Inspired by an earlier lengthy instagram post, I debated posting this, not posting this... but here goes...
We all remember where we were 14 years ago today. At age 15, just a week or so prior to September 11th, I went back to school shopping in the city with my mom at Century 21. As we left the store, I looked up at the twin towers and asked my mom if we could go up to the observation deck, something I had never done. My mom said we had to catch our train back upstate and we could go next time. That moment never came, the next time I was in the city, those towers were in shambles on the ground and our world had been turned upside-down.
Tuesday, when the towers fell, I happened to be home from school with a stomach bug. When I awoke, my mom greeted me by saying "It's a horrible day!", as both planes had already struck each of the towers. I watched everything unfold with my mom, while my dad (who was on his way to NYC) called to let us know he was turning around and coming home.
I was back in New York City just days after September 11th. I witnessed the chaos, despair and most importantly the selflessness of others. With fire & smoke still billowing out of the rubble, and a thick layer of ash lining the streets of lower Manhattan, my stomach churned. I took missing persons flyers that were thrust into my hands by strangers. I wrote whatever kind words I could think of on a makeshift wall, along with an "in memory of..." for a classmate I knew who lost a loved one. Witnessing the destruction first hand was so much different than seeing it on television. I have a great understanding for the sacrafices people were making for strangers, because I was there to see it happening. I don't claim to be an expert, and I'm thankful that my family was not affected by the days events, but there is one takeaway I want to share.
The one beautiful thing that stands out to me when I think back on that tragic week, is witnessing the kindness, selflessness and unity in New York City.
Since I have an audience, I thought I'd use this as an opportunity to offer up a reminder and a challenge to my readers:
As you go throughout your day and your weekend following the 14 year anniversary, try to be extra kind to others. It's a difficult day for so many families.
I challenge you to honor the day by doing something so thoughtful for another person (or group of people) that it takes you out of your comfort zone. We aren't nearly as kind to one another as we should be. It should not have to take a tragedy for us to help one another. Look for every opportunity to not just extend extra patience, but to try to make a difference in someones life.
I think that an act of kindness or thoughtfulness would be a beautiful way to honor the memories of all of the lives taken too soon, and it certainly honors the courage and generosity I witnessed 14 years ago.
If you happen to find yourself in NYC, go down to One World Trade and take a few moments to honor the memory of all those who lost lives, while working hard to provide for their families. The memorial is beautiful and the museum has been crafted perfectly to not only educate, but to honor the lives lost. Remember when you visit, please be respectful and remember that this is a source of deep pain for some visitors. Don't let your children run around screaming, don't take silly selfies, just take it all in and absorb.
If you accept my challenge, I would love to read about your acts of kindness in the comments, or privately via email: Valerie@TrustedTravelGirl.com