The 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the United States are this weekend and it seems like all anyone is talking about, so I figured I’d join them. They say that when a memorable event happens you can remember the exact time and place along with all the details about what you were doing when said event happened. My parents have the assassination of J.F.K. and my generation has 9/11 (my parents are still alive, so technically they have 9/11 as well). So where were you when you heard the news?
It was my sophomore year in college at Western Illinois University. I was living in the dorms in a room by myself and began the day like any other. I woke up, showered and got ready to head to my Spanish class. Since the first plane hit the towers at 8:46 AM Eastern Time it was still pretty early for me, and even too early for most kids to be up and going to class. With the time difference it was 6:46AM and I had just gotten out of the shower and started walking back to my room to get ready to go when I was stopped by the cleaning lady that was cleaning the bathrooms. She asked if I had heard about what was happening in New York, I had no idea. I went back to my room and turned on the TV just as the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower. I sat glued to my TV for the next few hours, subsequently missing my classes, which ended up being canceled anyways I just didn’t bother to check. I watched live as news came in of the Pentagon being attacked and as Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, but I don’t think it was until the towers actually collapsed that the full gravity of the situation hit me. In an instance, life as we knew it had completely changed. I sat glued to the TV for the rest of the day watching the coverage, it was incredible. I remembering calling my parents house to wish my brother a happy 14th birthday, but he wasn’t around. Later I found out he was upset that I called just to talk to my parents about what was happening and didn’t wish him a happy birthday, but my only intention was to call and wish him a happy birthday, the rest of the conversation was just because he wasn’t around. I remember my dad heading out to New York to help out with the search and clean-up at ground zero. He was a firefighter (since retired) and him and a bunch of his guys jumped in a van and drove out there to see what they could do to help. I believe he told me that they didn’t help too much with the clean-up for whatever reason, but they attended a large amount of funerals for their fellow firefighters that were killed. I went out to ground zero 3 years ago and I can’t even imagine what it was like going there days after the attacks actually happened.
The following weeks were filled with anthrax scares, lock downs, threats and questions. I even remember where I was when Bush started the “Shock and Awe” campaign to find and capture the people that did this to us. I had transfered out of WIU and was attending community college back home for a semester until I could start at another University. I had a night class, US History from 1945 to the present, which was fitting, and as soon as class let out all of the TVs in the hallways were showing bombs going off as we finally retaliated for the attacks on New York. It was an awesome sight, not awesome as in cool, but awesome as in larger than life. Little did we know that 10 years later we would still be fighting what seems like an endless war. And of course I’ll remember where I was when Osama Bin Laden was finally killed, but “sitting on my couch only to find out about it via Twitter” isn’t a very good story.
We’ve spent the last few nights watching the same 9/11 documentaries that we’ve seen every year as well as some new ones, in particular the one about the rebuilding of the WTC site and the memorial. It always takes time, but there was no doubt in my mind that we would rebuild bigger and better than before and there is no doubt in my mind that we will one day leave the war in the Middle East. That being said, our way of life has forever been changed and that’s one thing that will never go back to the way it was. There are 10 year old kids out there that will never know what life was like before that fateful day, but we have to move forward and continue to live.
So where were you on September 11th 2001?