9/11 How I Relived the Tragedy and Discovered Humanity

by Aileen

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.

The Movie

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.

Insights

(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.

Heroes

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.

Honoring the Hero’s of 9/11

I remember waking up on the morning of 9/11/01 to my roommate’s frantic voice. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, had moved out of NYC in October 1999. That morning, like many Americans I was glued to my television and for almost 3 days straight I couldn’t stop taking in every news update. I didn’t have family members who worked in the Twin Towers, I was simply a regular American feeling the shock and horror that we were all feeling that day.

Two years prior, I had spent I spent 10 months working next to the world trader center as a floating receptionist. I new several people who worked in the Twin Towers and in the area. On the morning of September 11th, I couldn’t believe this was really happening and as they days past I still couldn’t really process what was happening.

A Movie? Really?

Never would I imagine myself watching a Hollywood movie about this tragedy, but it happened. With great resistance, a couple of weeks ago, I watched the movie “World Trade Center” directed by Oliver Stone.

Typically I only watch films that make me laugh, inspire me or educate me. I avoid movie that elicit feelings of pain and sorrow and for certain I avoid violent movies. I simply don’t usually 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 likes it’s really happening. Yes, “World Trade Center” was a hard movie too see, but it showed me the love, courage, and power of the human spirit.

Why I watched the “World Trade Center”

My beloved, G, told me in advance that it was based on the true story of two police officers and there families. He told me that it honored the real heroism of humanity and he felt I would be moved in a positive way if I endured the film and took in the story.

Most reluctantly, I began to watch. Yes there were moments that were too intense for me and I had to leave the room until another scene appeared, but at the same time, I was completely captivated by the story line and the way the story was being told. Oliver Stone spared his audience some of the deepest horrors and graphic details as he carefully guided the story with a 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.

What I See Differently Now

(1) Like many people, when I read and hear news about the seemingly endless war that’s been going on all these years, I get very upset – I admit it. Yes, I want it to be over. I want our Troupes to come home. And before this movie, I just couldn’t understand why on earth anyone would join the military. I fall under the category of peace not war.

But now, I can’t bring myself to call it a ‘stupid war’ anymore. I see how disrespectful that is as it disrespects those people who are moved beyond selfishness, moved to go forward and do their part for this great country; this nation. It minimizes their greatness when we fail to see beyond the horror.

(2) 9/11 took nearly 3,000 lives of people from 87 countries. This is more than being about New York and it is more than being about America. This was an attack on people around the world. All acts of terrorism are attacks on our world and our hopes of world peace. Previously, I had a more shallow view as I thought it was the mere selfishness of politics that keep this war going.

(3) Although I have not forgotten the horrors of 9/11, and I have honored that day on each anniversary over the last 9 years. At this moment, my eyes see a wider vision and my heart holds a bigger love. I see the amazing strength of the human spirit. I see an existence where we are moved beyond our selfish motivations. I feel a deeper honor, respect and admiration for those who go beyond themselves for the sake of humanity. It’s patriotism and it’s love of humanity and life.

The Human Spirit

The rescue workers risked there 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.

People barely alive finding something in their own human sprit to keep faith that they will survive. As they Fight to keep alive while they are being physically crushed as the buildings continue to collapse. They struggle to breathe and to talk to each other as a means to keep each other alive and fighting for life and hope.

What is the value of 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.

What is the value of 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.

What is the value of an Open Mind? We can choose our perceptions and we can design our personal character or, life will do this for us. Many of us do not know what we would do in this situation, because we’ve never been it directly.

Humanity

I watched this movie and then watched it again with the commentary from the real heroes not the actors. I have never watched a movie all the way and then sat through it for a second time listening to the commentary – but I was seriously glued. In awe of the strength of the human spirit and the personal resolve to live and still manage to tell their story openly and with compassion, not with bitter anger. In the commentary, Will Jimeno spoke about this horror with a sense of love, compassion, awe and appreciation for all people involved. They did not focus on the hell; they focused on the personal resolve, and on human beings as being fundamentally good, and naturally wanting to doing the right thing such as reaching out and going beyond themselves.

I too believe that human beings are fundamentally good. We are made of great strength, love and selflessness. We do tend to do the right thing.

Our love, our actions, our participation although it might look small and individual, it has a real affect on the world itself. World peace starts with inner peace. When we forgive ourselves, when we forgive life, and those who wronged us, we experience amazing unlimited love and power of the human spirit. If we allow life’s jagged edges to form us into being more compassionate people, then we can be of even better service to others.

9/11 took nearly 3,000 lives and started two wars, which have taken even more lives, but our human spirit is fighting for the freedom to live. Sometimes my own mind doesn’t understand fighting until death, for the freedom of others. Sometimes I get confused at how fighting can lead to peace. But, as I stop my mind, and just contemplate all rescue workers, all policemen/women, firemen/women, all military who are so moved by the human spirit to help others, how can we doubt the human race?

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise September 9, 2010

Thank you for this article!

GOD BLESS AMERICA! GOD BLESS OUR BIG WIDE WONDERFUL WORLD.

Reply

Aileen September 9, 2010

I love your view of our world, “OUR BIG WIDE WONDERFUL WORLD” – when it can appear bleak and and we can see all that is wrong and woe you see “a wonderful world” – your vision will allow others to see the wonderment that is our world.

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Jean Sarauer September 9, 2010

Beautiful post to commemorate the anniversary, Aileen. I find I’m not able to watch movies or even news related to the even much anymore so I haven’t seen the Oliver Stone movie. We’ve got a couple kids in the military and the impact of 911 is with me every time we send them overseas again.
Jean Sarauer´s last [type] ..Don’t Let Your Blogging Boat Sink!

