I miss the World Trade Center. I loved those towers, and that Manhattan skyline they created along with the Empire State Building. I wish I hadn’t kept putting off going up to the observation deck.
I miss the days when the word “America” stood for accomplishing great things. In these 10 years, Dubai built the Burj Khalifa, while Beijing and Shanghai stood up one impressive structure after the next. Meanwhile we still wait on the first tower to rise at Ground Zero (which is what I will continue to call it until all construction is finished, no matter what Mayor Bloomberg says). It’s an absolute disgrace.
I miss when I could look at a fire truck passing by without a heavy heart. And living where I live, that’s pretty much every day.
I miss the time when America was looked to by the rest of the world as a shining example of democracy. That shine has definitely come off. And with it, our ability to legitimately champion human rights in other parts of this globe has been neutered.
I miss my old office, and the view I had from my cubicle on the 87th floor of Tower 1. I miss the feeling of awe I would have when I would leave home on a cloudy day, and walk into an office that was sunny because we were literally above the clouds. And I miss the 20 minute door-to-door commute I had, despite which (or probably because of which) I was thankfully late on that fateful day.
I miss being presumed innocent until proven guilty. And I hate that we are now conditioned to accept being presumed suspicious until proven safe.
I miss MSN IM. Not because it was any good, but because of what it will forever mean to me. When the towers went down, all forms of communication went out in the area – phone lines, cell phones, you name it. But the internet and IM was still there. By daisy chaining conversations (I think there was a limit of 5 people on the same conversation at the time), the Thor folks who got home were able to stay connected all day. One-by-one, painfully slowly, we would get and spread the word that another one of us had been located safe and alive. Reading the conversations I saved, some of the exchanges still send a chill down my spine. By the end of the night, the last person was accounted for; the feeling of relief was overwhelming in its intensity.
I miss going on the subway system and not seeing soldiers armed with automatic rifles every few weeks like clockwork – a reminder of what life has become.
I miss cherishing the possibility of air travel, instead of dreading it. Not because of the threat of terrorism, but because of what I may have to go through at security (and have a couple of times). Thanks, TSA.
I miss when this nation had a guiding conscience. We applaud firefighters and the NYPD when we see them at ceremonies, cheer for them before our games begin at stadiums. Yet when it comes to taking care of them, or doing something meaningful for them, we do nothing. They are the first in line when it comes to budget cuts, and work for ridiculously low pay. It took Jon Stewart weeks of talking about it and finally going on the offensive to do one of his finest shows ever to get the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act passed at the end of last year. And there is no lasting tribute to them at the 9/11 memorial. Don’t even get me started on how we treat our troops and veterans of the necessary (but botched) and unnecessary wars abroad. It’s a travesty.
I miss the Thor team. What we went through post 9/11 to pull our company’s fortunes out of the ashes of the WTC and stand it up again was amazing. We lost almost everything that day except our people, but that was enough. We banded together, put in hellishly long hours despite not knowing if the next paycheck was coming, and clawed our way back from oblivion to create a company that I still proudly name any time I have to introduce my background. We were a great family. And like so many families, have not stayed in touch the way we really should have.
I miss the United States of America. We were united like nothing else after 9/11. But the destruction that was wrought that fateful day extended far deeper into our national psyche than we have ever acknowledged. Maybe it is just the fringe talking, but the divisions in my adopted home have never felt as pronounced as they do now. I hate that the loudest chants of “USA! USA!” come from the same folks that also throw out “my America” and “taking back my country“, like I don’t belong. I hate that I can’t disagree with a viewpoint without being labeled a traitor or told that I’m “with” the terrorists.
I miss feeling like I will live forever. Now I live like there may be no tomorrow. The wife has never viewed this as a welcome development.
I miss the sense of purpose we had as a nation, especially after the attacks. It doesn’t feel like we know what we stand for any more, all grandstanding and empty rhetoric aside. And I even miss the sense of purpose it created for me at work. Succeeding in our endeavor took on a very personal tone after that day, which is why moving on after 10 years was so hard despite it being painfully clear that it was time.
One thing I do not miss is my love for New York City. Because you can’t miss something that is very much still there. It’s one of the main reasons why I haven’t moved to the west coast, even though that is clearly the thing to do for my career. This is the greatest city in the world, and not just because of how it responded to the attacks – with resilience, with resolve, with courage. Being a New Yorker meant one thing before 9/11, something completely different afterwards. I cling to that memory – the best in all of us on display that day – as hope for the future. And while it is definitely still flawed in many ways, what endures and rises above is the spirit and energy that flows through NYC, drives it, makes it tick.
Memorial ceremonies are about to start. So much was lost that day. We may have moved on, but have never forgotten. And never will.
, Jon Stewart
, New York City
, September 11
, The Daily Show
, Thor Technologies
, World Trade Center