Remembering 9/11

Sunday, September 11, 2005 | 0 Comments

Today, four years ago, I was walking to the university after dropping off my son at his elementary school. Our town was still recovering from a very bad hail storm that had damaged most of the houses in town so there were restoration crews everywhere. Usually as I passed I could here them talking about people that they knew or about different jobs that they were working on. This particular morning, as I passed some construction workers, I could hear them saying something about a helicopter crashing into a building. I thought that there had been an accident in the Twin Cities.

Curious, I started to eavesdrop on even more crews as I passed. It wasn't a helicopter, it was a plane. It was a very large building. The building was on fire and in danger of collapsing. There were thousands of people trapped inside.

I really had no idea what these guys were talking about, but I could tell by the excited tone in their voices and the fact that they had all stopped working to talk about this, that this was something fairly big. I didn't stop to ask because I was already running late for class. I figured that I would catch the news after my first class.

I ended up arriving late for class, but was surprised to see no one in any of the classrooms. There was a note on the classroom door explaining that all the classes had been cancelled for the day and that extra televisions would be set up in designated areas for students to watch. There would also be news running on the projection screen in one of the large auditorium style classrooms.

OK. Whatever was going on was REALLY BIG! A very frazzled looking girl was scurrying by. I stopped her to ask what was going on. She stopped and looked at me. She was tense, I could see she had been crying.

"Oh my God! The Twin Towers! They were hit! You have to go to the student center. They have televisions there."

So I went. Immediately.

People were crammed into the building. There were people hugging. I could hear people crying. Many were standing around like zombies. Everything lifelike drained from their face. Only a blank stare remained.

I managed to get to one of the televisions. There it was in all it's visual horror. The dust, the fire, the people screaming and running. The emergency workers trying to take care of the injured as they were pulled from the buildings. It was chaotic and terrifying; and I was mesmerized.

I don't remember the specific timeline after that. I couldn't go five minutes without running to find a television to find out what was going on.

The second plane. People leaping from the windows of the towers to try and escape the fire and smoke. The video of the collapse. The wall of dust swallowing up people as they tried to flee. The plane hitting the Pentagon. The plane being brought down over Pennsylvania. People calling out for people that were still missing. I saw the same videos and news stories over and over until they burned in my mind.

I will never forget 9/11. America will never forget 9/11. It is one of the worst tragedies that this country has ever faced. I am proud to know that even in the face of such a tragedy, we, as Americans, pulled together, reached out, and helped each other. With compassion, without question. I am proud that we recovered, rebuilt and resumed our lives. We can look to this as our country recovers from Hurricane Katrina. We can take solace in knowing that just as after 9/11; as a country and a community, we will prevail.


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Blogger Indigo Red said...

I had just awakened to NPR Morning Edition. They were talking about a mid-size plane, possibly a tourist sight-seeing plane, hitting the Tower.

When I got to the television in the living room, ABC was just getting a live feed of the smoking Tower. They were still "happy talking" and saying this was some kind of accident. Then the second plane came into view.

I thought the second plane, as it curved into the picture, was an official observation plane. Then it banked into a collision course and I whispered, "Oh, God, NO!"

Then it struck and nearly went through the second Tower. I stood there, not believeing what I was seeing. Realizing what was happening, I said aloud to no one, "We are under attack. My God, we are at war."

It was also at that same moment that I finally understood those stories my mother and father had told about hearing of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The sudden and inescapable enormity of weight that fate and history had placed upon us. The seeming banality of a unique event, stunned me by its simplicity.

As our adversary has revealed himself, I am less stunned by the simple banality with which he can kill and maim. Death is prayed for and honored. I still have a hard time understanding this aspect. Life is so very precious to us I can't imagine any other vision. I am sure the mothers there love their children as much as the mothers love their children here. But, to actually wish and pray that their children die in battle is something very foreign to me.

September 12, 2005 12:08 AM

Blogger Shannon said...

I was in Russia. It was 6 in the evening (10 am est) and I stopped off at the internet center before going to have dinner with some American friends who had just returned, ironically enough, from New York. It was a beautiful calm day. Life was normal. The teen boys were looking up porn and the girls were chatting online with foriegn boys.

My father had sent me a series of frantic emails ( he couldn't call me), and I thought it was he was over-reacting. I tried to read the news on the nyt webstie- down, cnn- down, yahoo news, barely loading. I tried calling him via internet- down. I looked around the room and everything is perfectly normal- I can't shout "What the fuck is going on?" Finally, the nyt page loaded- "Twin Towers collapse."

So I met my friends, and they filled me in. It's horrific. At the restuarant, some American tourists received a phone call "What!? What!? My children are at a preschool near there? What What!" The woman started to cry. We told them where the internet center was to get informaiton.

Russian tv played a live cnn feed. It wasn't real at all. It was a movie and the translator can't keep up.

For days, people approached me and offered condolences. The director of my school embraced me in tears. A friend met me on the street and started to ball like a baby. I was comforting more people than being comforted. The guy who usually sells me vegetables won't let me haggle, and asked about my family.

September 12, 2005 8:48 AM

Blogger Spencer said...

Good Post!

September 12, 2005 8:53 AM

Blogger sands of time said...

I remember what i was doing when it happened as well.I dont think its something we will ever forget.

September 12, 2005 10:09 AM

Blogger Sandy said...

I thought the same thing as Indigo red. It was a very scary day. I will never forget how quiet it was here. All the airspace had been shut down so there were no planes flying over our house. It was eerily quiet. To this day I still have a hard time when I see firetrucks rushing to a fire. I will never forget that day.

September 12, 2005 2:55 PM

Blogger OldRoses said...

NJ is across the river so I could see the smoke on the horizon after they sent us home from work that day about noon. We had spent the morning watching the horror unfold on TV's in the office. Now I work in a building from which you can actually see Manhattan. Every anniversary, I can see the tribute beams of light (I work nights).

September 12, 2005 9:52 PM