Even 7 years later, September 11th is a significant day for me. Though I don’t know anyone who was personally impacted by a death on that day, I always feel a sense of national loss. I think many of us felt that our sense of security and innocence were traumatized. I still glance up at airplanes, I loathe the personal freedoms that have been infringed on in the name of security, and I cannot ever go back to being so ignorant of the amount of hatred some people have for Americans, just because we exist.
Where were you when you first heard about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center? I was up early that morning, studying biochemistry. About 7:30, my sister-in-law called me. It was early for her to call and she had a weird tone to her voice.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Studying. What are you doing?”
“Turn on the news.” she said.
So I did, and that’s when I heard Katie Couric speculating that a small plane had somehow struck one of the towers. I watched in horror a few minutes later as the second plane hit. I was stunned and felt immediately that there was something terribly, terribly wrong.
As the events of the day unfolded, it all seemed very surreal. I remember calling Darling and asking him to come home. I remember debating dressing my then 2 year-old Sunshine in her flag t-shirt. While I wanted to demonstrate my solidarity with America, the university childcare where she went for half-days while I took graduate classes had a very diverse population and I didn’t want her to be a target if somehow, some of the terror touched our part of the nation (highly unlikely, but everything felt wrong that day).
I remember sitting and watching the images over and over and over again, Sunshine wiping my tears away as she just couldn’t comprehend Mommy sitting there and crying. I remember trying to explain “the bad people” who had committed such atrocities and re-assuring her that we were safe (though I had absolutely no guarantee of that).
Many classes were cancelled at the university and I tried to go study at the library, but someone had rolled a t.v. into the foyer and I had no will to pull away from the breaking news any more than the cluster of staff and other students did.
The politics of the day and since then have left the story a bit muddled, I think. But what I know is this: I will never be the same. I take cookies to the nearest fire station on this anniversary, and thank them for the job they do. America will never be the same. While fear was created in many places, so was a greater sense of community. The world will never be the same. Terror and evil touch almost every corner of the globe, but now, there is a microscope on it.
Heroes were born and heroes died that day. America woke up, and the whole world was paying attention.
Where were you?