Yesterday was the 5th year anniversary of 9/11. As a former New Yorker who was in NY on that awful day, I can look back with the sadness that has filled every one of our hearts, but also with great awe of some things that happened that day. The day was also filled with thousands upon thousands of stories of miracles and people who knew that they were saved from disaster.

Remembering back to the day, I was watching Katie and Matt on TV when the whole thing happened. The first thing I did was to call my husband who was in midtown working for Morgan Stanley. I told him to turn on the TV and when they did, they all knew within minutes that thousands of other workers from their company were in the towers and watched in horror knowing that some of them could have perished. My own husband had an offer to work in the towers for Morgan Stanley in a different department. Somehow, he ended up in the mid town offices instead. That decision may have saved his life.

I regularly was a trainer for a Wall Street firm who held our trainings at Windows of the World. I wasn’t working that day, however, I had a friend, Monica, who was supposed to be at a writers conference that morning at Windows of the World. She decided not to attend the conference that day. That simple decision probably saved her life because most of the people who were at the conference perished.

Days after the towers collapsed, nearly everyone I spoke with had a similar story. I spoke with one man, Bill Throurlby, the original Marlboro man, who said a guy came up to him and said, “Mr. Throurlby, you saved my life! I remember hearing your words that morning in my head from an earlier speech you gave, that ‘successful people are busy people’ so I left the Towers and went to a meeting about 10 minutes before the disaster. Had I stayed, I could have died.”

Another friend was frantically looking for his roommate that day but he decided to be late to work that day and never even made it in. That decision probably saved his life.

There were literally thousands of these stories from people who were supposed to be there that day, and for some reason, they didn’t go to work, or were going in late. The numbers of death could have reached 20,000, yet somehow, only 2700+ died. It is 2700 too many of course, and we’ll never forget the terror of watching the towers come down. We’ll never forget hearing the voices of the scared workers who were trapped in a burning building and we’ll never forget the firefighters who gave their lives saving others.

I’ll never forget the thousands of flyers posted at Grand Central Station, trying to find the men and women that were missing, or the millions of flowers that were placed at the fire station around the corner from our apartment. I’ll never forget how thousands of helpless people ran to stand in line at the Red Cross to donate blood, hoping to help someone, somehow, during this meaningless tragedy.

That day will forever be scarred in my memory. Upon seeing my friends appear at the apartment grounds and the scared look in their eyes and the dust on their clothes, I remember feeling gratitude and thanking God that they were alright. I remember feeling loved and prayed for when hundreds of emails flooded my mailbox from friends all over just checking on me to make sure I was alright.

Since that time, a good friend who volunteered day and night to pass out food to the workers has now developed cancer. She’s one of many that probably has lingering physical effects of that day, whereas most of us endure the emotional scars.

As I reflect back to that day, I pray for all of the victims’ families who are left wondering why their loved ones didn’t make it back safe. I pray that God will bring them comfort and that one day, they’ll feel that there was a bigger purpose at stake, but we must never forget to pray for their comfort.

9/11 brought sorrow, tears and pain, but it also brought gratitude, comfort and joy to others who somehow made it out alive. We’ve all changed since then. We’re not so naïve, and we’re not so blind to the evil in the world. We’re stronger because we know that we have to fight for what we believe in, and with that belief, comes sacrifice.

9/11, forever in our memory, and in our hearts.

May God Bless America.