I witnessed America under attack just like everyone else. I saw the flags wave as the attacks were over, and I heard the patriotic melodies sung and played. I felt the pain with the families who lost loved ones, and I wondered in agony if my closest friends in New York were okay.
At first I felt that I couldn’t take part in the singing, the flag waving or the strong hatred that grew against terrorism. I am not American, I am Swedish, and I have only lived in this country for a few years.
When the first retaliation attacks against Afghanistan started, the only thought that came to my mind was, “I wanna go home.” Then I realized that even though this started in the United States, this is something that the whole world will be involved in. We don’t know where the next bomb is going to hit or where the next plane will crash.
I also read this part of a poem my friend sent me.
“I am a New Yorker
Whatever took me out of New York
Did not take New York out of me
My accent may have faded and my pace may have slowed
But I am a New Yorker
And I always will be”
I knew that even if it was not my country that had been attacked, it was still my city and my landmark that was destroyed. My friends were in New York that day, and my firefighters were struggling to find survivors at the World Trade Center.
Would I abandon the network of family and friends that I created in this country because of some stupid terrorists?
The first bombs are dropped in Afghanistan and I am not scared to be in America. On the other end of the phone line my family in Sweden call with frightened voices, demanding that “if America goes to war you are coming home immediately.”
I tell them that even though I swore I would never be American and I am still not, I am a New Yorker, and I always will be.