By Anders Ax
When the planes struck the towers on Sept. 11 a decade ago, it was an advent of change so shocking, so unbelievable, so inconceivable, that any perception of the world we may have imagined turned to dust and ash.
9/11 hit us at our most vulnerable and took what we had held most for granted: our power, our pride, our imagined safety. It forced us to think about who we were and how we were viewed throughout the world.
We had to suddenly define ourselves in that moment of crisis. Our resilience to trials and adversity, our brotherly love to our neighbors in moments of darkness, our unyielding, undying faith and patriotism in ourselves suddenly went out to all those affected and in need. The spirit to act and to help has resonated in the spirit of men and women of our nation. For on that day, all men, women and children living had something emerge from deep within that has since taken form and defined our existence.
We are like the Survivor Tree. A callery pear tree that had stood beneath the Towers. It had been crushed and charred when removed from the wreckage and moved to the Bronx to regain its stature. Once healthy it was replanted within the World Trade Center site and even after Hurricane Irene threw winds over 60 mph up the east coast it still stands.
Ground Zero has since transformed from that rubble in our minds to industry. 1 World Trade Center, “Freedom Tower,” now stands with steel girders pointing upwards 80 stories tall. It will rise to 104 stories, 1,368 feet. Its spire will reach 1,776 feet. Two pools of water marking the footprints of the original towers will be filled with 52,000 gallons of water, their edges inscribed with the 2,982 names of victims stencil-cut into bronze. 1 World Trade Center is schedule to be completed by 2013. On Monday, the World Trade Center memorial in New York City opened to the public.
Two hundred and thirty five years is young for a country and we could not have believed our future if told. In one moment we were violently thrust into a new age and the shockwaves are still seen.
That day is not so easily forgotten.
That morning, crisp and blue, could not have been more surreal for the moments that came and passed. But other images more beautiful and profound honor us: a lone figure gazing through the smoke, strangers held by tears, a row of flags. They speak in volumes and personify the voiceless many and the people of New York and the people of our nation who have since honored and served our borders and who have sacrificed themselves to see that we are safe, that we are, forevermore, the land of the free and home of the brave.
And so we shall be and not ever forget.