On the morning of September 11th 2001, I was living my 4th year in Miami and I was on the phone with my travel agent, booking a last minute trip for the next day to Port-au-Prince on American Airlines. Once confirmed on the flight, I left my apartment & drove to my office with the top of my convertible down, enjoying a quiet and perfectly weathered morning.
I was listening to the Howard Stern Show on the car radio and it was abruptly interrupted by a news bulletin. I forget how the newscaster had formulated it but the news was grim and by the time I reached my office, I was scared, in tears and defeated.
My phone started ringing off the hook. Calls mostly from my mom & my brother in Canada who had retained as only information from the devastating news that it involved an American Airlines flight: the only airline I flew. After reassuring them, I went into a complete panic. Not only had New York always been a favourite destination but one of my best friends lived there. Two of my dearest & closest cousins live d there. And, the love of my life who was already not mine anymore in 2001, also lived there. With a land line phone in one hand and a heavy mobile phone in another, I dialed frantically to reach them. No luck. By that time, the second plane had hit the other tower and flights all over the country were grounded. It’s at that moment that I was sure I was going to move back to Canada. The United States had become a country under attack and I urgently needed to come back to socialized medicine and maple syrup.
Two months after September 11th, I left my life in finance under the sun and moved back home. I did so with a suitcase full of post 9-11 inspired lessons:
• The world is filled with nameless heroes. In NY, they were Samaritans who helped out strangers in distress;
• Tomorrow is not yours;
• Make amends if it’s worth it. If it isn’t, move on.
• Being afraid doesn’t excuse phobias. Islam is not the enemy & it never was.
• If North American schools taught its children more about the world outside its borders, we’d all be better off. Hey Middle East: same goes for you.
But today, I have special thoughts for those who lost loved ones nine years ago. It was unfair & it had nothing to do with you. I’m sorry this year you cannot celebrate this remembrance in peace. I’m sorry the media is giving more attention to a crazy self-proclaimed pastor than it is paying homage to the ones you lost. For that & for many other reasons, you are nameless heroes. I salute you.