Ten years ago I was working for a high-tech startup company. I’d lived in Ottawa for about 9 months and it had been exactly one month since I had my wedding for all our friends and family. For our honeymoon, Matt and I flew to San Francisco via Philadelphia, PA. This may seem irrelevant, except that our flight path was so similar to that of the planes that were flown into the World Trade Centre towers. My typically sensible, rational, level-headed mother broke into tears as she thought about our flights that had been just a month before. That “what if” really shouldn’t have been in her mind since the hate that spurred this attack was directed primarily at Americans - a fact that I still struggle to understand.
I heard about the first plane from Matt when he emailed me at work. I immediately went and told my boss who dismissed it as untrue. (I have no idea what he was thinking. Major news outlets don’t report this stuff on a whim without verification.)When the second plane was reported, he finally believed me. Word spread through the office slowly. With no TVs or radios in the office, our only option was to try to get online. All the major news sites were bogged down with the volume of visitors thirsty for information.
I was in shock; my work forgotten. I walked with a coworker to a nearby diner where we watched CNN with the rest of the restaurant in silence. Later that afternoon, my boss - knowing he was talking to an American - proceeded to tell me that this might not have happened if America had stepped in three weeks earlier when an Indian flight was hijacked. His message to me was that we got what we deserved.
According to this man, 2,996 people “deserved” to die. Men and women working to support their families. Emergency services workers doing their job of helping, protecting. I’ll never understand the blind hate that motivated the actions of the men responsible because I can’t relate to hating someone I don’t know simply because they fit into a certain category.
This tenth anniversary has been exceptionally emotional; I’m not sure why. Though I wasn’t there and didn’t know anyone who was there, I’ve grieved for those who were. I’ve grieved for what the U.S. lost as a nation that day.
For weeks after 9/11/01, I watched the news every night at home, thirsty for something. I don’t know what I expected to hear that would make the horror of that day ease. It got to the point that Matt finally told me to stop watching and I did. I didn’t need to constantly relive the day to remember.
Eventually my tears dried up, but the memory of 9/11 will never leave me.