9/11 Forced New Yorkers to Acknowledge Our Humanity

The Lesson September 11 Taught a Hurried New Yorker

Yahoo Contributor Network

Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.

Ten years ago, I was your typical hurried New Yorker.

There was never enough time, so everything had to go exactly according to schedule and even casual activities required careful orchestration. Work took precedence over family, and anything that disrupted my plans was a nuisance.

[Your story: How has September 11 changed you?]

September 11, 2001, was the day that everything changed for me because it altered my priorities. The last thing the passengers in those airplanes did before they died was place calls to their families to tell them how much they loved them. That was the most important thing in the moments before their imminent deaths, reaching out to their loved ones. Nothing else mattered, not schedules, lists or ridiculous goals.

The morning of the attacks, the local news reported that a passenger airplane crashed into the first tower at the World Trade Center; however, they did not know whether the crash was accidental or intentional. The moment the second airplane struck the second tower, everyone knew that it was intentional. Within minutes, my phone was ringing as former classmates from elementary school to college called to check in and report news of fatalities. Unfortunately, several of my former classmates died that day. It didn't make sense then, and it still doesn't make sense today. Everyone who died on September 11 mattered to someone. They were more than just names. They were sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands and wives.

Like a razor-sharp machete, September 11 divided time in half -- before 9/11 and after 9/11.

Before 9/11, many of my single friends and I wanted to emulate the characters on the show "Sex and the City" with their casual dating and nonchalant attitudes about love. They were our heroes.

After 9/11, we had real life heroes to idolize. Serious monogamous relationships replaced casual serial dating. We desperately yearned for the comfort of a stable predictable relationship and craved security because we felt so vulnerable and helpless. My unhappily married friends struggled to repair their troubled marriages, while my happily married friends had more children. Maybe it was a desperate attempt to feel in control at a time when we felt so out of control and powerless.

I will admit that New Yorkers are a rough bunch, but that is due to necessity. At any given time, there is something going on in this city -- crime, disease, bed bugs, you name it; however, if you look closely under our hard exteriors and tough attitudes, we are just like everyone else. The 9/11 attacks forced us to acknowledge our humanity and connection with the rest of the world. After the attack, we desperately needed tourists. We begged you to visit our city, and you did. Thank you.

Sept. 11, 2001, put so many things into perspective. The victims who died that day taught me what is truly important in life, and that is a lesson I will never forget. Today, I take time to savor my relationships. In the end, that's all that really matters.

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