It’s been eleven years since those planes crashed into the towers and changed our world. More than the landscape changed that day. We as a people changed as well.
I remember seeing the images of the planes hitting the towers. I didn’t see them in the morning like most everyone else though, as I was on a plane myself flying home from London at the time. A trip that should have seen me arrive home at 5:30 ended up taking more than another eight hours, getting me there at nearly 2:00 in the morning. I was lucky to get there at all. Others were stranded at destination or some point in between for days.
The first indication anything was wrong was when the pilot came on the intercom to tell us we were starting our descent, into Mirabel. We were supposed to land in Toronto. All he said was that we were not permitted to carry on to Toronto as airspace was closed due to an attack in the United States. Everyone on the plane let out a united, and confused, “What?”
Arriving in Montreal, and the subsequent journey on to Toronto, was the most surreal experience. After sitting on the tarmac for over an hour, we were ushered into the airport terminal and on to baggage claim. The entire airport was closed and dark, save the hallway to the baggage carousels and the baggage area itself. There were heavily armed guards at every corner, every doorway. Less than an hour after getting off the plane we were all seated on a bus on route to Toronto. Driving down the highway I saw hundreds of flags at half mast. It was eery. I was scared.
I saw the first glimpse in the next days paper on the cab ride home from the airport. I was still not able to comprehend the seriousness of what had happened, the impact it would have on the world. The impact it would have on me. I was completely knackered by the time I finally arrived home, but the first thing I had to do when I got there was turn on CNN to see what the hell was going on.
Initially many things changed in bad ways. As a whole, we became suspicious of anyone who was different. We were all about finding the person responsible and making them pay. We were more trepidatious about flying, and given the multitude of security rules and safeguards that were put in place, it often didn’t seem worth the ordeal. Invading our privacy, going through our things. We began being treating like we were the criminals.
Things also changed in good ways though. We started helping our neighbors without expecting something in return, just because they needed it. We took time to stop and smell the flowers. We started spending more time with our families. That sense of family, community and togetherness returned to our lives.
The most important thing that changed in my life was that I started telling my loved ones that I loved them. Even when I am mad at them I still tell them I love them. I never want someone to not know what they mean to me. I never want to be sorry I didn’t say it, or sorry I said something else that was not so nice. I never want someone to wonder what they mean to me, especially when I love them.