Ten years ago, I woke up to this image. I was in my first year of high school back then. The world was still a huge place for me and the possibilities of exploring it were endless.
On that fateful day, however, doors closed and fear crept into the minds of every human being on earth.
I admit, when I first saw the image on the screen it was more like an earthquake struck. There were building parts on fire and smoke everywhere. It seemed like a dust storm of some kind had covered the whole TV screen and that what used to be the Twin Towers have turned into ashes. We live halfway around the world from where the scene happened. We still had cable television back then so we saw everything that the news channels flashed on screen. It was a nightmare to watch but as I was still 12 years old, I never really understood the gravity of the tragedy back then.
Ten years passed and we remember that tragedy. We remember the planes, the towers, the horror. We remember the people inside the buildings, the people who tried to pull them out and the people out on the streets, screaming in fear, in terror, in utter bewilderment. We look back and see pictures of people bathed in rubble dust, people whose lives have been shattered, people who will never be the same. All those years and yet we still look back on that eventful and terrible day as one of the worst in our generation.
I don't know anyone who died in that attack. I don't know the people who were in the buildings or the people who tried to save them or the loved ones left behind. I don't know what went on inside while the building slowly collapsed or the storm inside each loved ones' hearts brewing into grief, contempt, anger, and loss. But I do know one thing, if that tragedy hadn't struck, I may know one soul in the building now.
In ten years, I could still have the desire to work in the US without that fear. In ten years, I may have met someone who worked at the World Trade Center and I may find myself applying for a position there. These ten years may have been special, formative to my acquired interest in those twin towers. But I find myself thinking of only what-ifs.
We are faced with what-has and not what-could-have-beens. We are forced to look back and remember things that we cannot change. But we can now do so with thankfulness in our hearts. Please don't think I am insensitive to the hurts the people have felt with their loss. I have felt for them too. But I am saying that we should be thankful because despite the tragedy, we live.
We are standing, breathing here, today with a life that does not belong to us. This is a life that could have been taken from us for reasons and by ways we dare not imagine. We live today possessing a breath that may be our last but despite this, we live.
9/11 was a dreadful day. We, the world, was knocked off our feet and brought face down into ashes. We were so confident, so sure of ourselves that nothing could go wrong. We were so sure that the world was safe and that nothing could surprise us. But we were wrong. We pushed the idea away but it came back to us in the form of two hijacked planes straight into the two towers. We panicked, we lost. We cried. But what did we learn?
We, my friends, have learned to stand up. We have learned that, though the bigger they are the harder they fall, the harder they fall we have all the more reason to rise. Everything has an end and every end has a beginning. Without us knocked off our feet, would anyone have supposed us stronger today? Would anyone have thought that we are now more rooted into what's right and have faith in the only thing that can save us? Would anyone have thought that by falling down, we can reach those dreams that we have so longed seemed to grasp at? I daresay no one would have thought it so.
I daresay that we cannot be stronger and more able to stand without the hurt that we have had to bear. And I am confident enough to say that there has been a reason for that event. That with that event, we have learned to treasure our lives, to treasure each and every moment we live on this earth. We have learned to treasure our loved ones because we all don't know when we will see them again.
Remembering 9/11 can be painful and is painful. But remembering the lessons learned, the lives rebuilt and the hope that has shone its light on all of us, it is a symbol of how far we have all gone. And how far we are still moving forward.