WHY I WILL NOT WORK OR OPERATE BUSINESS ON SEPTEMBER 11TH
DIASCLAIMER: Do not misquote, take portions of my statement, share the information for purposes not intended without full use of this statement, without explicit formal written and/or verbal consent by the writer. However, feel free to share my statement in its entirety. If any of the above is violated- especially to the detriment personally or professionally, the writer will pursue legal action to the fullest extent of the law.
* Since many have asked over the years, and especially after my post yesterday stating I will not have myself, my company, or allow anyone who works for me to work on September 11th, I will fully explain why right here because I remember every detail of that day as if it was yesterday. *
I was born in Manhattan, but raised in Long Island. On September 11th, 2001, our country- not just New York- was hit by what people commonly and pretty much accurately describe as “Extremists”; killing thousands of civilians, public servants (Police officers, First Responders, Firemen/Women).
The severity of the damage caused that day is understandably lost on those who didn’t live in or around the areas hit, but it affected all of us Americans in one form or another. I do not discount any American’s feelings and sentiments regarding what happened, because they all felt it too and were dragged into this horrific situation even following that day through many different ways.
I was just 17 years old at the time, a Senior in High School, and had a scheduled practice Volleyball match later that day. Three friends of mine, two on the team and one who played another sport, all piled into the minivan I drove during our second period, which we all had off, to go to our favorite deli (Figarelly’s) to stock up on some much needed food so we could play to the best of our abilities later that day. This was at just about 8 A.M.
Over the radio, which we always had blasting and the car filled as it usually was with laughter, joking, and just general happiness, we heard a DJ say, “It seems as if the World Trade Centers have had a backfire in the building, and we will keep you up to date as soon as more information comes in”.
An eerie and unusual silence came over the car, as we all somehow knew that wasn’t the full story of what was happening. We recognized it even then.
However, we went on to Figarelly’s to get our food and while we were there, another announcement had come over the radio which we did not hear ourselves, but “Fig” did and he, like the great man that he has always been to the people (especially us young ones) of the community, did as best he can to gently distract us out of pure care for us by engaging in conversation about the match he knew we had and did well beyond his part to keep us calm as he knew what was said over the radio which was, “One of the Towers seems to have been hit by a plane”. He knew many of us had family or our Parents working in the city or at the World Trade Centers and he stepped up in his usual form to be a type of family member himself because he truly cared so much for us all.
We didn’t pay a cent for our food that day. He did so under the guise of “You need to fuel yourself for your match!”. But in hindsight, he did what he could do to keep us calm and did what he could to remind us that our community supports, cares and does their best to protect one another.
We all then piled back into the car, putting on the radio again as we always did, but this time we heard clearly over the radio “Two planes have hit the World Trade Center Towers”. Real silence fell over the car as we all rushed back to school for guidance and to see what was truly going on.
As the four of us walked through the hallways to our next class which was on the other side of the school, and the halls were entirely empty with nothing but silence as each of the classroom televisions were on showing and reporting in real time what was going on. The images of the two towers burning as we passed each room and the silence as everyone watched is something I will never forget. That was the first and only time the school and teachers had ever done so and every door was wide open. Looking from left to right, it was everywhere- on every screen in every classroom. The four of us started holding each other’s hands as we walked to our destination to comfort each other as the fear within us was understandably growing because of what was occurring.
As we departed and went to our next class, my normally outspoken and intolerable of any shenanigans Spanish teacher, had the television on and she herself had a complete change in attitude towards us- showing complete compassion, attempted to also keep us calm by doing so herself, and encouraging us to pay attention because again, many of my peers had family working at the World Trade Centers and/or around it. I will never forget one of my classmates putting her head down, wrapping her head in her arms, only to find out shortly later, after being quietly pulled out of class, that her Father worked in one of the Towers. He died that day.
After that class ended, I thought of my own family. Three of which were in Manhattan at that time, only my younger sibling who was in middle school and myself in High School were at our respective schools in Long Island. The fear for their safety grew immensely personally, because my older sibling was at college near the area hit and saw what was happening live from her University’s campus and both of my Parents were Uptown at work.
Being almost an adult at that age, my first thought and priority was the safety of my own family. What went through my head was, “Ok, let me go home and see if they all have returned and if not, I am grabbing my sibling out of school and taking him home with me.”
As I went to leave school, because at that point nothing else even remotely mattered, the new school Principal shouted at me “ YOU ARE A CLASS OFFICER! YOU NEED TO STAY HERE AND HELP KEEP EVERYONE ON SCHOOL GROUNDS!”.
No Sir, I do not. That is your JOB, not the job of a student. So, I defied him without fear as I walked out the door saying, “No, that is your responsibility. If you want to write me up for detention or punish me for leaving, you can give it to me tomorrow.” I promptly walked out (actually ending up running to my car to get home as soon as possible) and needless to say, no punishment or detention was ever given.
