We are surrounded by reminders of September 11, 2001 almost constantly. I remember, even a few years after the attacks, thinking that it was something I heard about almost daily in some capacity or another. Every year, I think I’ve “gotten over it” or “moved on from it” and then every year, I sit in front of the TV crying and gasping for air while loved ones of those lost read the names and their photos pop up, one after the other. It’s such a stomach churning reality to face — I still go through the stages of grief — wondering how the hell something like that could even happen, and feeling scared that something similar still could.
Since 2012, I’ve felt a particular closeness to 9/11 as my first job out of college was at The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency who owned the Twin Towers, and whose headquarters were there, and who now own the World Trade Center site. Yes, I grew up just a train ride away from New York City, and felt that closeness growing up after the attacks, but it wasn’t until I started my job there that I really felt the effects of that day. So many of my friends whom I adore to the ends of the earth were there that day and have horrific stories to tell. One friend still gets panic attacks, seemingly out of nowhere, when she’s driving, or on the train to work. Another friend missed the attacks because she was running late to work that day. One of my closest, most wonderful friends guided a burn victim down 78 fights of stairs in the north tower. Those are the stories that feel like a punch in the stomach. The stories of “what happened” and “what could’ve happened.”
I was lucky enough to visit the WTC site many times during my 2.5 tenure at the PANYNJ, and even attended the Memorial service on 9/11 two years ago. It’s still such a raw nerve to know that some of the people I adore most in this world will never fully be healed by the acts of terrorism on that day. It’s easy to forget when we go about our day-to-day lives, but it’s ALWAYS in the back of my mind. Today and every day, for my Port Authority family, I remember.