NEW YORK CITY — It was one of those fall mornings that made all the aggravation that comes with living in New York City completely worth it. Even by the time I rolled out of bed, right around 9:00 AM, the sun was high in the cloudless sky, and a cool breeze promised to stick around through the evening. My girlfriend and I were making breakfast, and making plans for the days and weeks ahead, and then everything changed forever.
The day was September 11, 2001, and what happened that day was the single largest terrorist attack on American soil. I lived through it, and I still remember the raw emotions, the way people on the street looked at each other, the way a smell of burned wreckage lingered in the city for weeks after the attack.
The experience is something that affected all of us in different ways. For me, initially there was confusion — trying to get a grip on what was happening around us. Then there was fear — wondering if other parts of the city were safe. Then there was sadness — processing the massive loss of life. There was anger, and there was resilience, and… well, there were about a million other emotions, and they came and went without warning.
In the years that followed, Ground Zero became a place that visitors to New York felt compelled to go and see, both to pay their respects and, for younger people, to learn about what happened. A few hours ago, the players in town for tomorrow’s NBA Draft paid a visit to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The players were all children when the attacks occurred, and as far as I could gather, this was the first time they’d been able to visit Ground Zero.
NBA Cares set up today’s visit in conjunction with Tuesday’s Children, a non-profit organization that “has made a long-term commitment to meet the needs of every individual impacted by the events of September 11, 2001.”
The players wandered the memorial plaza in today’s blazing sun, walking around each of the memorial pools. It was mostly quiet, as people on site respectfully looked at the names of all the victims ringing the pools and reflected on all that the memorial represented. The visit was also educational, as the players weren’t old enough at the time of the attack to fully remember the experience of living through 9/11.
“I remember being right in front of the TV set,” said Kentucky C Nerlens Noel. “I forget what I was watching, but it just took over every channel. It was really an emotional time, and I was young and was not really sure what was going on. I’m grateful to be here. To see all the names here, it makes you cherish life, and be thankful and not take things for granted.” (more…)