On the way home, I made a decision to wait one hour to see if any member of my family returned home, otherwise I would do as I previously thought and sign my younger sibling out of school and bring him home. I clocked it. None of the phones were working, as the cell phone lines were all jammed due to everyone calling to check on their friends, family and loved ones, in addition to the fact that everyone in Manhattan was calling out for help and guidance to get out of the city as soon and as quickly as possible.
Forty seven minutes after I arrived home, in walks my Mother, calm as she always is under all extreme circumstances, carrying a box of water and keeping the coolest of heads and an unbreakable “Poker Face” so as to not worry me further and just like “Fig”, did her absolute best to distract me as the fear of knowing my older sibling and my Father were still in Manhattan.
My Father spent six hours driving from Uptown to go and pick up my older sibling who was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge because that was the only way out for her and it was what was suggested. My Father went that direction after they managed to briefly contact each other by cell somehow, and spent further time finding her in a sea of people leaving in haste, and then it took another four hours for them to get home.
Relief at seeing them all home and safe doesn’t even cover how I felt. I was utterly grateful that they were all home, safe, and we were all together.
Because of what happened that day, the school district made attendance not mandatory and all activities were cancelled for the next few days. They did right by the community in that respect.
I, however, went back the following day at the insistence of my Mother who said I can always leave if I feel like it or it is necessary for whatever reason, and the school would have to answer to my Parents if I was punished for leaving the day before or even if I left any of the following days.
I stayed because the teachers who truly cared about us showed it. They were there as a comfort and a place to be for whatever reason we needed. I will never forget those Educators who did so. They went above and beyond what was expected of them considering they were affected as well in the same manner as us students, and not out of obligation, but that they truly cared. Not all of them did this, but the ones who did are what a community is all about.
The days and weeks following were chaotic to say the least. Government, civilians, and our community were all trying to figure out exactly what had happened, by who and why.
During that time, so many people of my community- both the adults and just slightly older peers- had volunteered to go down and help to try and find survivors, clean up the destruction created, aide in any way they possibly could.
That weekend, students, both still in our school and those who had just recently graduated, organized a peaceful rally in a parking lot which was on the main road which runs through our town. It was attended by more people than I could even count (it was that large), many not knowing each other that well if at all, holding signs with slogans such as, “Honk your horns for Peace”, and others of the like. I was there to witness and partake every aspect of that rally. Not a single Police Officer stopped this from happening, when believe me they normally would make the crowd disperse, but instead stood or parked in the parking lot watching over us for our safety; some even joining us to show their support of us and our townspeople.
Again, that is community. That is humanity at it’s finer moments. We were so very young, and even we already knew what humanity and community truly meant.
Because of September 11th, many of my peers who already had set plans to go to college had changed their minds and decided to withdraw, instead enlisting in the many branches of our armed forces. They did so not only serve and protect Americans, many of which they obviously don’t know but are risking their lives on our behalf of, yet still so many “Americans” spit on them- metaphorically and sometimes literally- when they are serving you and us all. That last action I mentioned I strongly believe is personally disgraceful and you are no better than the people who perpetuated the attack. You miss the point of their choice to electively serve on the behalf of all Americans. They didn’t and don’t have to do so, but chose to in order to protect your lives and the freedoms we do have here and the disrespect they received and continue to is only marginally different than the Vietnam War Veterans; and yes, I acknowledge and am aware of the imposed Draft for the Vietnam War, but my statement is still truthful and accurate. You should feel ashamed, and perhaps open your eyes to why these people, my peers and those older than us, did so and show them the respect they deserve.
I do not advocate for War by any means to be extremely clear. The above paragraph is meant for the Americans who so selfrighteously have disrespected our troops in the past and continue to, when they are serving our country so you can maintain the freedoms we are afforded by being American that you so callously take for granted. Respect for their choice and service is what I am asking and stating, because I don’t see those who disrespect the troops doing anything even remotely close to the same sacrifice those who enlisted and served have made. Yes, use your voice to state your grievances, however it is unnecessary and disrespectful in the most close minded way to blame the troops for their choice. They are doing you a favor you can never repay them for whether you choose to realize and acknowledge it or not. I implore you to look within to see if any of that statement rings true with you and is the root of your actions and statements. If so, you should reevaluate who you are truly angry with.
