Today: Jun 25, 2024

A New Yorker’s take on 9/11

Malcolm Smiley – Photo Editor


Wednesday, Sept. 11 marks the 12th anniversary of the attack on the United States of America.  A day that will forever be stored in our country’s history and our memories.  Never have we seen an attack on the U.S. soil that changed our way of living.  Before 9/11, we would have never ask the question, “Why is this plane flying so low?”  As a native New Yorker this crosses my mind time to time.  When I take the number two train from uptown to 34th street I am greeted with bomb sniffing dogs and armed guards. Born and raised in the Bronx, N.Y., I was always connected to the New York City skyline. The most iconic building to me was the World Trade Center.


In 2000, I got the honor and privilege to take a field trip to go inside the Twin Towers.  The structures seem indestructible with its squared base and architecture.  As a fourth grade student I was very overwhelmed by its size, and the fact that there was not one tall building but an identical one just sitting right next to it.  After that day I became obsessed with the World Trade Center.


On Sept. 11, 2001, I was in my fifth grade class. I began to notice that my classmates were going home one by one and it was not even lunchtime yet. It seem pretty odd and out of the ordinary that 75% of the school was empty by 12 p.m. Soon the school officially canceled the remainder of the day and I was sent home.  When school let out I returned home finding my mother sitting in front of the television, this to was odd.  My mother Nancy Woolard Smiley, a social worker employee for New York City was instructed home and not to return till further notice.  As I peek around my mother to look at the television, there I saw my first view of Manhattan. The lower part of the island was consumed with gray clouds. Then I read the NBC news caption “World Trade Center Collapses.”  I was highly confused, turned to my mother and ask, “How is that even possible?” This was the first time “terrorism” was introduced to my vocabulary.

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I sat and watched the attacks repeatedly on New York City and D.C.  I still couldn’t understand the fact that why would somebody hurt innocent people and destroy such beautiful buildings. Confused, emotional and upset, there was no stopping me to gain more knowledge of this “terrorism.”  I was one of the few students that went back to school right after the attacks. Many parents chose to keep their children home. Some schools did not even give parents the option as schools chose to shut down.  For months clean up of lower Manhattan when on.  The sound of the individual firefighter distress call was stuck in my head. Every time you will see the live footage on television you would hear that sound. My city was in pain, my country was in pain, and I was in pain.


12 years later a new tower stands, One World Trade Center also know as The Freedom Tower.  A masterpiece, standing at 1,776 feet, this building is the tallest in the United States.  One World Trade has become a beacon of hope, strength, and resiliency.  Once a year I will make a trip to the 9/11 memorial site.  The site has become probably the most peaceful place in lower Manhattan. Two man-made waterfalls have replaced the footprints of the original towers.  The running water drowns out any surround street noise.  I photograph the whole complex to remind others and myself the events that took place on that day.  Also to pay tribute to all who lost and gave their lives to help people to safety.  On that day it made me appreciate my freedom, my way of living, country, and my CITY.

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