Sunday, September 11, 2011
Ten years ago I was newly arrived in Kuwait, three weeks into a two year tour. I was working in the consular section, handling visas and settling into life in the Middle East. Weeks before, I had been in NYC with my mom and sister, one last hurrah before heading overseas. On that trip, we did almost every tourist thing you can do in New York save going up in the Twin Towers. I have a punishing fear of heights, and after having a panic attack at the Empire State Building, I decided to forgo any more trips on high, and my mother and sister agreed, promising themselves a trip to the top of the World Trade Center on their next visit to the city. Little did we know how much would have changed before that next trip.
When we first got word that a plane had hit the WTC, we all gathered around the TV wondering how such an accident could happen in Manhattan. When we saw the second plane hit, we knew it was no accident. The next few hours were spent in a flurry of setting up an emergency operations center and fielding calls from hundreds of American citizens living in Kuwait. In between it all, I tried frantically for hours to reach my family in DC before finally getting through and learning they were safe. We lived at work for the next couple of days trying to help people track down loved ones, trying to soothe their fears and grief, trying to wrap our minds around the attack. Kuwaitis came out in droves to express their grief, delivering flowers, signs, and cards to the embassy. Over time, as the names of the victims became known, there was time to mourn for college classmates, for the parents of friends, for members of my extended community. There was fear and uncertainty, there was grief and anger, and eventually, there was the dawning realization that the world as we knew it would never be the same.
Ten years later, I find myself once again living in the Middle East, living in a world forever changed and to a certain extent forever defined by what happened a decade ago in New York and in DC and in Pennsylvania. I see war and conflict and fear in so many places, so many lives lost and so many more changed by the events of September 11, 2001. And today, a day when it is impossible not to remember a day we can never forget, I find myself with nothing more to say than "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."