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Aileen September 9, 2010

Jean, I can only begin to imagine what it’s like to have one’s children in the military. I understand how 911 is with you every time you send them overseas again. I have a deeper appreciation than ever before, for those who are in the military and their families.

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Angela Artemis September 9, 2010

Aileen,
I love this article! It’s full of so much wisdom and truth. We, the human species are capable of so much more when we understand that we are continually creating the reality we experience with our thoughts and beliefs.

You put it so well though: 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.

Your photo is almost the exact view I had from my office at one time…I still have a hard time looking at those photos. I lost beloved neighbors, childhood friends, and people I went to high school with that day. A year after in 2002, I went to a wedding of a dear friend who married a fireman from the ladder co. in Brooklyn that lost numerous brave men when the towers collapsed. The widows of his many “brothers” came to the wedding and danced celebrating that life still goes on.

We truly are stronger than any bad thing that befalls us in this life.
Angela Artemis´s last [type] ..Who Creates Your Economy

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Aileen September 11, 2010

Angela, as a New Yorker and some one who has lost people on 9/11 you have a deeper connection – I was hesitant to post this, because I didn’t want to make it feel “light weight” especially to those directly involved. It’s amazing to read your words about the wedding, “The wid­ows of his many “broth­ers” came to the wed­ding and danced cel­e­brat­ing that life still goes on” – it really is profound that they “danced cel­e­brat­ing that life still goes on” – and are able to move forward embracing life and creating their current and future realities.

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Arvind Devalia September 9, 2010

Aileen, thanks for sharing your heart-breaking and yet ultimately inspirational story of hope and courage.

The world needs more than ever before the type of heroes you mentioned, with all those amazing qualities.

Your article also reminded me of my own very poignant memories of that day. We had an American colleague working with us from NYC and she was in shock as she realised that a lot of her colleagues from only 6 months before would have been in the twin towers. Having her there with us brought home the horror even more.

Thanks Aileen for your story of hope and humanity.
Arvind Devalia´s last [type] ..9-11 Remembered- 11 Articles to Sow Peace and Healing

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Aileen September 11, 2010

Thank you for stopping by Arvind. – yes the world does need this type of heroes and I feel that they are being born and coming into their own more and more as our world goes through all of it’s fast changes.

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Lauren September 10, 2010

Dear Aileen,

What a powerful and beautiful post. So many are willing to risk for the sake of others and for humanity. It’s good to be reminded. I especially loved these words you so eloquently stated:

“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”.

“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”.

I remember years ago when several miners were trapped in a Pa. mine. Maybe I was particularly attached to this bc I’m a Pa. “girl”. But, what struck me was the monumental effort to save them, with little hope of doing so.

While I didn’t have a TV I happened to walk into a hotel room as they were bringing the first miner up – alive! All survived and their story was remarkable (I read a book about it). They pulled together down there and decided they would all live or die – TOGETHER.

It’s a beautiful testament to the human spirit. And so was the rescue.

It’s estimated (in a book Blessed Unrest) that nearly 2 million groups are working toward humanitarian and environmental causes. Billions of people care.

You’re obviously one of those people and bless you for that!

Love,
Lauren
Lauren´s last [type] ..Breaking Up Is Hard To Do – How To Avoid Temporary Insanity

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Aileen September 11, 2010

Lauren, thank you for sharing this wonderful static, “It’s esti­mated that nearly 2 mil­lion groups are work­ing toward human­i­tar­ian and envi­ron­men­tal causes” – this is very inspiring! A little bit of personal empowerment, reaching out, – goes along way. It’s incredible that all the little things an individual may contribute can actually lead to creating a “new” world.

I remember the story of the miners – thank you for reminding me. Such an incredible true story!

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Katie September 10, 2010

Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post, Aileen. I love the idea that world peace starts with inner peace. Love of self cannot be separated from love of others or this planet we share. Much love to you.
Katie´s last [type] ..A Simple Guide to Joy Riding

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Aileen September 11, 2010

Thank you for comment Katie. It is so very, very true “Love of self can­not be sep­a­rated from love of oth­ers”

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Cole Stan September 11, 2010

I was still in highschool when this tragic incident happened. Many of us didn’t expect to experience this kind of situation. It’s a bit odd for one powerful place to see one of their famous buildings crashed on others hand.
Cole Stan´s last [type] ..Anniversary Gifts for Men – Rock His World with These Romantic Gifts

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Aileen September 13, 2010

Thank you for your thoughtful comment Cole.

on a lighter note, I really enjoyed visiting your website. You do have unique gift options. :)

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Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point September 11, 2010

I love how you end this post specifically about deepening your faith in humanity, Aileen. I run a grant making foundation and I like to think of myself as a witness to the innumerable organizations that do the hard but necessary work of serving the greater good. It’s not glamorous work to fight the ills of society but many people do it for one reason — because they are compelled to serve. My foundation can’t support a lot of these non-profit organizations but they remind me everyday that there is an incredible amount of good generated, designed and sustained by humanity.

Lovely post.

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Aileen September 14, 2010

Belinda, it sounds like you are fortunate to have a fulfilling work-life. How wonderful to be able to facilitate grants for non profits. – “they remind me every­day that there is an incred­i­ble amount of good gen­er­ated, designed and sus­tained by humanity.” This inspires me
:)

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Preeti @ Heart and Mind September 13, 2010

Aileen,

I remember watching the TV whole day and night! Not too long ago before the event I had visited the world trade center with friends and family which no longer was standing.

I hope all of us have learned hope and peace from it! Thanks for sharing.
Preeti @ Heart and Mind´s last [type] ..What if you had Golden Touch

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