Wednesday

Remembering 9/11

Where were you on 9/11? Once a year for 12 years, this has been the question on everyone’s lips on the anniversary of September 11th. I think it's important we never forget where we have been as individuals and as a country.

So where was I? I had just taken my '88 Saab 900 to get inspected with my mom. I'd taken the day off from high school to do it and planned on enjoying the rest of the day with my newly inspected car. As we were leaving the garage, someone in the waiting area said, "I think something's going on..." as they listened to a small radio by the front desk.

We hopped in my car, turned the radio on, and headed home. Within moments of pulling out we heard, "One of the towers has been struck!" A clearly upset deejay on the radio began rattling off a broken string of what little details were known as he and his co-star watched the news. One of the twin towers was under attack in New York.

In shock, we flew home. By the time we ran threw the front door and turned the TV on we were just in time to watch the second tower be struck.

It was probably one of the most surreal moments of my life. And being a teenager, the only thing I could think to do was call my best friend who also happened to be home that day from high school. We sat on the phone together in disbelief. Her father was actually flying that day so her family was struggling to find out whether or not he was safe. My dad had friends that worked in the twin towers and he couldn't get a hold of anyone to determine whether or not they were there when the towers were struck.

I remember sitting on the phone with her as we watched the towers collapse on TV. It was ... unbelievable.

We eventually had to get off the phone. The rest of the afternoon was kind of a blur. I remember my mom trying to figure out how to get to my siblings in high school and elementary. The schools were on lock down and kept the kids in the gymnasiums and classrooms with no explanation for why--poorly handled much to the outrage of many parents. My boyfriend at the time was at our local high school as well and by the time I tried to call and text him the circuits were flooded and I couldn't get through. Eventually, they bused the kids home in waves and the high schoolers that drove were allowed to leave. Rumors had circulated among the kids, but it wasn't until they got home or hopped in their cars that they learned what had happened.

By the evening, details of what had happened and who was believed to be responsible were broadcast and the question of whether or not we should expect anything else hung in the air. Being on the east coast, the threat of whether or not someone would target us in Boston was a local concern. I remember finally getting a hold of my boyfriend and staying on our cell phones for hours. It was so different as an American teenagers to suddenly be overcome with fear for our safety like this. As a country we sometimes took our security and safety for granted. Other countries lived and still live in constant fear. That simply hadn't been a factor for us here in my lifetime.

My boyfriend was a firefighter part-time in our town and I remember he and his friends closely following the stories of the emergency personnel that bravely went into the buildings, and later rubble, to save whatever lives they could.

I remember the days after, everyone was so patriotic. Radio stations played patriotic music for days before returning back to normal broadcasts. I remember the racism that was fueled by this event that still exists today in many places. It's scary how mass panic can turn people irrationally against one another. I remember having friends that joined the military not long after and fearing for their safety as they were sent overseas.

Twelve years have past and I still remember so much about that day. 9/11 was a global tragedy. Many, many lives were lost--U.S. citizens and international visitors.

I hope we never forget what happened on 9/11 and that our attitudes towards this immense loss of life doesn't lighten as time goes on. Hopefully as a country we can be vigilant and wise without cruelty and ignorance.

#NeverForget

Where were you on 9/11? I would love to hear your stories. 

6 comments :

  1. I worked second shift in Princeton at the time, and had rolled out of bed around 9 AM. Instead of hearing "Good morning" from my mother, her first words were "We're going to war." I remember standing in the family room watching the news unfold in horror, falling to my knees as the towers collapsed.

    Never have I seen the roads so empty - I had an hour-long commute, and only saw emergency vehicles trying to break the sound barrier in their efforts to reach Manhattan. Most of the day was spent in the studio, trying to listen to the news as we finished the work that needed processing, then printing up & laminating flags. It was all we could do to hold it together.

    The panic, the fear, the worrying for loved ones - these all stand out. I had family in both New York and Washington that day, all of whom saw what was going on but were unharmed. It breaks my heart to know that my father buried over fifty friends and acquaintances in the days that followed.

    I shared this in a college classroom once, as it was the first major news event for many of my classmates. Some didn't have crystal-clear memories, but all knew where they were.

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    1. Thank you for sharing. I have never come across a single person that didn't know exactly where they were when they heard the towers had been struck or fallen. I hope we never forget and pass these memories reverently on to the coming generations.

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  2. Like you, Doria, I was in high school... but IN school that day. It was first period (architecture class) and we always listened to the radio as we did our projects. When the news came over the airwaves, it was all history from there. One teacher rolled in a TV and I saw the towers get hit, then collapse for the first time. The rest of the day was a blur. It was a much different experience living that tragedy all the way from the mid-west.

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  3. That day will be etched in my memory forever. I was in the car on the way to work when I heard about the first tower being struck. I never imagined it was an attack. When I got to work and watched the rest of the footage I realized. God Bless America.

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  4. I was still asleep when it took place, and when I woke up and walked into the hall to get in the shower before work - my mom was standing in front of the tv and said "We are f'ed". At work we watched the footage and there were lots of tears.

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  5. I was in a class when it happened, and I remember campus being eerily empty when I got out and headed to my next class. Not many people showed up, and the couple people that did that mentioned it were known for having sick twisted humor. Nobody believed them until class was cancelled. I lost a friend that day, and I'm still in shock over it.

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