Would-be Tragedy Inspires Reflection

On Thursday, a feeling of relief overtook anxious New Yorkers when news reports explained that a flock of geese most likely caused the emergency crash-landing of U.S. Airways flight 1549.  This news, accompanying images of the safe exit of all 155 passengers, eased the tensions of a great many people who feared that the crash was a replica of the events that occurred on September 11, 2001.  Thankfully, there was no terroristic catalyst involved.

I often find myself unaware or overlooking the fact that I live and work in a city that has remained a major target of potential terrorist attacks.  While it would be foolish to continuously focus on this undeniable fact, it is important to maintain a healthy level of personal awareness and to make occasional consideration of the events and ramifications of the attack that occurred more than seven years ago.  During and in the aftermath of last week's would-be tragedy, it was impossible to avoid this awareness.

At the same time that flight 1549 splashed into the middle of the Hudson River, I was fast at work at my office in Queens.  Upon receiving a text message from my father that read: "There is a plane in the Hudson."  I notified other staff members and went directly to the television, where most of the staff had come to see what was going on.  And what a relief it was to see the end result - every man and woman exiting the plane without a single casualty.

Living in the post 9-11 world and sitting in an office with windows that show the Manhattan skyline devoid of the Twin Towers, my first thought prior to turning on the television was "Oh no!  Not again."  Luckily, my first reaction was anything but valid.  We were truly lucky - as were the inhabitants of flight 1549.

The relief I felt when I saw these men and women being brought to safety was immense.  And while I ventured back to my desk, I couldn't help but think about the horror our nation has gone through this past decade.  Had this crash-landing occurred in 2000, the words "act of terrorism" wouldn't have so readily materialized in my mind.  The world has truly changed.

With a new administration coming in, America cannot afford to cut loose when it comes to protecting the homeland.  It is these thoughts that have been going through my mind since Thursday afternoon. 

Ironically, this morning, I read a short post on The New York Times' City Room blog entitled, "Sept. 11 Death Toll Rises by One, to 2,752."  The piece read:

Leon Bernard Heyward did not die until last October, at the age of 45. But his name was added Friday to the official list of people who died as a result of the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

 

Heyward was exposed to dust while working at Ground Zero.  Although his death comes years after the event that has forever changed America, he is yet another hero who is being counted among those murdered by radical Islamic fascists on U.S. soil.  His name is not being invoked in this case to create anger in readers; rather, it is being presented to serve as a reminder of the sacrifices our nation was forced to make - sacrifices that continue to plague many of the men and women who volunteered during the aftermath of the attacks.

Thankfully, flight 1549 landed safely and has been slated an accident.  Luckily, we have not had to endure another 9-11 and I pray that we will never have to again.  The new administration - and most importantly Americans - mustn't forget what happened in 2001.  While it often seems embedded in the past, families, individuals and policy-makers need to remember all that was lost so that our nation does not become complacent again.