It has been a decade since the September 11th attacks that redefined our nation. I, like most other Americans, will never forget where I was on that fateful morning. After all, September 11th, 2001 was my first day of high school in Manhattan! Fortunately, my family and friends who were around the World Trade Center survived the attacks without any injuries. Nonetheless, my sense of safety was shattered. The horrible stench of smoke and debris haunted me for months. I was afraid to go to school every morning, let alone walk outside on my own.
While fear and anger were certainly a normal reaction to terrorism, it was a physically and emotionally unhealthy way to live for any length of time. I recognized that I needed to think critically about who I considered to be my enemies, rather than making generalizations based on false stereotypes and consequently being afraid all the time around other people in the street. Otherwise, I would live my entire life in trepidation. My first step towards healing was avoiding buying into Islamophobia or other propaganda that seemed like it was perpetuating blind hatred against other people.
I addressed my fears by sitting in on multiple interfaith dialogues, making an effort to learn more about Islam. This contributed to my healing process. While there was certainly nothing purely good to come out of this atrocious act of terrorism, the subsequent efforts in my community to promote tolerance and diversity helped me trust different kinds of people on a more intimate level. Over time, that helped my insides relax and helped me regain some of my resiliency. I am proud of myself and the many ways in which the residents of the melting pot that is New York City came together in solidarity to promote respect and understanding after this event.
Share your memories of September 11 and your thoughts about its lasting impact on our nation.