Shadows of 9/11 still linger 10 years later

The effects of what happened on Sept. 11 are still with Americans who went through the tragedy. Judy Gluckstern was living in New York at the time of the terrorist attacks; she witnessed the events at the World Trade Center unfold from the rooftop of her apartment building on that fateful morning.

“We were about 11 blocks north of ground zero, in SoHo, at our apartment building when the events took place,” Judy recalled. “When the first plane hit we felt the building shake, but we didn’t think too much of it at the time.  We thought a big truck had just passed or something.”

She was heading upstairs when she ran into someone who had just gotten off the subway and he said there was an explosion in the north World Trade Center tower. “We thought maybe it was a fire or something,” Gluckstern said. “So I went up to the roof to take a look through my binoculars.”

Shortly after she arrived on the roof, Gluckstern remembers someone came up and said he had seen a plane fly low overhead and crash into the tower. “We thought it was an accident at that point, maybe a plane had gone off course, because there are three major airports nearby, so that seemed like a plausible explanation,” Gluckstern said. “Through my binoculars, I saw people waving things out of the window, and a plane suddenly appeared from the right hand side and it looked like it was headed towards the people for a second. Then I saw the plane turn into the second tower. That’s when we realized something was really wrong, because there was no way that could happen twice, and from the angle it took into the tower it appeared to be deliberate.”

“At that point everyone was trying to figure out what was going on. Someone had brought a radio up to the roof and we were listening to see if anyone knew what was happening when someone came up on the roof and said that the Pentagon had been hit” Gluckstern said. “Soon after that we saw the first tower fall; it was weird and horrifying to watch the tower fall because it was so big, and for it to just disappear, it was just a weird thing to see.”

After the attacks on Sept. 11 ended, the functional parts of Manhattan, like transportation, were back to normal within a week or two; however, that wasn’t the case for the people dealing with the trauma. Gluckstern said “Things went back to normal, and people carried on with their lives, for the most part, after a few weeks. People handle trauma differently and some people were more affected by it than others. It didn’t take me very long to move on.”

However, she says there are things that she’ll never be able to entirely forget. “Even today I still have this little gut reaction when I see planes flying low; it’s nothing significant, it just reminds me of that day a little,” Judy said. “It’s not just because of the images of the planes that hit the tower, but also because of the F-16 fighter planes that were flying low overhead for awhile after the attacks. There are little things like that, that will probably stay with me forever.”

New York wasn’t the only city directly affected by the attacks on 9/11, Washington D.C. was also a site of the disaster. Bonnie O’Connor lives in the D.C. area and she remembers what it was like after the attacks. “There was a real sense of sadness, everybody had their own stories about someone they knew who was somehow affected by the attacks.”

O’Connor says that overall everyone was sad for the loss of life, but there was also a sense of anger about what had happened. “I became angry that somebody would come in to our country and do something like that to so many innocent people. The attacks made people that much more determined; people banded together and wanted to help the people who were affected,” O’Connor said.

The effects of 9/11 are far reaching; they not only changed the lives of those in the cities that were attacked, but those of Americans living in other parts of the country. Southeastern Louisiana University student Jacob Currier is such an example. According to him the events of 9/11 had a big impact on his family even though none of them were directly involved. “My dad ran a travel agency before the terrorist attacks. We used to be able to take three to four flights a year, but after 9/11 that isn’t an option anymore.”

Currier says that the attacks didn’t just affect him economically; they also took away his peace of mind. “I had just gone on a cross-country flight the June before, I think. After the attacks I thought how that could have been me since those were the flights they were targeting,” Currier said.

Gluckstern acknowledges that the terrorist attacks have left a lasting impact on her mindset. She said, “The events of 9/11 made me realize how vulnerable we are to terrorist attacks. Now sometimes I’ll see a guy on the subway with a back pack and think how easy it would be for him to have a bomb in there. Getting on to the subway became sort of an act of defiance because you never know if something is going to happen, people just grit their teeth and get on with it.”

Bonnie also admits that the events of Sept. 11 changed her position towards things. “My attitude now is if something is going to happen to you it doesn’t matter where you are its going to happen to you, whether you’re at home or on a plane, you can’t live your life worrying about what could happen to you.”

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