September 11th will be an impossible date to eradicate from the memories of millions across the world. Over 17 years have elapsed since 9 11 and still, the aftermath of its terror is felt to this day.

Retracing back to the Tuesday morning before the 9 11 attacks had transpired, New York City expected a routine day. With bustling streets and vibrant, eager energy, there was no foretelling of the tragedy that was to come. Yet, the day had taken a turn for the worst. A date that once held no true significance, became known for one of the most heinous crimes in American History.

United Airlines Flight 93 would be the first hijacked plane to crash into the World Trade Center’s North Tower at 8:46 AM. Less than 20 minutes later, a second hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the South Tower. Nearly 3,000 people died, while over 6,000 people sustained injuries.

Ken Lucianin was one of the many individuals inside the twin towers on 9 11. Just as Flight 11 hit, Ken found himself on the 62nd floor. In many of the memories that he recalls so vividly, he describes himself climbing down the stairs and tapping the helmet of a firefighter to warn him of the people trapped on the 68th floor of the tower. The heavy smoke that began to fill the air made it increasingly difficult to breathe. By this point, seconds began to feel like hours.

The world around was at a standstill, anticipating the next events to come in complete panic and agony. There were heavy feelings of deep helplessness. So many wanted to help, but so many couldn’t due to the dangerous circumstances. To witness a city that stood so tall, fall to the very streets that supported its growth, is an unfathomable sight.

However, the 9/11 attacks did not end in New York City. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, hit the Pentagon just outside Washington D.C., while a fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. After the towers collapsed and the plane hits began to spread across the East Coast, the United States of America looked to President George W Bush for hope in a very desolate time.

In days to follow, the area that surrounded the twin towers could have easily been mistaken for a war zone. Armed National Guards were perched at every corner. Streets once full of taxis, commuters, and tourists were now full of ashes and debris. Food, water, phones, and medication became a scarcity. The towers, still burning of fire, produced a toxic smog that made it impossible to breathe.

So many lives were lost and so many families were torn apart. There was no resuming life as anyone once did before. That morning of September 2011 was a morning that stole not only the trust of New York City but the trust of so many around the world. Moving on from the great losses felt like a long road ahead for countless Americans.

In the months after the attacks, doubt became a common theme. Every person in New York City was suspicious of those around them. Every bag and an unattended piece of luggage at an airport became a potential danger in the eyes of the American people. Planes that were just another part of the blue sky above became a reason for New York Citizens to scour for safety. Nothing was the same.

Eventually, the high tension began to settle. In honor of the tragedy and lives lost, thousands of people around the world ventured to see New York City in its darkest moments. So many sent their love and prayers for healing; so many still do to this day. You can now visit the Reflecting Pools, 9/11 Memorial Museum and the Freedom Tower/One World Trade Center in New York City. Memorial ceremonies are orchestrated each year to remember the victims of this unprecedented tragedy.

As an old saying once went, so it goes:  “It is always darkest before dawn”.

This year, in her hometown of Passaic, Chiane Anderson, born on September 11, 2001, sang “God Bless America” to remember the loss of so many innocent lives. Chiane successfully brought light to a day so many perceive as a great misfortune. Although she cannot recall 9 11, she still understands the magnitude of the event and the importance of family.

The ones who survived as Ken Lucianin did now have an immeasurable sense of gratitude and appreciation for life. “Don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry,” explained Ken “And don’t be afraid to tell someone you love them”.

When tragedy strikes, hope swoops in. New York, although once in great sorrow, never divided. Lower Manhattan, most affected by the attacks, evolved tremendously over the years. It’s impossible to imagine New York then and Lower Manhattan as we know it today.

Since September, 17 years ago, the number of New York citizens has grown, as well as the number of residential housing units. The health care and social services sector has tripled with the number of jobs and the number of tourists has risen. To date, The One World Trade Center Observatory had attracted 2.3 million visitors in its first year of operation.

Lower Manhattan has become a home to many different companies and industries. Many well-known names include Spotify, MediaMath, HarperCollins and Condé Nast. This area is especially appealing to a younger workforce due to improved transportation over the years. It is now easy to access both Brooklyn and New Jersey.

Since then, many new schools, both private and public, have opened in the area, becoming a lure for many families. Although NYC’s great symbol of world trade and peace was destroyed in a vicious attack, the city of New York bounced back graciously as ever.

Osama Bin Laden, born in Saudi Arabia, was known to the prime suspect in the attacks on The World Trade Center Towers. Although Osama, along with his accomplices, had attempted to destroy a city, they never could fully destroy our nation’s spirit and devotion for peace.

Together, as one, we are stronger than we ever have been before. New York City is a beacon of freedom and equal opportunities for everyone. America’s commitment to those ideals can only continue to be strengthened. This past 9/11 – New York, Los Angeles, Virginia, and Malibu were many areas of the U.S. that honored the memory of those lost with sentimental memorials.

Despite much adversity, New York has never surrendered its unwavering faith. The ones who remain and survived 9/11 continue to be the voices of freedom and diversity for America. Ken Lucianin is proud to be an advocate for equality and peace.

Today, tomorrow and always – we will never forget.

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