It was the morning of September 11, 2001. I had broken my knee three days before in Switzerland, and I had just flown back to Los Angeles, waiting for the go-ahead so I could get my surgery. I am an early riser, so I got up and lumbered downstairs with my cast, and turned on the television. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
Two planes had rammed into our towers. As the buildings disintegrated, smoke snaked into the skies in the aftermath. All of the television channels were flooded with information regarding the attacks. I felt impotent because of my accident, but I knew the ramifications of something like this would be monumental.
At the time, my partner was involved in the financial sector, so she knew the stock market would take a nosedive with something like this going on. But the worst part? Not knowing what fundamental changes would take place in our country, forever altering the way we travel, relate to one another, and the general lack of security we felt going forward.
On television, we saw the crumbling of buildings, people fleeing for their lives and jumping out of buildings. It was total chaos that ensued.
I checked on my friends and family who still lived in New York and got an update. I didn’t know anyone personally who had perished, but my partner had a friend who lived in New York and was working in one of the buildings. She died along with many other people in her firm.
The ash that suffocated the city reminded me of other disasters that have taken place in the United States. I recalled the violence of volcanoes, the ravages of fires, and the unpredictability of earthquakes that we’d experienced over the years. This was far more horrific. It wasn’t a natural disaster. It was a National Disaster, and a day that forever altered the complexion of our country.
In the months ahead, the financial sectors around the world gyrated to extremes. Families lost loved ones. The suspicions that ensued made many people in the United States wary of anybody who was from the Middle East. People became uneasy. Many became paranoid. The security measures employed in our country regarding travel became extreme.
Gone were the days when you could simply hop on a plane and be at your destination within a few hours. You had to add on another couple of hours to get through the airport, deal with security, and have full body scans.
I started to feel like I was a prisoner in my own country, making everything related to getting out of town a hassle.
Yet I know these measures were a part of trying to keep our country secure. We were not secure anymore. That was the start of feeling paranoid about everything. Nothing was easy anymore. Nothing felt safe.
And now, with these permanent security measures, the situation for our military personnel involved in Afghanistan, coronavirus, and the news forever reminding us to be vigilant, I wonder if things will ever get back to the way they were before 9/11.
I doubt it.