By Zena Sultana Babao
Eyes dimmed with shed and unshed tears, we were united as one, in sorrow and in anger, and in a love so strong, a love born of tragedy. “The darkest day in our long history has led to our finest hour.” – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
It happened 19 years ago: The silence of a quiet New York morning was shattered by the senseless attack at the very heart of America’s power and industry. The unspeakable tragedy, the death and devastation, the pain and the grief, and the shock beyond belief – all of these are still fresh in our minds.
The wounds still raw and bleeding, we feel the loss and the pain. Will the passage of years ever dim the memory of that day that tore our hearts to pieces? Time will tell, but not yet.
Grief overcame America when the horrendous attack happened. It was shock and awe, and as more tragedy struck, with the bombing of the Pentagon and the downing of United Airlines Flight 93, our country experienced the deadliest day in American history, costing more lives than the attack on Pearl Harbor Day.
This was certainly another day of infamy, too real and too painful for us who witnessed it with our eyes, and in our century! But with a difference – for this day in infamy not only claimed the lives of thousands – but disrupted our economy, grounded our transportation system, halted the sports and entertainment industry, and leveled to the ground the very symbols of America’s freedom and prosperity. This time, the targets were civilians and not soldiers; the buildings that crumbled were not battleships of war; and the enemy’s planes were our own jetliners turned into weapons of mass murder and destruction.
Eyes dimmed with shed and unshed tears, we were united as one, in sorrow and in anger, and in a love so strong, a love born of tragedy. “The darkest day in our long history has led to our finest hour,” concluded Mayor Rudy Giuliani. For tragedy has a way of uniting and bringing the best in people! America was dealt a terrible blow. But America is strong and America will endure. And it did!
We will always remember the bravery and heroism of the first responders and the rescuers who worked long and hard despite the danger. Many even gave the ultimate sacrifice! We will always remember the gallantry of the passengers of the doomed plane, United Flight 93, who sacrificed their lives to save more lives.
The flood of emotion will again be back, flashing back from shock and horror to anger and patriotism, followed once more by tears. But what will be foremost in our minds is how our country came together during that tragic time.
As the flood of memories comes rolling in, let us keep in mind the timeless words of our great 40th President, Ronald Reagan, who said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once was like in the United States where men are free.”
Just like in the previous 17 years, the centerpiece of the memorial services will most probably be a continuous reading of the names of those innocent lives lost. Roses will again be strewn at the One World Trade Center Complex built over Ground Zero. Standing on 16 acres of premium New York soil, the Complex was completed and will formally be opened this month. This Complex is more than just a real estate project. It is a kind of rehabilitation for those hurt by the terrorists; and it’s also a way to heal the scars of our nation.
Our emphasis this year will be reflection and renewal as we pray to the Great Giver of Life, our Almighty God, for peace and love to reign. God bless America! Let freedom ring!