Remembering 9/11

Today, we all stop to remember what we were doing on September 11, 2001.  Where were we when we heard the news that the Twin Towers were under attack by American commercial planes? That the pentagon had been attacked? That one of the hijacked flights had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania when the crew and passengers refused to allow the hijacker to carry out his mission?

A few generations ago, the question “Where were you when JFK was killed?” created a bond among Americans that were old enough to remember this national tragedy.  And now, the question, “Where were you on September 11?” has become a point of discussion, both making us contemplative and sad, but also giving us a sense of unity.

Are we better off than we were that day?  Are we safer? Was the retaliation justified?

We may never agree on our answers to these questions.  But for one moment, while we discuss our whereabouts on the most frightening day of my generation, we are united by a common feeling and a common event.  Call it national pride, shock, or what have you, but it’s something we as Americans all share.

On September 11, 10 years ago today, I was 18 years old and had been away at college, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for about three weeks. On a whim, I decided to return to my dorm room between an early morning class and a late morning class.  My suite-mate called me into her room as soon as I opened the door to our adjoining hallway.  I walked into her room and she pointed at the television.  It was almost 10 am at this point and I stared in disbelief as the news showed images of the collapse of the second tower and replays of the two planes hitting the Twin Towers.  I sat in the floor of my suite-mates room for at least 30 minutes in shock.

At some point, I decided to see if my roommate was in our dorm and finding her still in bed, I woke her up to tell her what had happened.  Not fully understanding the  position of the anarchist that I shared a room with, I was in shock a second time that morning when she cheered at the news.  And for the first time, I stood up against her  ramblings against capitalism and everything it stands for because she was cheering for, not merely an ideology different from my own, but an event that cost people their lives.

Being on a college campus on that day affected me much differently than had it happened just a few months earlier, while I still lived with my parents.  For one, the diversity of UNC put students in contact with people who had direct ties with employees at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.  Everyone was in complete disbelief and there was some unspoken rule that no one would expect us to go to class.  But most of us showed up at my late morning Anthropology class seeing some sense of normalcy and maybe even to be comforted by an authority figure.  I’ll never forget hearing students frantically calling people on their cell phones to check on the whereabouts of family members who may or may not have been at one of the sites of attack.

Everyone felt different emotions and reacted to the events of the day differently.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to actually be or know someone present at one of the attacks.  However, I clearly remember taking all of the events of the day in and being very afraid.  Just three weeks earlier, I had been living with my parents under their care and protection. Now I was an adult in a world that seemed to be falling down around us.  I had never dealt with such apprehension for the future.

Today, it’s interesting to look back on how that event shaped and continues to shape my generation.  The aftermath of the attacks on September 11 has made up over a third of my life.  While the changes that have occurred as a result may be shocking to older Americans, it’s the only world I’ve known as an adult. There’s no doubt that this single day has shaped who I am as a person and especially how I see the world.

But today isn’t just about the monumental affect September 11 had on all of us, it’s also a day to remember those who gave their time and their lives and continue to do so to make sure we never experience another a similar tragedy.

Thank you to the men and women, both in the States and abroad, who continue to serve everyday to make our future a less scary place, to give us safety and security from those who threaten our freedom.  Thank you.  The sacrifices you and your families make on a daily basis are truly appreciated.

Where were you 10 years ago today?

5 Responses to Remembering 9/11

  1. I said the same thing on my blog today about the JFK shooting!
    I can’t believe your roomate…..that makes me so sick to my stomach.

  2. Christine

    Great post. WOW I think your roommates response was an indicator of her immaturity at the time and I would feel fairly certain that when she thinks back to that moment she feels ashamed. I am from NJ and that is a day that affected our entire country but living so close to it was a different feeling. I watched it getting ready for work after my husband and I moved into a new house. My poor husband to this day gets chocked up when he watches anything on TV about it. He worked in the city, helped many people and says he can still remember the screaming, the smell and the terror all around him.

  3. I will always remember being ushered into the auditorium in middle school. All of the students were sitting down while all of the teachers were standing in front of us, whispering to each other. They didn’t tell us anything and quickly, students’ parents were picking them up. It wasn’t until my dad picked me up from school that I found out that the Trade towers were hit. It wasn’t until after the plane hit the Pentagon that it all felt so real since I live so close to DC and my brother was sick at Children’s Hospital and we would drive by the Pentagon every day to get to the hospital. We will never forget…

  4. Elizabeth

    I was also at UNC – Chapel Hill on Sept. 11th, and attended my Anth class that morning, perhaps the same as you. I remember the professor spoke about what had happened and then sent us home early. It saddens me that your roommate would behave in such a horrible way.

  5. Elizabeth

    I had just started grad school at Vanderbilt–just moved to the city from small town America. I was in shock and scared. e

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