I read a lengthy tome on Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. I was an emotional and psychological mess, and it was when I was in this state of heightened distress that my own government and the military-industrial complex took advantage of me.
It wasn’t just me of course. It was an entire nation that was callously manipulated in the aftermath of that tragedy. The courage and generosity exhibited by so many New Yorkers and others throughout the country and indeed the world was rapidly transformed into terrifying fear. Fear that was intentionally injected repeatedly into our daily lives. Fear that translated into pointless wars and countless deaths. Fear that was used to justify the destruction of our precious civil rights. Fear that was used to initiate a gigantic power grab and the source of tremendous profits for the corporate-statists and crony-capitalsits. Unfortunately, that is the greatest legacy of 9/11.
While all of the above is true, I now see a very bright silver lining. Although it took me an embarrassingly long time, I did wake up from the deep haze of propaganda and am now able to see things for what they really are. Of course, I am only one of millions globally who now recognize how badly we have been duped and are working to restore all of the precious things we have lost.
So let’s take 9/11 to remember all the people that were lost on that day, as well as all of those to whom we have done injustice in the name of the Orwellian never-ending “War on Terror.” Let’s strengthen our resolve to right all of these wrongs and make us proud of these United States once again. That is how I remember September 11, 2001.