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This day will always mean more to me than some think it should. I'm not American; I wasn't affected directly by the tragedies; and yet, I was profoundly changed.
I remember vividly how I felt that day but only in flashes.
I remember my confusion at why there was an action movie on all of the channels on the television. Then the slowly dawning realization that it was all real as the second plane hit.
I remember being glued to the television, praying that there would be a miracle and that there was a hope of rescue.
I remember feeling numb, a numbness that shattered when the television cameras showed the people who made the choice to jump instead of being burned alive.
I remember feeling horror and being unable to turn away and feeling sick that that had been their last best hope of escaping the flames.
I remember my rage at the media for showing them falling and replaying it endlessly.
I remember bursting into tears as the towers I had once stood under in awe on a whirlwind trip to NYC crumbled to the earth. I cried for the loss of what was left of my innocence in a cascade of suffering felt around the world.
I remember the sorrow I felt when images from the other side of the world surfaced that showed them celebrating the tragedy, because I knew that we were all complicit in the situations that led to this being the only way the radicals of one religion felt they could be heard.
I remember in the days following the fear everywhere on the earth under the silent skies.
Most of all, I remember the clear blue silent sky overhead, unmarred by the passage of man, and my broken soul trying to parse it all and failing.
Later that month, I had a nervous breakdown that led to the loss of everything I was working for at that point in my life. Nothing much about the life I had been pursuing - the typical consumer driven lifestyle - mattered anymore. To tell the truth it still doesn't because as horrific as that day was, it changed nothing about how humanity dealt with one another. We still need someone to talk to - people we see, for whatever reason, as being our kind - and someone to sweep the floor, those we have arrogantly labeled as inferior.
I will never forget. And in doing so, I pray that my remembering helps keep another day like this from happening. I am more afraid of extremists of all religious and political stripes now that I have seen how faith and fervour can lead to tragedy. I'm not a man who believes in God. Maybe once there was a time for that but it passed. But I viewed the world through romantic eyes - that is to say that I believed in the fundamental goodness of humanity to do the right thing and help each other - and this is the way that I have been changed by this day... I still believe that just not as strongly as I once did.
I want to believe.
I just can't.
But I will always remember.
I will never forget.