Jacqui Burwell

On Sept. 11, 2001, I saw smoke in the distance as I crossed the street toward my job at Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem. I had on my earphones and was jamming to Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine” — my usual workday routine. My eyes watered and I said a prayer for those lost, both physically and mentally, when I learned what had happened.

May 31, 2005, marked my first day as an Army civilian. I was anxious to work in whatever capacity I could alongside those who every day protect my freedom.

As the 10-year anniversary approaches, I reflect on that day and am thankful for seeing those responsible put to an end. Yet there are still more to be stopped. The rebuilding of the World Trade Center location proved across the world, that we, the United States of America, are a strong and resilient country. We are not a melting pot of strangers, but a family who pulls together in a crisis and able to go forward.

Burwell works at the New York Military Entrance Processing Station.