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Seven years after: what’s changed?

Today is the seventh anniversary of the historic 9/11 tragedy. Let’s pause for few moments and offer our solemn prayer for our innocent brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, children, friends and acquaintances, and workers, businessmen/women, professionals and leaders, veteran firefighters and police officers, and service members who died unexpectedly on Sept. 11, 2001. May they rest in peace. Amen.

May the families of those departed have found comfort and peace in their hearts knowing that their beloved ones are now in good hands with our Almighty God.

I still remember so vividly that tragic event, the 9/11 terorrist attack, that shocked the world, and transformed many people’s lives in various ways. How could anyone ever forget that “tragedy of all tragedies” that happened on our shores? It was such was a barbaric act of terrorism that’s unthinkable, unbelievable! It is already a part of our modern American, and world, history. And, whether we like it or not, that’s unforgettable, even for years and years to come!

If you were to ask me, now, what has changed for me since Sept. 11, 2001? I would say “I don’t know” or “Nothing,” except that I’m more confused than enlightened about life, I think. Confused, because I don’t know who or what to believe in. Confused, because our questions that have lingered on for years haven’t been answered up to now: Where is Osama bin Laden? Is he dead or still alive? Are we winning the war on terrorism, or is terrorism winning war over us? Are we safer now than before 9/11? What do you think?

Sept. 11, 2001, an ordinary Tuesday, or so we thought, turned out to be the saddest, and most memorable day in our modern history for all Americans. Almost everyone remembers what they were doing that day — here are my reflections.

It happened while I was in the staff lounge at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth’s Radiology Department. I was working on our staff training records with one of our computers, entering data and other pertinent information. My back was facing the TV that was on in the corner of the room.

Suddenly, from the only door in the staff lounge, appeared Mr. Thomas (or Mr. T. to most of us) who broke the news to me as he hurriedly switched the TV channel to one of the local TV stations in Hampton Roads. And, there it was — the World Trade Center in New York, under attack by a reported hijacked plane, not once but twice! It was so unreal, like watching a movie scene shot on location, a movie being filmed right there at the heart of the world’s financial capital, the city of New York! Matt Lauer and former NBC’s Today Show co-host Katie Couric were alternately reporting live about the unexpected tragedy that had caused thousands of lives to be lost.

From that moment, personnel started showing up one by one. The news spread so quickly that eventually the lounge was full to its capacity. All I could hear was “Oh my God! No!” As the two NBC Today Show hosts kept on reporting what they were witnessing live, another plane hit the Twin Towers! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! I was praying silently. Yes, silence dominated the room. We were all so quiet, as our eyes were glued to the TV set. The only sound we heard was the TV broadcast. Someone in the room switched the channel to CNN presumably to get another perspective of the breaking news. All of us in the room remained calm, in total shock and numb-founded.

Eventually, in twos or threes, our staff walked out quietly, distraught and unfocused. I noticed some of them shaking their heads, biting their lips, and others covering their mouths, teary-eyed. I lost my concentration of what I was doing that time because my mind was too preoccupied already with that unfortunate, tragic event.

That was such a moving experience, a reflective moment, I believe, about our life and our world. It was so unthinkable, unbelievable. How could this barbaric thing have happened? The enormity and magnanimity of the attack was beyond my comprehension. Who would ever thought or suspect that catastrophe would happen to the World Trade Center? And it was not only the Twin Towers that were attacked, but we learned later that other hijacked plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and still another plane crashed on a rural field in Pennsylvania! Why did it happen? Why?