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When the Silence Was Deafening

Never forget the day the world changed

I still remember that morning. The skies here were clear and beautiful, graced by the presence of a few clouds and a pristine cerulean aerial ocean. There was nothing that set the day apart from its counterparts; just another normal, uneventful, dare I say innocent Tuesday that honestly was part of my simple, and perhaps even admittedly at the time, boring life. I remember being at the normally busy and bustling call centre I was working at, when the lines had gone eerily silent. I remember thinking something’s wrong, something’s happening but having no idea the magnitude of the reason why.

I remember when my view of the world forever changed.

We had been told there was a terrorist attack in New York and were all sent home. I called my parents at the first opportunity, and my dad proceeded to tell me the World Trade Center towers were hit by planes and fell. I couldn’t even grasp this in my head, and I even remember asking him, “What are you talking about, what do you mean they fell‽”, as if the whole thing was too far fetched to believe. Little did I know just how real everything was until I got back home and turned on the television to witness the horror. Not long after doing so the video clip played of the second plane hitting, and for the first time I recall in my life I was rendered truly speechless by what I had just seen. I remember sitting alone in my apartment, uttering no words either vocally or even in my head, merely taken back in silent shock by the images in front of me.

A silence that was deafening in its profound impact.

I remember seeing the photo of President George W. Bush sitting in the classroom, wearing the same look of utter horror on his face as my own, as his Chief of Staff told him:

“A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.”

Andy Card

Then it happened. The video played — the first time for me — of the South Tower collapsing, and the sheer magnitude of the horror I was witnessing, and would spend the rest of my day and late into the night failing to comprehend, became shockingly clear. What did this all mean? How could this possibly happen at all? What was going to happen next? Still sitting alone in that eerie, deafening silence as my mind continued to be overrun with thoughts of shock, confusion, and sadness, while my heart could only weep for the victims of this terrible attack.

I remember later watching the report about the heroes on board Flight 93, that sacrificed themselves to stop the hijackers on that fourth plane from hitting their intended target. A moment of selfless courage and determination in a day otherwise filled with heartbreaking tragedy. I remember admiring such bravery in the face of cowardly evil, fear, and needless deaths. Former President George W. Bush’s commemoration speech today highlighted the thoughts and memories of that day twenty years ago:

“For those too young to recall that clear September day, it is hard to describe the mix of feelings we experienced. There was horror at the scale – there was horror at the scale of destruction, and awe at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it. There was shock at the audacity – audacity of evil – and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it. In the sacrifice of the first responders, in the mutual aid of strangers, in the solidarity of grief and grace, the actions of an enemy revealed the spirit of a people.”

And there’s this truly touching tribute to those brave souls on Flight 93:

“The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people. Facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action, and defeated the designs of evil.”

George W. Bush

In the face of unbelievable suffering, as humanity we can still display tremendous resilience and strength. Lessons we should always heed, and never forget. Never forget how we need to come together in times of need, not divide ourselves and move apart. Never forget the nearly three-thousand innocent lives that were sadly taken that day. Never forget to tell those we love those words every day, for we never know when it may be our last opportunity.

Silence of these memories is deafening to the necessary lesson they serve to teach us; that life is precious and worth living willingly, proudly, and resolutely. A painful reminder that life is fragile, and to honour all those that were lost.

We must never, ever forget the day the world changed.

Posted in #SeptemberScrawls - Day (9/)11

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