I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since the terrorist attacks occurred destroying New York City’s World Trade Center where many lost their lives while many died from the effects of the dust the filled the air around the area.
I was living with my mom and sister at the time and that morning I had woke to begin my day. I went to vote, then headed on the train to Times Square to connect with the Q train to take me to Brooklyn where I was attending Brooklyn College. The day seemed to be going well until I reached the platform to catch the Q train and I noticed that the train was entering the station at a slow pace. Slower than usual. As soon as the train had pulled into the station, the conductor made it’s usual announcement and as soon as I took my seat the train still continued to stay in the station. I assumed that we were being held into the station due to delays by the N train which had crossed in front of us a few minutes prior to the Q train’s arrival. The conductor had made an announcement that due to signal problems the train was going to be held in the station. During that time construction was being done on the left side of the Manhattan Bridge where the B and D train crossed which was the reason why transit decided to add an addition Q Express to allow passengers to who used the Brighton Beach line to get to and from Manhattan as well as connect with he B and D trains which was being terminated at 34 Street. A few minutes later the conductor made a shocking and sad announcement. “Passengers, due to an explosion at the World Trade Center, this train is out of service. I’m sorry for the inconveience.” I was shocked. Did he say that there was an explosion at the World Trade Center I asked myself. The conductor made the same announcement and I rushed to return home. As I made my way to catch the 3 train, I saw many passengers rushing to the pay phones to call their bosses to inform them that they wouldn’t be attending work due to the announcement. Once I arrived on the platform, I had missed the train and from my experience riding the 7th Avenue Subway line, I knew that the uptown bound trains was going be crowded, so I decided to take another route home, but as soon as got to 59 Street, I learned that subway service was canceled and I had to take the bus home. After leaving the subway, I saw a mob of people waiting for the bus to take them uptown and while we waited 2 buses passed by including one without passengers refusing to stop despite cops waving for them to stop for us. It seem like the bus drivers wanted to get home to their loved ones too. (They could have stopped being that it was only between 10 and 16 of us waiting). Many passengers had asked the cops and transit workers was the buses still running and I’m not sure if what was said, but I believed that there was mixed answers about delays and a shortage of buses running. I decided to walk home. ( I actually had no choice but to walk home). My focus was on getting home and I had no idea how tired I was until I saw the arrival of the 8th Avenue bus arriving at 113 Street. I hoped on that bus with the quickness and though I had to stand I was relived to get a ride. The ride was a short one. As soon as we got around 120 Street the bus driver had informed us that we had to get off because she had to return down town to pick up additional passengers. As I waked towards the front of the bus, there was a Black Senior Citizen who had plopped in the seat gasping for air. The Black female bus driver had screamed at her to get off. When the senior tried to explain to her that she wasn’t feeling well and she need to rest for a minute, the bus driver had the nerve to scream at her “YOU HAVE TO GET OFF!! I HAVE TO TAKE THE BUS BACK DOWNTOWN!! YOU GOTTA GET OFF!!” Many of the reminder passengers were beyond pissed at the driver for being disrespectful to the senior citizen. A few even confronted the driver telling her that she didn’t have to be respectful to the lady and that she could have helped her off. (I know those passengers wanted to curse the driver out). After walking a few more blocks, another bus arrived and I made sure my ass got on that bus due to me becoming fatiqued, and while this bus was just a crowded, the driver a Black Male kept us informed with his route and as soon as get near my stop, he informed the passengers that he was going to the Bronx and for those who wasn’t going to the Bronx this was the last change for the passengers to get off. Half of the passengers got off while many who hopped on.
