20 years have passed since a devastating tragedy that changed the United States forever. Our Shark OFF family includes two different generations and two different experiences of that tragedy. Danielle Schueller, who writes many of our blogs, was a toddler during the event. She is now pursuing her Master's degree in New York.
As a new New York City resident, I had the great privilege of attending the ceremony at the 9/11 memorial at 8:46 am- the time that the first tower was struck. Three moments of silence were taken to honor the victims of the attack and the heroes who sacrificed their lives to save others. One for the first tower that was struck, one for the second, and one for when both towers fell. Standing on the outskirts of the crowd of hundreds, there was a palpable weight to the silence. As someone who neither remembers the day that this horrific attack occurred nor lived in NYC, to be surrounded by these New Yorkers was an intense experience.
Shark OFF’s own Shea Geist was a working adult on the day of the attack. Here are her thoughts on this anniversary.
After much introspection, I realize the most violent thing about 9/11 for many of us outside of New York was how our American privilege was ripped away from us. At the time it was unbelievable that anyone would dare attack America. It was unbelievable that we could be attacked, especially like that. I endlessly watched the planes crashing into the buildings and people desperately flinging themselves from the towers, waiting for the time I would not weep from my soul in response to those images. It took years for that to happen.
I mournfully contemplated whether we, as a nation, somehow deserved to have our privileged ripped away. And raged and wept for those who absolutely did NOT deserve to lose loved ones. That pain and grief was a universal and bonding experience for us as Americans. We stood together as never before in my lifetime. And to my surprise, the world stood and wept with us. I always wondered how our one abominable day overwhelmed the many, many abominable events that happen every day all over the world.
After years of processing and weeping and watching, that strangely personal pain has not changed, regardless of how my knowledge of America's role and responsibility in the world has grown.
In 2019 we had the privilege of being chosen to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in the Netherlands. We stayed in Scheveningen, a beautiful fishing village that has a heartrending sculpture of a weeping giant. That weeping giant represents the strangely personal pain of people all over the world at the events of 9/11. It seems that pain has not changed for the world either.