It started as a regular September morning in Santo Domingo as I was driving to El Caribe newspaper. As a sports reporter, my usual day started in the afternoon. However, for some reason I can’t remember, I arrived at the paper at 8:15 a.m. I was like a fish out of water, hanging with the morning crew, but still I managed to get coffee and was having a conversation with a fellow reporter. What happened next, I will never forget.
The newsroom was an open space with 50+ desks and a TV for each section of the paper. On a regular afternoon, each department would have their TV on with some relevant show: entertainment, culture, sports, etc. Each team then discussed the happenings within their field, some with civil yet passionate interactions. I was a sports reporter at the time, and for us in sports, most of the time, passion easily turns into loud arguments about baseball players.
On this Tuesday though, things were starting slowly. Not a single TV was on when I arrived, and there was not much to be discussed at that point. We had an international newsroom — some reporters were from Spain, Argentina, and Peru, our photo editor was from Chile, and the new intern was from Uruguay. At this time, still not many foreigners lived in Santo Domingo, so this was especially diverse at the newspaper.
At 8:30, Mabel, the editor from the culture section, turned on the TV. She was watching entertainment-related news, and no one was really paying attention to her or to what she was watching. A few minutes later, she said something really loud; I can’t remember her words exactly. What I can vividly replay in my head is how everyone that was there — about 20 of us — just stood there in front of the TV.
Each one of us had someone in mind; at that point this was happening to all of us. It didn’t matter where we were born — none of us were Americans, and yet each person felt the fear and powerlessness that something terrible was probably happening to a loved one: a friend, a cousin, an aunt, a father, a sibling.
As many of you know, Dominicans are one of the largest ethnic groups in New York City. I will never forget how my mind was going really fast thinking about so many people I knew that could possibly be there. At that moment, I understood what terror means. The Spanish journalists were unfortunately more aware and somewhat used to acts of terror. Still, I could see the fear on their faces.
The events of September 11th happened three years before I moved to New York. It wasn’t even on my plans at the time. I didn’t know then that NYC would eventually become my home, the place where my two children would be born and where my husband and I would create so many memories. I didn’t know I’d become a New Yorker one day, yet the events of 9/11 shook me. I believe this to be true for most of the world.
With New York being such a melting pot and for the logical, human reasons, I feel we were all touched by the tragedy, even when did not know each other then. That’s why five friends were kind enough to share their 9/11 story. I met each one of them years after that tragic day, but when I read their experiences, I felt them as mine.
I will never forget. No one will ever forget.