Terrorists struck a staggering blow at the heart of America when they attacked New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. In a moment the whole world changed.
On 9/11, terrorism became a global threat against all humanity. Terrorism transformed itself from an insidious disease affecting a single country or region, into a life-threatening cancer that would quickly metastasize across all borders to other countries in the form of "sleeper cells."
America did not see it coming. New York City had never seen an attack of this scale. Suddenly this horrifying act shook and stunned the city, the nation and the world. It was the worst of times that brought out the best in people. New York City firemen and policemen flew into the face of danger and uncertainty to help innocent victims from all walks of life. In the end 3,000 people perished as a result of the attacks and the subsequent collapse of the Twin Towers.
There is now a construction site where the Twin Towers once stood. It is still a nasty scar near the center of the financial district. Thousands of tourists walk by every day to match the present site with indelible images of the burning buildings locked in their memories.
People who worked and lived in the area then will carry the emotions of that day forever. Tens of thousands still have trouble sleeping. They are haunted by the sounds of bodies crashing to the ground; victims who chose to jump rather than burn to death. Or the unimaginable sounds of the towers collapsing to the ground. Thousands of "heroes" suffer from lung diseases and other life shortening illnesses. The human toll is staggering.
As a result of these attacks, security at airports and other transportation hubs throughout the world has been greatly heightened. Homeland security is now an important concern for every nation and a major global industry. Suspicions have been elevated as most everyone casts a wary eye on those around them. Uncertainty and fear have heightened divisions and mistrust among religions and peoples. The extreme voices are wreaking havoc on sanity and stability.
The terrorist attacks led to costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians have died in these conflicts. The wars are draining America and are being used to fuel hatred among Muslims against the US and its allies. Never mind that terrorists have killed perhaps millions more innocent Muslims in the name of Allah than anyone else. Meanwhile, the terrorists have been wounded but they have not been stopped.
For decades the Twin Towers dominated the Manhattan's skyline like two centurions guarding over the city's financial district. These towers symbolized the power of America's free-market system and the strength of its Democracy. They reflected the energy, optimism and ambition of New York City and its diverse people. New Yorkers are resilient. But they will never forget.
Follow Joe Peyronnin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joepeyronnin