7 years ago I was on my way up to NYC do exit-polling for the NY gubernatorial race. I was in the backseat of the car with the Daphne Kwok, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), and Emmy Akiyama, Deputy Director of APAICS. I had recently started my position as Director of Programs at the national headquarters of the Organization of Chinese Americans (a national Pan-Asian American civil rights organization).

We had started our drive early and had mistakenly taken a longer route to NYC from DC. En route, my sister calls and Daphne's mother calls us around the same time. A plane had just smashed into one of the towers and both wanted to know if we were already up there. We weren't. Then the second plane hit the second tower and we begun to turn around and head home. As we're headed home the Pentagon is hit. We are officially lost and confused and stuck between two war zones. We worried about Giles Li, then Director of Communications of OCA, since he was supposed to be on a plane that morning out to AZ, I think.

Once home and realizing what had happened was so surreal. Sean had just left to go out to sea that morning too, so I was praying that he wouldn't worry about me being in NYC. I worried about a childhood friend/neighbor who worked in the towers too. Luckily, she had decided to get a bagel and coffee...something out of the ordinary her mother said, and escaped any harm. Had she not, she would've have been one of the victims as well since her office was high up top.

The weeks following were surreal as well. Being a block and a half away from the White House, there were tanks and armed military police patrolling the streets outside the building. Riding the Metro (subway) was unnerving too with so many talks of dirty bombs and subway attacks.

Still, all that fear and unrest was nothing compared to those who lost their lives and those who lost loved ones that day. Life is truly precious. I had learned that 2 years prior when I lost my father. There is nothing and no one that you can take for granted. Spend time with those who matter. Tell those you care how much they mean to you. Take nothing, NOTHING for granted.

My thoughts are with the families and others who lost people they cared about 7 years ago and how this day will be dredging up painful memories.