As soon as I arrived home, my mother had asked me was I alright and how did I get home. I told her and that’s when I learned that there wasn’t an explosion at the World Trade Center. The Twin Towers were destroyed. I watched the news and I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears!! I had many emotions that ran through my mind. How did this happen? Why did this happen? I attended an event there. I copped MJ’s Moonwalk autobiography from a book store there. I dropped my book bag on the floor and began to call my friends to see if they were ok. A few of them were home safe. A few friends I had trouble reaching. One of my late friends had told me that our friend who witness the second tower being attacked had fleed to his home where he allowed her to stay until she was able to return home that evening. Both had to walk back to Brooklyn while one was able to catch a gypsy van home. As I watched the news and later learned about the attacks, I got angry. How dare some jackasses high jack a plane for hatred I said to myself. My anger increased when I spoke to one of my best friends who happens to be an Indian from the Caribbean who informed me that people was calling him a terrorist and wanted to attack him. I also spoke to one of my friends who informed me that she saw many Arabs near her mother’s home making fun of what happened and putting down Americans saying they got what they deserve and if my memory is clear, some even tried to attack. Their ignorant remarks resulted by them getting American Ass kicking and whippings by the Americans. I was more pissed!! My best friend didn’t have the right to be judged and put in a box because of his race while the Arabs who were living in America had no business making fun of innocent people losing their lives. (I don’t condone violence and I don’t judge or put people in boxes, but those who attack with their hands deserve to get smacked back).
The following day I was feeling physically ill so I went to the doctor and I was told that I was suffering from stress and an ear infection and advised to return home and get some rest which I did along with watching videos. The following days I returned to school and noticed that many passengers on the train were going about their day like nothing happened. The vibe that I got was that many were still pissed at what happened, but decided that they wasn’t going to allow what occurred to disrupt their lives and to dampen their spirits. Many have said that the attacks helped them realize not to take life for granted and to be grateful to be alive. The attacks also helped many get connected and re-connected with God while many decided to live their lives and to not allow anyone or thing put limitations on them. In fact Out Rapper/Songwriter Kaoz who was in New York celebrating his birthday had told me that seeing the attacks had made him decide to become involve in activism which includes pursuing a career as a Openly Gay Rapper. He’s released several hit albums and singles including “Human” and other social conscious songs including a tribute to Trayvon Martin. He also works an a center which raises awareness for HIV.
How did it affect me? While it made me angry that innocent people were attack, it helped me see that I do have inner strength and having inner strength can help me overcome many things in life. I’m still taking time to realize that. I did however did have riding a certain subway route and whenever I would have to take that route (especially when the Q train wasn’t going on it’s normal route due to construction) I would listen to music, close my eyes and meditate as we traveled through the tunnel. As I mentioned earlier I was on the train when the announcement about the Twin Towers being destroyed were made and being that the train was underground it did caused me to have anxiety attacks.
During the time, many organizations were raising funds for the survivors and victim’s families to survive and while many wanted to give funds to those who worked in the corporate divisions and offices, many were saying that funds needed to be raised for the families of the janitors and those who worked at the book stores and fast food stands.
Another thing that effected me about the terrorist attacks was learning that Legendary Singer/Songwriter Donna Summer had died from non-smoking related lung cancer nearly a decade after 911. She and her husband Bruce Sudano were living near the Twin Towers at the time where she was working on a musical about her life, and like many, the dust. debree had caused many to become ill and Donna was diagnosed 10 months before she died in May 2012.
While a new set of Twin Towers have been re-built, I still have Reflections of the times that I attended the World Trade Center to attend 2 events with the mentoring program I was a part of in high school as well as copping Michael Jackson’s original copy of his memoirs “Moonwalk.” While the attacks were tragic and many lives were affected and lost, there are many who refuse to allow the hate of others to dampen their spirits. Myself included. I take life one day and step at a time and I’m glad that I’m still alive and continue to life live.
Songs inspired by this post
ANGEL BY O’MEGA RED & DONNA SUMMER
LOVE IS THE HEALER BY DONNA SUMMER
RELEASED IN 1999
REFLECTIONS BY DIANA ROSS & THE SUPREMES
HUMAN BY KAOZ
RELEASED AROUND 2010/2011
SURVIVOR BY DESTINY’S CHILD
RELEASED IN 2001
WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE BY NICK AUDAIN
This post is dedicated to all of the New Yorkers around the world. This blog is also dedicated to Rapper Kaoz who was born on 911. This post is also dedicated the survivors and families of those who lost their lives including Donna Summer.