Out of nearly 3000 names listed she was the only one with that name – our name.
We are the same, but different.
Though born ten years and a month apart, I’m now the one who’s older – and it was I who was looking for her there.
We both love to fly, her the window-seat fanatic but I prefer the aisle. She wanted to be a pilot but her eyesight meant that she had to consider otherwise.
We are both University students – I in Melbourne, her in San Jose – but she’d never finish her degree.
She travelled to New York for a holiday with her best friend, just as I am doing now, but she is yet to return home.
Nicole Carol Miller
I came to find a personal connection in this place I’ve heard of so much – the television, newspaper and Internet have been plastered with news, conspiracies or otherwise for 11 years, so much that it annoys me that networks are allowed to continually reuse the footage instead of giving these people, their families and friends closure.
For me, I feel that I’ve been overexposed to the words 911, airplane crashed into the World Trade Center, Al Qaeda, and Flight 93 so much so that I’ve become desensitised to them.
It’s sad that I can say that because it was the day that a weight changed the balance so much in the world, including the shift in prejudice of people because of the colour of a person’s skin or their religion.
But by finding her name – my name – at this place, it gave a new meaning to the words Flight 93.
I was 11-years-old when she was 21.
While I was waking up, readying myself for another day at school, she was perhaps fighting for her life.
My flashbulb memory, hearing the news in the hallway of my primary school, marked where her day – her life – ended, yet it was just another monotonous day for me.
I became desensitised to her story, all three-thousand other people’s stories. For me it was the day my best friend cried because the news of 9/11 “ruined her birthday” because that was all anyone talked about, never wishing her a good day on her 12th-birthday.
I became desensitised to the words because my world was blasted with the news across every media I had access to. That night after school, I sat on the couch for four hours and listened to what each channel had to say before turning the TV off, wanting nothing else to do with their stories.
It was too much for me then.
Eleven years it took, but I’ve come back to learn more.
I went in with my defence’s high, alert to anything that I could use as ammunition against this place. Ready to disregard it, to call it a tourist trap, and to leave to say: “I told you so.”
I couldn’t do that.
Walking around the grounds it’s hard to imagine that 11-years-ago stood the two tallest buildings in Manhattan. Thousands of people streamed through the doors every day for work or meetings without thinking twice about whether or not they’d be alive at the end of the day.
Their world was shattered that day.
Now instead of graceful buildings and office workers going to-and-fro are two ponds, the size of the bases of the buildings, dozens of police casting a watchful eye, a not-quite-ready museum and park space – a memorial to those who lost their lives in some way on that day.
Something beautiful in such an ugly place.
Now 18,000 tourists flock there each day with more to come when construction finishes. Smiling at cameras, the cascading waters a symphony to them but can’t anyone hear that it’s really a cacophony? Is smiling the right thing to do in a place that is essentially a cemetery?
Four new towers begin to loom over this place, including One World Trade Center, referred to colloquially as Freedom Tower, instead of leaving it open as something of a sanctuary amongst the stifling crush of buildings.
In this place, it’s hard not to be overcome with emotion. For some there are tears as they remember, for others, it’s stoic patriotism; how a country has bounced back from such devastation and gone on to place a firm foothold into the war on terror.
For me it was anger.
I was angered that despite the tribute to the people who lost their lives that day, 9-11-01, the American Government is trying to squeeze every penny from the place.
Bins stating that $5 donations are preferred for each and every person were present at every stop, pencils adorning emergency service departments logos, tablecloths in which every person who died that day has had their name emblazoned in red or blue to make a commemorative edition of the American flag, and photographs of the area in ruins are all for sale – there is a time and a place for everything but it’s not the place to be profiteering from the death of so many people. It’s meant to be a place of remembrance.
The dollar signs which have been put on the 9-11 memorial site has turned something of an almost beautiful memorial into a tourist trap and a way to squeeze another dollar.
There’s got to be a better way.
She never finished University or got to marry the man she loved.
She died in a field outside of Stonycreek in Pennsylvania aboard Flight 93 when four men with ill intentions took over her plane.
Was she scared? Did she cry? We can only speculate as we gaze at her name among so many others whose lives were taken on that fateful day.
She may be gone but she won’t be forgotten, as she’s become my connection to an event that I wanted nothing to do with as a child; an event that has shaped my life as a young adult; an event which has now become personal thanks to a single connection.
Out of nearly 3,000 names listed she was the only one with that name.
National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center
One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10006
Information about Nicole Carol Miller has come from this site and the 9/11 Memorial.