Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Ago

Someday my boys will ask me if I remember September 11, 2001.  They'll ask where I was, what I felt, how I reacted.  I certainly remember doing school projects where I asked my grandparents about Pearl Harbor and my parents about the JFK assasination and the Challenger explosion.  These are all such defining moments in our nation's history and I know when I woke up that morning, I never imagined that I was about to experience one of those moments that my children would someday be interviewing me about.

I was 18 years old and had just started college, a brand new freshman at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  I hadn't even figured out what the quickest route to walk to my classes was yet.  I woke up that Tuesday morning and went to my first class at 8:50 without any clue of what had already taken place in New York.  I didn't turn on the TV before I left my dorm.  I arrived for my French 101 class and realized I still needed to staple my assignment before I turned it in, but the classroom didn't have a stapler.  I knew there was a media room a floor below that had one (I'd done it before), so I ran down there quick before class started.

There was a large group of people gathered around a huge projection screen and another group huddled around a TV, but it was dead quiet.  I snuck a peek at what they were watching and the picture on the screen and the headline showed the Pentagon burning.  I figured the Pentagon had caught fire somehow, but didn't really think too much of it.  I returned to class.

I headed to my next class, a large lecture.  When the professor began his lecture for the day he said, "I'm sure all of you have heard by now what's going on in New York, but we're going to carry on with class for today."  I'm sitting there like an idiot thinking, "The Pentagon is in New York?"

It wasn't until I returned to my dorm room after that lecture that I turned on the TV.  By that time, both towers had fallen, the Pentagon was still smouldering, and United 93 had crashed.  I swear, I sat on that futon and stared at the screen for the next 4 hours.  I don't remember getting up to go to the bathroom, going to eat, or anything else.  I do remember our RA poking her head in and asking how I was doing, but for the life of me I cannot remember my response.  The rest of that day is a total blur.  Everyone on my floor just stayed in their rooms, watched the news, and sat in shock. 

When that day arrives and Isaiah comes home from school and asks me about my recollection of 9-11, I want to be able to tell him more than just my experience.  I want to be able to give him some sort of reason for why it happened.  I wish I could explain to him why thousand of people died that day, but nothing I can come up with seems good enough.

I can't believe it's been ten years.  My thoughts and prayers today are with those who lost loved ones on this day ten years ago.  We will never forget.

P.S.  This video gets me every time.  It was shot from the window of an NYU dorm room on that morning.  The sheer terror that comes through kicks me in the gut.

We will never forget.

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