Six years have passed since the 9/11 attacks and my memories don’t seem to fade. I didn’t know any of the victims personally. I have never been to New York or Washington. I can only empathize and sympathize from afar with the survivors and victims’ family members. So I’m quite amazed at the pain I still feel, when remembering the events. True, genuine, personal pain.
I was in college back then, studying to be a journalist. I had a report to do about TV media coverage on different events,throughout the week, so I had been watching news reports continuously, from the moment I woke up until I went to bed. That day, when I woke up, the first thing I did was to turn on the TV. The first image I saw was the the second plane hitting the towers. There was no comment, no reporter speaking, just that one image. For a moment I almost dismissed it as a commercial for a new movie. I didn’t want to believe that it could be anything but that. And for about two seconds I manage to stay in that mental comfort zone. Then tears started to roll down my cheeks.
I always kept myself emotionally distant from the news reports I watched on TV, no matter how gruesome and horrifying they were. After all, I was studying them. That day, however, I couldn’t stay dettached. If there is one place I think of as the capital of the world, it’s New York City. For me, it has always been the crossroads of the world, transcending its own nationality, welcoming every single nationality, race or creed. It can’t be a coincidence that it houses the UN headquarters. The WTC towers were a part of that image, the place where everybody from everywhere came to do business with everybody from everywhere. So, to me, it wouldn’t have hurt deeper, if the attacks had defaced my hometown.
In the days immediately after, new dimensions of pain were etched in my heart, as the total number of victims was beggining to come to light. Not only that, but also the number of different nationalities touched by the tragedy. That one single event put the entire world in mourning. East and West, North and South, christians, jews, muslims, hindus, buddhists, agnotiscs, atheists and everyone else in between, no one was left unscathed. Globalization had a new meaning that day.
Then, inspiration ensued. The stories of courage and sacrifice of people turned into heroes as they helped others, with total disregard for their own lives, were the first to touch us all. Then, the story of Flight 93 was the most inspiring tale of colective sacrifice for the good of others.
September 11 is the one day in the whole year when I don’t feel a Lisboner, Portuguese, European, or anything else but a citizen of the world, a member of the immense colective miracle we call Humankind, and of life itself. It took an immense tragedy to make me truly understand what that feeling is and how no matter where we are, where we come from or what we believe, we are all brothers and sisters. Nothing else could make me feel so deeply about another human being, that I don’t know and is an ocean away. Nothing else can explain that I’m so touched by this.
To all survivors and victims family members, to all new-yorkers, know that my heart weeps with yours. I want to say thank you to all of you. Thank you for the inspiration, thank you for the unity and the feelings of global brotherhood that six years later still overwhelm me on this day.