A 9/11 perspective: The thing that makes America, well America

I was supposed to be on a plane to New Orleans on the day of 9/11/2001. It was a scheduled client visit and my flight was to leave at about 11 am from San Jose. My parents were home with us in the Bay area, since we were expecting my daughter (their first grand daughter) in a few weeks. I was woken up by dad at about 7 or 8 am and he asked me to see the news on TV.

Just a few minutes later, a second plane hit the WTC. It was surreal. I did not comprehend the events, neither did the words “terrorist strike” cross my mind. We switched between CNN, ABC and NBC to see if there’s something else they were missing about the story. Then in a few more minutes, we heard another plane crashed into the Pentagon. That’s when it really sunk in. The emotions were raw and went from disbelief, to shock, to intense sadness and finally anger. All flights were cancelled and I stayed at home, pretty much glued to the TV and trying to call folks I knew in NYC all day.

Two days later I flew on SouthWest airlines to Houston then New Orleans.Since this was our first child, my wife and I would religiously take walks in the evening so she could get her exercise. I was not at home, so my dad escorted her for her evening walk. Ours was a typically bedroom community in the Bay area, a school about 400 meters from home and a park about 300 meters from there.

They both started in earnest, walking around the neighborhood. My wife was wearing a typical Indian “Salwar Kameez” and dad was in a T-shirt and Jeans. Towards the end of our cul-de-sac at the intersection where it met a feeder into the Boulevard, they slowed down to cross the street. It was not a crowded street by any means, but it was rare to see cops in our neighborhood. After waiting patiently for a couple of minutes they ventured to the cross-walk and saw a policeman coming towards them in a motorbike. Having crossed over to the other side, they walked again towards the smaller road, when a few minutes later, the policeman came towards my dad and asked if things were ok. My dad pretty much said yes, there was’nt an issue. He then offered to escort them while they walked, if they felt they needed it.

My dad’s been to the US over 50 times in the last 30 years, so this was a new one for him. He asked the policeman if there was an issue, to which he got response “Well, she’s wearing a traditional outfit (of my wife) and I want to make sure people here dont bother you both”.

When my wife recounted that story to me later that week, it pretty much summed up America – Strong and protective.

Thoughts and prayers with all those who lost loved ones on 9/11.

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