9/11 brought forth my immigrant father’s love of America

The most patriotic act I have ever witnessed anyone perform was what my father did on 9/11. He was watching the morning news, as was his routine — despite his poor vision, hearing and understanding of English, the last of which he remedied somewhat through his keen observations and vast store of knowledge.

When he saw the first tower on fire, he rushed to the balcony to examine the horizon. From the fourth floor of our Queens apartment, he usually had a sliver of a view of downtown Manhattan. But instead of the two buildings he was used to seeing, he found only a plume of smoke. Instantly ashen, he began yelling to my mother in Persian — for nothing was ever real unless he narrated for her — “Helen, they struck! They struck the twin towers! May God strike them dead!”

For several moments, he stared into the distance, his clouded vision more clouded for the welling tears. Then, without saying a word, he grabbed his cane and headed for the street.