La Jolla resident Lorri Sabban remembers 9/11
By Lorri Sabban
Twelve years later, our country pauses to remember the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, which reduced the World Trade Center to rubble and turned it into an instant gravesite for nearly 3,000 victims. Today, Ground Zero is home to One World Trade Center, (the tallest building in the United States), a museum, and a memorial paying respect to the innocent people who perished on Sept. 11, 2001.
At our annual family reunion in New York this summer, we reminisced about the unifying moments we remembered from that gut-wrenching day. My brother was working at The Bank of New York on Wall Street. Once the planes struck the World Trade Center, the area became a disaster zone, and his best recourse was to walk uptown toward our parents’ place.
On his way, he was lucky to catch a ferry to New Jersey where he lived with his wife, and he physically escaped the mayhem that had struck NYC’s financial epicenter.
Our mom was near Central Park on the upper westside and smelled the acrid smoke billowing from the attack located over a hundred blocks downtown.
Meanwhile, I was living in San Diego, feeling helpless and worried. We didn’t know if this was an isolated attack or if there was more to come. The phones were jammed as we stayed glued to the TV watching the horrifying footage of the World Trade Center under attack. No one will ever forget the images of New York City’s brave firemen lugging their heavy equipment into the burning buildings trying to rescue as many people as possible, the sheer panic as people ran for their lives as the North tower was ablaze and a second plane crashed into the South tower, and then the devastating collapse of both buildings. It was like a war zone. The impossible had happened and we watched in helpless disbelief.
Each summer since, the thought of going to visit Ground Zero crossed my mind, but the feelings were still too raw. My hometown had been attacked and thousands of people killed. Still, it had become my mission to visit the 9/11 Memorial for the first time.
In July, my husband, two sons and I took the subway to the last stop. As got off and approached the site, I recalled the glimmering beauty of the twin towers and the special occasion years ago when my parents took me to Windows on the World restaurant atop the former One World Trade Center, riding the elevator to the 107th floor and enjoying dinner in the tallest skyscraper in the city. While I don’t remember what we ate, the view was spectacular.
At the revitalized site, my family and I gazed upon the new awe-inspiring One World Trade Center building, also known as the Freedom Tower. It was designed by Michael Arad, an Israeli architect, who also created “Reflecting Absence,” the matching footprints with tranquil waterfalls, artfully framed with the victims names engraved in bronze overlooking the empty pools of flowing water filling the void of where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Extensive time and contemplation went into rebuilding this hallowed ground to give it the perfect blend of a memorial to honor the dead and a breath of new life for the cosmopolitan area that once thrived with hard-working people.
As we walked around the footprints and read the names, we remembered the Sept. 11th tragedy and the many precious lives lost in one senseless act of violence. It is no longer a disaster zone, but instead it is a sacred zone for visitors to come, reflect, and honor the memory of 9/11 victims … and to never forget.
By next year, Condé Nast and other prestigious companies will occupy One World Trade Center, adding glitz and glamour to an area being reinvented while overcoming its tragic past with patience and fortitude.
(Author’s note: Patience and Fortitude are the names of NYC’s Library Lions. They are words used to describe the nature of New Yorkers. While some people may not grasp the meaning of those two words together, true blue New Yorkers will understand.)
On the Web
• Read more about the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at 911memorial.org
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