Near the corner of 6th Ave and 31St Street, a mere three miles from where the planes crashed into the Twin Towers, Burke instantly knew something unusual was happening, although the idea that the United States was under attack had not yet crept into her consciousnesses.
When asked how she plans on commemorating the anniversary of the attacks and if the events of that day still impact her, she replied:
"I have no plans other to come to work. My prayer each and everyday, whether I verbally say it, or not, is to get to and from home safely. I am just as concerned about a car accident, a stray bullet, a random act of domestic violence or hate crime, as I am of a terrorist threat. Quite frankly, I believe the chance of all but the latter are far greater.
9/11, does not and cannot touch me like it did the families and friends who lost a love one that day. Even at the memorial, the most I could feel was disbelief. There I was standing where two signature buildings once stood; where lives were lost.
For me, way back in my mind, I remember me avoiding watching the TV as long as I possibly could. I recall the image of Penn Station plastered with missing persons flyers. I recall the stench of burning metal across the Hudson to my home in Edison, NJ. I recall, except for the sirens, being able to hear a pin drop in NYC. I recall walking more blocks than I can now recall as one of my college roommates and I walked and walked from the Flat Iron district in the low 20s before we finally were able to catch a bus to her apartment on 96th street. And I recall upon arriving there that I could no longer avoid watching the TV. The nightmares I had the next two weeks reminded that I wish I had never seen people deciding between burning to death or jumping to their death. It is those types of memories that I harbor away until someone asks me about that day.
I recall exactly where I was when it became apparent that something unusual had happened. At the time I had no idea what it was, I certainly did not know it was the unthinkable, but I know I was approaching 6th Ave and 31St street when the first plane hit.
There is more that I can recall about that day, but no matter what I recall, I can never imagine what it was like to lose my mother, father, sister, brother, or best friend that day. Therefore, as I started to say, I do not do much on 9/11, but to continue to live my life, thanking God for all of my blessings, and praying that today is not the day for my life on this earth to be over. "
The events of that horrific day in September impacted every American in one way or another. When I first saw the news report and the initial shock had worn off, my thoughts turned to Pam. I worried about additional attacks, whether her building would be next and I began praying for her and all of New York. When the first tower fell, my thoughts and prayers then went to the first responders. Although I had left the law enforcement profession a year earlier, it was still as if I was witnessing the death of family members.
As Burke said, the events of September 11th cannot impact me the way it impacted those who lost loved ones. It cannot impact me the way it did those who were there, whether in New York or Washington DC or a field in Pennsylvania. But it does impact me, it affects every American, and people across the world. The security procedures now in place at airports for example, they affect those who fly every single day, both here in the United States and abroad. Our world was changed that morning in September, and we are left to hope and pray that it will never be changed in such a way again.
~I would like to thank Ms. Burke for her willingness to share her thoughts and memories regarding such an emotional and personal subject. ~