by Avens O’Brien

Today is September 11, 2016. Fifteen years ago today, nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial airline jets, two of which forever changed the skyline of one of America’s most beloved cities.

I could use this anniversary to talk about how our country came together in the months following the attacks. I could tell you my perspective on how our politicians did and continue to capitalize on the public’s fear of further attacks. I could tell you about what I perceive as foreign and domestic policy mishaps prior to and after the attacks, about blowback and wars of concept. I could tell you that five years ago the public learned that the alleged mastermind behind these attacks met his end at the hands of US Navy Seals. But those things happened after, and I want to talk about that day, and this one.

I could tell you where I was when it happened. I could tell you who I lost. I could ask you where you were and who you lost. But the significance of September 11, 2001 isn’t about you or me. I can tell you where we weren’t.

Neither of us were one of the nineteen hijackers.

We were not one of the 246 passengers or crew aboard United 93, United 175, American 11 or American 77.

We were not one of the 411 first responding personnel of the FDNY, NYPD, Port Authority Police Department, EMTs or paramedics who died trying to rescue people or fight fires.

We were not one of the 658 employees at Cantor Fitzgerald, nor were we among the 358 employees of March Inc. or the 175 employees of Aon Corporation, all of whom where trapped above the point of impact and had no chance of escape.

In fact, we weren’t one of the 1,355 people in the North Tower at or above point of impact.  We weren’t one of the 107 below who didn’t make it.

We weren’t one of the 630 people in the South Tower, which thankfully had begun evacuating after the North Tower was hit.

We weren’t one of the 125 people killed at the Pentagon, 55 of whom were military personnel.

We weren’t one of the 2,977 innocent people who died that day as a result of this terrorist attack.

I wasn’t there. I was safe. I was alive. I am safe. I am alive. I hope you are safe. If you’re reading this, you are alive.

We are alive. We’ve been able to process, come to terms with, place blame for, theorize, respond, and capitalize on a shared moment in time in which many were murdered – and we live on.

It’s September 11, 2016. Fifteen years ago today, nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial airline jets, two of which forever changed the skyline of one of America’s most beloved cities.

Today is just another day that we are still alive.

I’m appreciative of that fact. Please, use today to appreciate that fact.

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