On this day, at almost exactly this very moment 16 years ago, our world changed forever.
The following is a commemorative post I wrote on September 11, 2011. I’d like to re-share it with you today:
Like most adults, I woke today filled with memories of that other morning, ten years ago, almost to the moment.
It had been a period of loss for our family. First my mother, unexpectedly at the age of 69 in early 2000. Next a dear aunt, then another — sisters of my mother. Then, on September 3, 2001, my husband Alex lost a beloved aunt, followed the very next day, September 4, by his father, Donald Carrick.
We returned to work on the morning of Monday, September 11 after a week of funerals. Already saddened, but relieved, at least, to put the heaviest of our grief behind us and get back to our normal routines.
It was just past 9 am. My office phone rang. It was one of my staff, a young lady, calling to say she would be a little late. “But Donna,” she added, “there’s something wrong in New York City. I don’t know what, but something’s happened at The Towers.”
I won’t pretend her first words chilled me. I had no idea, after all, what they meant. But her next sentences gave me pause. “It’s really scary,” she said. “Everything here is too quiet. There are no planes in the air — none.”
I put the phone down. I work for a major media organization, and at that time we were still connected with Canwest at the 1450 Don Mills Road building. I ran from my office on the 2nd floor up a half flight toward the big news screen on the 3rd floor.
Within moments, almost 200 of my friends and co-workers had joined me. In absolute silence we watched the newsman as he struggled to make sense of the first impact. He, and we, thought it must have been an accident. He spoke in reverence, pausing to find the right words. Clearly it was not a typical news report. He was just a guy with a microphone and a camera, trying to tell the world what had happened.
And then, before our eyes, in one flash of horror, the unthinkable occurred. The second plane. As he spoke, facing the camera, behind his head we saw it pass, turn, and collide with the second tower.
And we all knew.
There was no cry of horror in our building. No stifled collective gasp — no outrage spoken in words.
There was only a deep, unbroken silence as the knowledge flooded us.
During the days that followed our hearts broke time and again, with each new discovery, each fresh image that was presented to us. We were filled with an unprecedented grief, and a love for our brothers and sisters in New York City.
The phrase “Ground Zero” came into our language. But we know the damage of that day was not isolated to the towers. Not at all. Its impact ripples to this day through the hearts and minds of people everywhere. None are left untouched.
So here we are in Canada on a beautiful Toronto morning. What has changed in our world?
Ten years have come…and gone. A heightened sense of security worldwide has restricted our freedoms in ways we might never have imagined. We’ve suffered suspicion… against our neighbours, from our neighbours. Friendships have grown, or have been set aside. Babies have been born, and loved ones have died.
But that moment, standing with hundreds of my co-workers, friends all, entrenched in the silent horror of first awareness, before even the newsman knew for sure…..
…that was a pivotal moment.
A moment that cannot be erased, nor can it be trivialized, nor should it ever be.
All that has come to pass since that day has been acted on an altered stage.
And now, ten years later, we still seek peace. Too elusive. Too vague a concept. Our global psyche too cluttered with offenses given and received, too filled with suspicion and hatred. Forgive us our trespasses, as we will forgive those who trepass….
Instead of a day committed to reliving that horror, as if anyone could or would ever forget, I pray we will dedicate this day to seeking peaceful solutions to our differences.
That’s my fervent wish on this day, ten years to the moment later.
September 11, 2011