VOX Teen Archive / all

Ten Years: 9/11 Showed Bravery, Resilience

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As I walked into the hotel parking lot, a large crowd of people stood or sat watching the smoke billowing from the towers across the river. My father flashed his key card to the security guard who let us in. As we got to our room, I flipped the channels between “Rolie Polie Olie” on Playhouse Disney and the repeating clips of the planes bursting into the top floors of the World Trade Center. We waited late that evening until my mother finally came home, with wet hair and plastic bag over her shoulders from having been sprayed down for asbestos.

I’d been in the U.S. for nine days exactly. I was only seven years old and didn’t speak any English. I had just moved from Europe and was doing my best just to understand the kids around me, much less a terrorist attack on my new home.

That first week my family and I explored the city. We did everything a foreigner is meant to do upon their first time in New York. I remember visiting the Statue of Liberty that Labor Day Weekend. The day was warm and bright and carried through the whole week, even to the day we visited the World Trade Center. Which tower or which day that happened is all a blur to me. However, I do remember standing in a majestic lobby decorated with flowers and a large, beautiful round floor design. I wanted to go to the top of the building, as my father had a few decades back and I told myself I would come in the coming days to do so-but of course I never got the chance.

The day before 9/11 the sunny weather changed to a grey, foggy and slow haze producing clouds so low they covered the tops of the Twin Towers making only the bottom halves visible. When I think of it now, it was symbolic of the smoke that I saw billowing from the parking lot of my hotel for the next three days. In fact, our hotel was situated in northern New Jersey, on the opposite side of the Hudson River directly aligned with downtown Manhattan. In the coming days we would go to Liberty State Park, where we had a straight-on view of Lower Manhattan. People would gather there at all times of the day to sit and observe the chaos that was happening one hundred feet or so across the river. The drone of sirens and the low buzzing of helicopters filled my head for the coming weeks and my attention remained on this inexplicable event.

After just one week, I felt like I had been thrown into a situation of madness which would have unpredictable consequences on my generation. Nonetheless, the situation pulled me in to the larger New York and American community and gave me reason to feel strongly attached to the United States. Whenever people ask me about moving to America, I start with 9/11 because it helped shape my first impression of the people here: brave and resilient.

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