I know the images of the Twin Towers being struck, burning, and falling in New York on September 11th, 2001 will always be burned into my memory. I was, like most Americans, someone who did not personally know anyone who died in these terrorist attacks but who felt the blow nevertheless in my understanding that it was my values and lifestyle that were being attacked, too. Yet, specific people were also taken from us that day. Terrorists who wanted to send a large-scale message did so by taking individual innocent lives.
In the following days, I volunteered at a hotline my college set up to try to account for our alumni who lived in NYC and DC. I talked to families who were distraught, not having heard from their loved ones, and to alumni who feared the worst for their college friends. Alysia Basmajian was a recent graduate of my college whose life was lost in those attacks, and whose story, as it came out, captured my attention and pulled at my heart. I didn’t know Alysia, but I felt true sadness as I learned about this vibrant young woman lost to the world, to her new husband, and to her baby daughter. In the years that have passed, even though I never knew her, I have never forgotten her. Today this post is offered in remembrance of Alysia, all the other individuals who lost their lives to terrorism on that date, all whose lives were forever changed by those losses, and all the heroic rescue workers who were helping at Ground Zero. What was meant to terrorize Americans took a great deal from us, but also made our patriotism burn in our hearts.