When you ask someone who was in New York City that day, many of the stories seem to start the same way.
“It was a beautiful day.”
“The sky was blue, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.”
“A perfect September morning.”
If you were of a certain age on September 11th—old enough to have a memory of that day, that is—chances are your stories begin with something as mundane as the weather. Talking about the weather is the go-to topic of conversation for small talk, and it always served as a way of easing into the discussions surrounding that day. By starting with something nice, we hope to make the terrible memories that follow a little more palatable. Of course, they won’t be, but that doesn’t stop us from trying.
Today, I am in a coffee shop just a few blocks from where the Towers once stood, and it is an eerily similar day. A perfect blue sky, no clouds, and you couldn’t ask for better temperatures. I walked past the 9/11 Memorial, and it was filled with people enjoying the day, paying their respects, taking photos, etc.
People like to say that “you can always tell the difference between people who are from New York City and those who are not. If you’re from here, you rarely look up.” We’ve become used to the skyscrapers looming over us as we move throughout the city, casting their shadows on the people below and echoing the noise of the streets. However, those who aren’t from here cannot help but look up and admire the massive buildings and how impressive they are.
Whenever I am at the Memorial, I find myself joining the tourists. I look up at One World Trade Center as it towers over the reflecting pools and the 9/11 Museum. Gazing at the engineering marvel that building is, it also serves as a sign that New York City could rebuild and return stronger than ever.