Friday, September 09, 2011

September 11th: Ten years later

I debated whether or not I should do a post about the 10th anniversary of September 11th. I'm sure a lot of bloggers will be writing about their own experiences in the days to come, but after my mom, sister and I got to talking last night about how shocked we were that a decade had passed and started remembering where we were when we heard about the planes and about the Twin Towers, I thought I'd share my own story with you, friends.

I honestly can't believe it's been 10 years. A decade. So much has happened - in my own life and more importantly, in the world - in those those years than I ever thought possible. And yet, when I thought back over everything last night, a part of me felt like the horrible attacks just happened yesterday. People have said that 9/11 is my generation's JFK assassination, and they're absolutely right. Just as my parents's generation can remember exactly where they were when they heard President Kennedy had been shot, my generation can remember, without a pause, where we were on September 11, 2001. I had just started my sophomore year in college (ironically, at the same college I teach at now...) and was at my dad's office before heading off to class. I remember my mom calling us from work and telling us what had happened. Stunned, my dad quickly hooked up this small, old, barely useable television, and we watched in horror as the news unfolded, growing grimmer and grimmer by the minute. My dad's co-workers began to trickle in to watch with us, and none of us knew what to say, so we just stared at the screen. What was there to say? We couldn't imagine what we were seeing, let alone formulate words to describe our exasperation.

A few hours later, I found myself at school, which hadn't been cancelled yet, and it was all we could talk about in class. I was editor of my college's newspaper at the time (ironically, again, the same paper I advise now), and being the young, intrepid journalists that we were, we got right down to re-working the upcoming issue. It's weird to think of the days before everything went viral at warp-speed, of the days before Facebook and Twitter, but during those first few days, we tried to figure out how to tell the story to our readers while still trying to process everything that happened ourselves. I remember writing my Editor's Letter, and for the first time in my young career, I really felt the weight of my responsibility as a journalist. Readers would be looking to us for information, guidance and comfort. It was a responsibility I didn't take lightly in that letter.

Now, 10 years later, we're all different people, whether you were in New York City on that day or whether you were in a small Midwestern town, like me, watching the tragedy unfold on a small TV. But there's no denying that our minds will drift to that day come Sunday. Have you been paying attention to the coverage of the 10th anniversary? I was especially moved by this New York Magazine feature. They talked to a group of teens who were in the same kindergarten class in New York City on September 11th. It's interesting to read their words and see what they remember, 10 years later...
*My mom came and picked me up after the first plane hit, and I saw the other plane go right above me and hit the other building. I remember seeing people jumping from the windows—I remember that. And I asked my mom, “Oh, do they have a trampoline at the bottom?” She was like, “No.” I’m like, “Then why are they jumping?” She’s like, “I don’t know.” And then we started to run away.

­*Basically, as soon as it happened, my mom was able to pick me up quickly, and she brought me about a block and a half away from the Towers and put me in a fire truck—she worked with the FDNY. She went off to run messages because the Handie-Talkies weren’t working ’cause they were so overloaded. While I was in the truck, firemen were telling me messages to give to their children and their wives and everything, like, 'Tell my kid I love him,' 'Tell my wife I love her.' One fireman said to me, 'Grow up and be a good man'.

*When we got home, me and my brother watched the news. I think it was the first time I ever watched the news.

*It just taught me something that I would have learned later in life, that bad things can happen.


What are your thoughts, friends? Where were you on September 11, 2001? How has the day affected you? I'd love to hear your story... xoxo

4 comments:

  1. I remember just being at home waiting for my mam to come home from work and it was all over our BBC news. Since meeting and dating my boy who's America it feels a lot more stronger, I can relate to it a little more because of his experiences of the day too. And I worry because he is in America - even though I know I cant protect him, just wish I could be closer. Yet it really doesn't seem like ten years ago, still feels unreal that people could cause that kind of utter horror to their own mankind.

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  2. Oh my goodness. The story of the kid in the truck listening to those messages just gives me chills. Thanks for posting this. I was at home listening to the radio getting ready for my college writing class. Driving to class was the most surreal and unforgettable feeling.

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  3. rachel, that's an interesting perspective, having lived in the UK at the time!

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  4. tiffany, i remember just thinking "how could something like this even be happening?" my whole college was just in shock...

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