That being said, I want to also make very clear that the “Extremists” who helped perpetrate this crime are just that. Extremists. They are not representative of the Muslim community or religion as a whole, despite the propaganda we have been fed through skewed news outlets and even our own Government. This is why I never have and never will retain personal hate towards groups, religions or organization members as a whole just because of some bad apples that unfortunately reflect upon other members which in turn causes others to see the entire bunch spoiled. Think about it personally. Every single person is a part of something where there are those who are misguided in their beliefs and actions, and simply because you are a part of it as well, you are lumped in with the crazed where the actions of the crazed are not condoned by the group as a whole, however you pay the price by having that commonality. Remember this and take it logically. Perhaps you will see things differently in realizing you too could accidentally be put in a negative category when you do not condone or agree with the actions of certain individuals, yet they are stating they are acting on the behalf of the entire group. This last statement applies to many things well beyond what happened on September 11th, and what followed as well.
Statement of Date Recognition
Now, I will speak to my decision to not work on this date.
The factors I stated above are only a portion of my reasoning why I made the decision to not work on this date at 18 years old. As a brand owner, I have the power and ability to make this decision as I feel that true recognition of this day, the War that followed which was misguided on many levels- sacrificing more American lives not at all for the protection of our Nation, but for the monetary benefit that directly comes from War.
The minimalist actions in remembrance that have been done by our Government over the course of fourteen years since it’s occurrence, such as lighting up the Empire State Building in red, white and blue, the closing of the bridges at the times of each time we were hit nationally, plus many more examples, is simply not enough. It is an insult and injustice to the people who died that day, during the War, those affected still to this day (both domestically and internationally) simply by being a part of the same religion when they had no part is committing this crime is a failure of discernment of epic proportions, in addition to the American troops who were forced into a War under false pretenses, yet had to serve because of our unacceptable Military policies which do not fall in accordance with what being an “American” is.
Did I anger you Politicians?
You time and again seem to forget you serve the citizens, not the other way around. I hope this angered you enough to take action and put formal recognition of this date and honor everyone that I have spoke of throughout this statement who died or sacrificed in one way or another to serve a poorly executed, wrongfully based War to your benefit. The American Citizens are not as blind as you hope and think. As each year passes, our distrust in your leadership across party lines and Administrations grows stronger and more eyes have opened to this than you probably ever expected and clearly didn’t fear our collective will for unity and peace. You are too late.
By acknowledging this date, it does not send the message that has been drilled into our minds for 14 years- “The Extremists/Muslim religion has won!”. No. I am living proof of that untruth and lie told to us time and again.
What honoring this date appropriately does is honor everyone I have spoken about through this entire statement. Inaction on your part is equal to complacency, in hopes we will forget. You have the power to change this, so do it. How much longer do we have to wait for you to do so? We don’t. Again, you all are servants to the American people and this is what they were asking for and now we are demanding it. Get up and do something about it or get out of your position because you are not fit to represent Americans as a whole. Remember, you serve us. You job depends on this, so again, remember that.
As a tiny company owner myself, I act in accordance with respect of the people stated, and you do not. You have no excuses other than selfish, self-serving ones, which don’t hold water. Especially not after 14 years of waiting for true acknowledgment.
I make my products here in New York and even the materials are from the United States. I work in an industry where it is paramount that you are present and working during this week, and for some even on this day. You won’t disrupt the industry as we are and always have been malleable to accommodate common “Holidays”. If we can do it, so can you.
What we as Americans are asking for is not the creation of a “Holiday” in a way that gets transformed into days of parties rather than remembrance, respect, and learning from what had occurred to cause this day of observance. Just look at how Memorial Day and our recent Labor Day has forgotten it’s true meaning, but resulted in a time to part without giving the slightest thought as to why it is a “Holiday” to begin with.
You are our supposed leaders, correct? Then, lead. Create this change. You are supposed to be the brightest and smartest so that is the reason you are appointed to your position, yet you act nothing like it. Again, it has been long enough for you to do something about this and high time you act on the request from the citizens of whom you serve and collect your checks from.
Now, is there any Politician brave enough to defy the sheep mentality of any party and step out of the comfort you so enjoy in your position? The American people are waiting to hear your response and it should be made with everything I have stated in mind and also the wishes of millions of other Americans.
You want our respect? Here is your start. Do something and do it now. Otherwise, you are just as useless and a part of the larger problem as we all suspect.
As I stated above, and many times before, I will not work today and there are so many who have no relation to me, my company, or industry that are doing just the same, so you might as well act on behalf of the request that has now turned into a demand of the very people you serve or once again, it will be blindingly apparent where your loyalty lies and it is not with the American people. Otherwise you would act in accordance with the wishes of the citizens and not look to your party or your potential competition as a means of making a morally correct decision.
The ability and power lies in every single one of you Politicians to do what is being demanded.
I am an American first, and a New Yorker second.
“WE WILL NEVER FORGET” is the truth. You should not be forgetting either.
To end this, again, neither my company nor I will ever work on this date. So many other Americans are following suit, and I proudly salute those who do, and to the Politicians, you might as well acknowledge our wish and now demand. Once again, your job depends on it.
Thank you for reading to all who have.