September 11, 2001 is a day, as a New Yorker, I will never forget.  The question has often been asked “where were you when the towers were hit?”  Well, I was driving along a Long Island, NY beach road on a beautiful, sunny day, headed to work at a federal courthouse.  The day quickly turned into a day no one will ever forget. Upon arriving at work, it wasn’t long before the Pentagon was hit, which lead to our building being evacuated. The U.S. was under attack.  My drive home was terrifying, as I constantly looked to the sky for planes dropping bombs. The ensuing days, weeks, months and yes – years, were some of the saddest I have ever experienced.

Loss and grief was everywhere, with NYC bearing the brunt of this indescribable pain. Loved ones walked the streets searching for their missing family, posters were taped to every building, and firehouses were meeting places for the hero survivors of comrades/family lost, and for the public to all come together to grieve; for us to thank those heroes who were trained to go into a building as everyone else was leaving. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani asked us to go to restaurants, stay at hotels, to show the rest of the world we were strong and safe. Honestly, it didn’t feel safe, but it was our obligation to get our city back on its feet.

We all knew someone who either perished on 9/11; someone who survived the attack;  someone who worked tirelessly searching for survivors, without a single thought of the danger they were encountering as they breathed in toxic air; or, sadly, someone who perished as the years went on, as a result of this exposure. They are still dying because of it, to this very day.

I cried every day for at least a year, as I watched what seemed like never-ending funeral processions, lives trying to be put back together and praying we would never go through anything like it again.  Every year, as the date approaches,  no matter that I now live 3,000 miles from my hometown, my heart is right back there, my memories become fresh and my emotions are raw.  20 years – I will never forget.

originally posted Sep 2021