A New Yorker’s take on 9/11

By Bryan Levine
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Why did my teacher answer her cell phone in class and then leave the room? Why did she come back inside crying? Why was student after student being called for early release? Maybe most importantly, how did I get so lucky that Hebrew school was cancelled for the evening?

All of these questions had one simple, yet devastating answer. Terrorist attacks.

I can vividly remember riding my bike down the street, looking up and seeing fighter jets circle overhead to make sure we didn’t get attacked again. I remember seeing my dad cry for the first time, that night while watching the news. I’ll never forget what my best friend’s family went through knowing that their cousin was one of the first responders to enter the south tower, and wasn’t returning.

The one thing that will last with me forever is the way the community came together. New Yorkers are notorious for being rude to each other, but everyone came together as one. It felt almost like the holiday season, where everyone is actually nice, even to the guy standing in line behind you at 711.

I think September of 2001 was the first time in my life that I knew what it meant to be an American. The resilience of New Yorkers in the following weeks was unbelievable to me. You had people everywhere having garage sales and donating the money, you had people going as far as going down to ground zero help clean up all of the debris. Not to mention the other countless acts of heroism all while grieving the friends and family they just lost.

Ten years later, as we remember the thousands who were lost on 9/11, I would like to end with this.

No matter how terrible something is, you have to come out stronger on the other end.

“You can bend us, but you can’t break us.”

That was the slogan everyone lived by in New York in 2001.