By Amber Qalagari Special to the Chronicle
Never Forget. These words are the mantra of those whose lives were affected by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. It’s been 11 years to the date and still the memories and effect of that gruesome day are ever present in the minds and hearts of Americans. In a world where people die every day, what made that one day a day to never forget? I went to the 9/11 memorial to find out from everyday citizens.
Paul Legname and Rebecca Lingenfelter, United Airlines employees, will never forget the day they lost a fellow worker and friend, Sandra Bradshaw. Having just gotten back from maternity leave, Sandra Bradshaw was a flight attendant on Flight 93, the terrorist plane that landed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. “Eleven years later and I break down like it was yesterday,” Legname said as we stood in the middle of the memorial. Seeing his pain while trying to suppress her own, Ligenfelter said, “Airlines are one big family. Lose a member is like losing your family.”
Eighteen-year-old Emily Davidson might not have lost anyone the day the towers crumbled, but to her it was equally as traumatic. “When I got home from school and saw it in the news I started bawling. New York City was my second home.” Emily was born with a rare brain cancer that gave her a life expectancy of two years and left most doctors clueless and unwilling to operate on someone of her condition. Her family found a doctor in New York City who agreed to provide the numerous surgeries this disease required. As a result, a vast majority of her childhood memories are from the times spent in the city for her numerous doctor visits.
To someone who had survived death, the terrorist attacks were powerful enough to leave her more worried in her safety then in her pre-existing health conditions. “[The attacks] made me wary about everything. Flights even make me nervous. Imprinted into my memory is that planes crash into buildings. We aren’t in a safe bubble like we are meant to believe.” Emily will never forget the day she lost her security in America.
“First time I’ve ever seen my dad cry,” revealed Hofstra freshman and New York native Nicholas Hintz. A year before the attacks, his father had taken him to the top of the building and showed him where he had proposed to his mother many years before. “As a second grader it didn’t mean much to me, but looking back I see it meant a lot. This place meant a lot to him. I have the worst memory but this is still engraved in my mind.” Hintz shared the pain of many other New Yorkers who would never forget that identifying landmark.
The twin towers were not just an addition to the New York City skyline; it was a second home for over 10,000 employees. It was not just a list of 2,983 causalities; it was the lives of relatives, neighbors, and fellow citizens. “Never Forget” is not just an empty nationalistic phrase; it has a special meaning in each heart. From the airline attendants who lost their friend to the child who grew up cynical of every foreigner, to the guy who lost a piece of his hometown, everyone lost a part of themselves that sunny September day. Eleven years may have passed, and a million more may follow; the truth remains that we will always remember because we can never forget.