Six Years Later

September 11, 2007 at 9:44 pm 2 comments

A few minutes ago, my husband started flipping channels on the television and he ended up on MSNBC. They’re showing “9/11 As It Happened.”

This afternoon, I decided it would probably be good for me to write something about it; it just seems wrong to pretend like I don’t know what today is. I feel like it was sort of the elephant in the room all day anyway.

On September 11, 2001, I was living with my parents in Colorado, having moved there in the months previous for my final year of college. My parents were watching the news, as they did every morning, when I heard my mother saying, “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” from the living room. At the time, I was more concerned with why she needed to be yelling when I’d clearly just awakened. I ran into the living room wondering what could possibly be so important. It turned out she and my dad had just watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center.

I watched the immediate playback, and I remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I realized it wasn’t just an accident.

The rest of the morning was chaos, even in our small town. Since we lived in the valley north of the city limits, I rushed into town to find my boyfriend (he later become my husband). I had the grim task of breaking the news to him and a group of our friends. On my way into town I’d heard about the Pentagon, the fourth “missing plane,” and reports of a bomb at the State Department. As I left, I heard the news that both towers had fallen. I remember sitting in my car thinking, “How is that possible? That can’t possibly be true.” And then the deejays said they had a television in the station, that they were watching the news, and that the twin towers were, literally, gone.

I remember the first estimates: that some 50,000 people worked in the Trade Center. That as many as 10,000 lives might be lost.

We heard from my brother. He was in the Air Force ROTC program at his university. He’d been walking to class when one of his fellow cadets stopped him and told him to go straight home and change his clothes. My brother had been in his uniform that morning, and in all the confusion – and with so many attacks taking place without warning – he was warned that his military uniform made him a potential target.

Friends in England emailed me to make sure I was okay, and to offer their messages of support to me – and, by extension, to all Americans. I knew that deep down, they knew I was fine. But I also realized how that email really represented the deep friendship our two nations share.

I thought about that day every day for the next year. I don’t know why I took it so personally; I just did. I think I was so struck by the animosity behind it – it was the first time I’d ever experienced something so profoundly hateful and so devastating to so many people.

I was relieved when the first anniversary passed without incident.

And now here we are, six years later. Watching the news tonight, I’ve really been struck by how innocent we were before that day. Just minutes ago, I watched the footage of the second plane hitting, and a reporter on the ground who’d witnessed it said something to the effect of, “I wonder if there’s a problem with air traffic control.”

This afternoon I came across this website. Mygooddeed.org was founded by friends and family of a man killed at the Trade Center on September 11. Remember how you felt in the days and weeks immediately following the attacks? Remember what it was like to be part of something bigger than yourself? To genuinely care about your neighbor? This site seeks to turn tragedy into triumph by recapturing the commitment to each other that we all felt in the autumn of 2001. It’s about making a pledge – either for September 11 or all year long – to do something for someone else for the betterment of humanity. I have been so moved by the good deeds people have planned for today – simple things like washing dishes and smiling at strangers on the street.

Times have changed. Whether we agree with the politics of these new times or not, I hope that we can honor the victims of September 11 by doing something positive in their memory.

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Out of the Bubble Becoming a Real Teacher

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. inspiredclassrooms  |  September 12, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    The link to mygooddeed.org was truly inspirational. Thanks for that. Reading through the comments left on that site reminds me that its the little things that always make the biggest difference. As I think about how I often get caught up in making the big shift in education, I forget that it always comes down to making a positive difference one kiddo at a time. If we all do one good deed (on behalf of a student) in our class every day, THEN we will see the shift we are looking for.

  • 2. drawingfromlife  |  September 12, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    I thought I would share my memory…..it’s a lot like yours. I too was in college in Canyon, TX. I remember walking into the Activity center to go to Health class. There was a big screen TV upstairs in the lobby, and a small group of people gathered around was quickly getting larger. As I noticed the image on the TV (the first tower had just been struck), I remember being overwhelmed by a feeling of complete confusion. I noticed the CNN logo, so I knew it wasn’t a movie, or TV show, but I couldn’t imagine that this was something actually happening.

    Listening to the commentators describe what was happening, I realized that they too were completely dumbfounded. Nobody could get a grip on what was actually happening. Several fellow students were crying, and no one could seem to look away from the set. I managed to tear myself away from the TV, and quickly left campus and returned home. I got home just in time to see the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower, and to call my wife. She was at work, and had barely heard what was going on. I wanted to make sure she was OK, but I remember she was too busy with her class at work to really talk.

    As soon as we hung up, the 1st tower fell. Shortly after, the 2nd. I remember the updates and side stories about the plane in Pennsylvania, and the one that hit the Pentagon. I remember not being able to really think much about those planes though. The impact of watching the towers fall on live TV, was all I could think about. I still have the image imbedded in my memory.

    My father, and several close friends were in the armed forces, and eventually spent a year in Guantanamo Bay guarding the detainees. I think about the sacrifices that they and thousands of other men and women have made, and continue to make, and it fills me with great pride to be an American. As cliche as that sounds, it is a sentiment that hopefully we will not take lightly, everyday, and not just on anniversaries of such tragic events.

    Thanks for your post. During my busy schedule, I did not have much time to think about all our country has gone through in the past 6 years. Thanks for making me stop and think.

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