I remember waking up on the morning of 9/11/2001 to my roommate’s frantic voice. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, and had moved out from NYC in October 1999. That morning, like many Americans and others around the world, I was completely glued to my television and for almost three days straight. I couldn’t stop taking in every news update.
Two years prior, I had spent ten months working next to the World Trader Center as a floating receptionist. During that time I got to make friends with several people who worked in the Twin Towers and in the surrounding area. So on the morning of September 11th, it really hit me hard. I just couldn’t believe this was really happening. It felt like it was just yesterday that I was taking walks around the buildings, having lunch with friends and daydreaming about the future. Now in an instant, it was all gone.
With all the horrors, the loss, and destruction of 9/11, I never would have imagined myself watching a Hollywood movie about this tragedy, but it happened. With great resistance, a couple of weeks ago, I watched “World Trade Center” directed by Oliver Stone.
Typically I try to watch films that inspire, educate or make me laugh, and I avoid movies that are violent or elicit feelings of pain and sorrow. I simply don’t like to put myself through the agony of watching those types of films since my ability to suspend disbelief is not that strong and I take it in like it’s really happening. Yes, “World Trade Center” was a difficult movie too see, but it showed another side to the tragic story we all know.
A True Story
My husband, G, told me in advance that it was based on the true story of two Port Authority Police Officers who went in as part of a rescue team, but became trapped in the collapse of the building. The story follows these last two survivors, the rescue workers who risked their lives, and the families who never gave up hope.
After hearing the story, I reluctantly watched. Yes, there were moments that were too intense for me and I had to temporarily leave the room, but there were also moments when I was completely captivated by the story of these two men and their determination to stay alive.
Thankfully, Oliver Stone spared the audience some of the deepest horrors and graphic details as he carefully guided the story with its focus on courage, love, and the human spirit.
I do not like war, I do not like violence on any level. Still I was able to take many meaningful thoughts and insights from the film.
(1) Respect – Like many people, when I hear and read the news about the seemingly endless wars that have been going on these last several years, I get very upset. Yes, I want them to be over. I want our troops to come home. And before this movie, I just couldn’t understand why on earth anyone would risk their lives by joining the police, fire department, or military.
But now, I see why. I see how people can be moved beyond selfishness, moved to go forward and do their part for this great country,and this great world we live in. I see how a narrow viewpoint, careless words, and thoughtless actions can minimize their courageous acts when we fail to see beyond the horror.
(2) Humanity – After honoring the anniversary of 9/11 over the last 9 years, my eyes finally see a wider vision and my heart holds a bigger love for those who have sacrificed and those who continue to sacrifice. I see the amazing strength of the human spirit. I feel a deeper honor, respect and admiration for those who go beyond themselves for the sake of humanity.
(3) Courage – The rescue workers risked their lives not without fear but without ego. They were moved to do so. They risked their lives in order to save others. It’s easy to say those words, but it’s challenging to really comprehend the reality of what that is, to literally risk our life to save others.
(4) Hope – In the corporate world, I remember learning “ hope is not a strategy” and hope can’t really do much. But now, I see that hope and love of another person made the difference between life and death for the survivors. Their commitment to keeping each other talking, communicating, staying conscious– together they would survive. Hope and faith can sometimes be the difference between life and death.
(5) Partnership – Shared strength is more powerful than individual strength. As a union, we can accomplish far more than we could alone, and in the story of these two police officers, their partnership made the difference. The partnership of the rescue workers coming together and doing their parts, saved lives. It’s our partnership as a country, as a world, that will allow us one day have the world peace that we desire.
I watched this movie and immediately after, I watched it again with the commentary from the real heroes not the actors. I have never done that before, but I was seriously in awe with how they were able to tell their story openly and with compassion, not with bitter anger.
In the commentary, Will Jimeno spoke about his traumatic experience with a sense of love, compassion, and appreciation for all people involved. He did not focus on the hell he went through. He talked about people being fundamentally good, and naturally wanting to doing the right thing by reaching out and going beyond themselves.
Our love, our actions, our participation, although they might look small from an individual’s point of view, they have a real affect on the world. World peace starts with inner peace. When we forgive ourselves, when we forgive life’s tragedies, and those who have wronged us, we experience amazing unlimited love and power of the human spirit. If we allow life’s jagged edges to transform us into more compassionate people, then we can be of even better service to others.
This year on September 11th, I will honor the love, courage, and patriotism of our heroes and deepen my faith in humanity as I pray for all those who serve the greater good.