Maybe I’m just tired of people telling me to never forget 9/11. What I won’t forget is how we blew up Iraq and killed a lot of innocent people before determining there were no weapons of mass destruction. I won’t forget how many times President Biden mentioned we spent over $300,000,000 a day for 20-years while in Afghanistan as I see people go hungry, homeless, and uneducated all around me. And I won’t forget 9/11 from the vantage point of my apartment in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York about an hour after I voted in the NYC primary election that fateful day.
I would have been in the World Trade Tower at noon on 9/11. That’s where I would have caught the PATH train to Newark, NJ to make a transaction with a friend. No worries. In typical New York fashion, terrorists don’t stop no show, and the subways were up and running again on 9/12 allowing me to catch the PATH to Newark at a different station and complete our transaction one day later.
New York was bruised but not dead on 9/12. The Q-train ride over the East River on the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn offered an amazing view of the two smoldering pillars of smoke still rising from the World Trade Center rubble. There were about a dozen of us in the train car all looking out the window with a bird’s eye view and stunned silence. There were a few sniffles and whimpers as the train slowly – very slowly – creeped across the bridge on that otherwise bright and sunny morning. I arrived at Journal Square, caught the PATH, met up with my buddy in Newark, made the round trip back, all without incident.
Brooklyn never missed a beat as the landscape of people and their activity didn’t change at all. But, Manhattan, 5.25 miles away, was a ghost town for the next couple months. It was crazy not seeing throngs of people crowding the streets of NYC. It served as a definitive study on how few people live in Manhattan compared to tourists and business travelers who populate NYC streets on a daily basis. Stores and restaurants were closing one-by-one, day-by-day, because no one was spending money. Slowly but surely, the city came back to life within about 90-days.
I watched a little of the 9/11 coverage on TV yesterday. Much of it focused on the first responders who lost their lives attempting to rescue people during the tragedy. Of the 2,977 victims of 9/11, 412 are listed as first responders.
COVID coverage took a back seat to 9/11 coverage yesterday. Maybe it’s convenient and comforting to remember the 20-year-old tragedy and forget the tragedy that’s right before us. In the past year and a half, 660,000 American’s have died of COVID. That’s 215 9/11s. There are probably more than 412 first responders who have died from complications of COVID. Despite all that, while 9/11 remembrances were being aired on several TV channels, several other channels showed college football stadiums filled with 60-70-114,000 people, most without the most basic protection of a mask.
It’s hard for me to remember 9/11 when all I see is the COVID tragedy unfolding right in front of my eyes everyday. I’ve lost a couple family members to COVID and I consider myself lucky to not know more people lost to the disease. I’ve seen friends suffer with the disease and recover and other friends contract the disease even while fully vaccinated.
For now, I’ve been personally spared from the grips of the COVID disease much like I was spared from being in the World Trade Center at noon on 9/11. Both feel like close calls/near misses. But the COVID season isn’t over helping me to forget 9/11 for now.
No doubt, the United States changed overnight after 9/11. The same will be said if and when we get through COVID.