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9/11 Remembered

My father told me he remembers being in the gym at Brooklyn Prep the day President John F. Kennedy was killed. He says the stunned and sad silence that washed over the whole school will be forever in his memory. That tragic day back in 1963, our nation came together to mourn. How could this have happened? The questions go unanswered, years have passed, and an eternal flame reminds us of the day that our world stood still.

On September 11, 2001, I was in my apartment in Los Angeles. The phone rang and being so early on the west coast I let it go to the answering machine. No message was left. The phone immediately rang again, and this time I hopped out of bed to answer it. Living 3,000 miles from my family and friends on the east coast, I figured something important must be going on.

When I answered the phone it wasn't anyone from back home but a friend from LA telling me to turn on the television because "New York City had been attacked." Knowing I was born in New York and have so much family here, I got calls one after another from friends asking if everyone was OK. I didn't know what to say. Like the stunned silence my father recalls from November 22, 1963, I, too, felt almost paralyzed as I sat in front of my TV learning what was happening in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

I tried to call everyone I could as fast as I could, but I wasn't able to get through. I prayed out loud and wanted to run home. When I finally got my mother on the phone, she told me that my dad was flying at the time and that she was waiting to hear from him. I can't describe the pit I felt in my stomach. My mother, as strong a person as I know, calmly told me to stay by the phone and that she'd call me soon.

Each of the next 30 minutes felt like a year. I watched the coverage and cried. I remembered how much I love the City of New York and how I'd been down to visit friends who worked at the World Trade Center many times. I thought of the people there working that day, their families, and I continued to ask myself, "How is this happening?"

The phone rang again. I answered to hear my mother's voice. My dad had landed safely in Orlando and was looking to rent a car to drive back home. I was relieved beyond belief and asked her if she had heard anything else about uncles and cousins who were members of the FDNY and NYPD. My mom told me to say prayers and think good thoughts for everyone.

The rest of that day I was fixed on the TV. I watched in horror as the buildings collapsed, the Pentagon and remains of Flight 93 burned in Washington and that field in Pennsylvania.

At round 5pm that night, I walked to my corner deli to get something to eat. The streets of Hollywood were as quiet as I'd ever seen them. I passed a few people as I walked. It seemed that we all shared that same sad look and were twisted up with anger, confusion, and fear. We were on the other side of the country and still felt as if we were there. If there was one thing that helped me through that day, it was that. The feeling that as different as we all are, as much as we argue and let little things drive us apart, Americans always instinctively look out for each other and remain a family in every respect of the word.

It has been 10 years since that terrible September morning. We take the day to reflect on those lost, the heroes who gave all of themselves without question, and we continue to nurse a wound that will never fully heal as best we can.

Today I'm back here in New York City. I'm proud to see that, despite the tears and heavy hearts, we are proving that the lives that were taken that day are honored in the best possible way-- by all of us living our lives with strength and hope. We stare down the cowards who tried to break us by standing together, held up and united by those who watch over and protect us. We will never forget, but we are allowing ourselves to find peace again.

We lost so much on September 11, 2001, but the thing that they can never take away is the kind of people that we are as a nation. Like a great, championship team, we look each other in the eyes as if to say, "We'll get it done together."

No matter what your political or religious beliefs may be, today and every day, let's focus on the things that bring us together and give a moment to those who we can no longer see, but will be with us forever.

My father told me he remembers being in the gym at Brooklyn Prep the day President John F. Kennedy was killed. He says the stunned and sad silence that washed over the whole school will be forever in his memory. That tragic day back in 1963, our nation came together to mourn. How could this have happened? The questions go unanswered, years have passed, and an eternal flame reminds us of the day that our world stood still.

On September 11, 2001, I was in my apartment in Los Angeles. The phone rang and being so early on the west coast I let it go to the answering machine. No message was left. The phone immediately rang again, and this time I hopped out of bed to answer it. Living 3,000 miles from my family and friends on the east coast, I figured something important must be going on.

When I answered the phone it wasn't anyone from back home but a friend from LA telling me to turn on the television because "New York City had been attacked." Knowing I was born in New York and have so much family here, I got calls one after another from friends asking if everyone was OK. I didn't know what to say. Like the stunned silence my father recalls from November 22, 1963, I, too, felt almost paralyzed as I sat in front of my TV learning what was happening in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

I tried to call everyone I could as fast as I could, but I wasn't able to get through. I prayed out loud and wanted to run home. When I finally got my mother on the phone, she told me that my dad was flying at the time and that she was waiting to hear from him. I can't describe the pit I felt in my stomach. My mother, as strong a person as I know, calmly told me to stay by the phone and that she'd call me soon.

Each of the next 30 minutes felt like a year. I watched the coverage and cried. I remembered how much I love the City of New York and how I'd been down to visit friends who worked at the World Trade Center many times. I thought of the people there working that day, their families, and I continued to ask myself, "How is this happening?"

The phone rang again. I answered to hear my mother's voice. My dad had landed safely in Orlando and was looking to rent a car to drive back home. I was relieved beyond belief and asked her if she had heard anything else about uncles and cousins who were members of the FDNY and NYPD. My mom told me to say prayers and think good thoughts for everyone.

The rest of that day I was fixed on the TV. I watched in horror as the buildings collapsed, the Pentagon and remains of Flight 93 burned in Washington and that field in Pennsylvania.

At round 5pm that night, I walked to my corner deli to get something to eat. The streets of Hollywood were as quiet as I'd ever seen them. I passed a few people as I walked. It seemed that we all shared that same sad look and were twisted up with anger, confusion, and fear. We were on the other side of the country and still felt as if we were there. If there was one thing that helped me through that day, it was that. The feeling that as different as we all are, as much as we argue and let little things drive us apart, Americans always instinctively look out for each other and remain a family in every respect of the word.

It has been 10 years since that terrible September morning. We take the day to reflect on those lost, the heroes who gave all of themselves without question, and we continue to nurse a wound that will never fully heal as best we can.

Today I'm back here in New York City. I'm proud to see that, despite the tears and heavy hearts, we are proving that the lives that were taken that day are honored in the best possible way-- by all of us living our lives with strength and hope. We stare down the cowards who tried to break us by standing together, held up and united by those who watch over and protect us. We will never forget, but we are allowing ourselves to find peace again.

We lost so much on September 11, 2001, but the thing that they can never take away is the kind of people that we are as a nation. Like a great, championship team, we look each other in the eyes as if to say, "We'll get it done together."

No matter what your political or religious beliefs may be, today and every day, let's focus on the things that bring us together and give a moment to those who we can no longer see, but will be with us forever.