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Monday, September 12, 2016

September 11th

This past weekend, television helped us remember 9-11, not that the day fifteen years ago isn’t imprinted on our memories. As with most tragedies, we know exactly where we were when we heard the news. I was in my doctor’s office waiting for the mammogram technician. I’d brought a book (as usual). While I was reading, I became aware that a news report was coming through the intercom. What I was hearing didn’t make sense. The tech came in, and we expressed the same confusion. Then the report said another plane had hit the second tower.

Stunned, I couldn’t wait to get home and watch television. A message beeped on our answering machine. Hubs had called saying turn on the TV. I already had. Confusion, fear, horror. I tried to make sense of what had happened. I couldn’t.

I remember being so upset (what a wimpy word) for days that I couldn’t write, couldn’t even read messages from online groups. I couldn’t understand why this event affected me so. I lived in the Midwest, nowhere near Manhattan. But for days I felt like I was in a fog. I watched news shows to learn more. I needed an explanation. A reason for this horrific act.

When I finally went back online, I realized I wasn’t alone. Others felt the same way. There was comfort in that knowledge.

I’d been to New York City three times before 9-11. I went back in 2003 (for a conference) and noticed the difference. The police were everywhere, yet not in a threatening manner. You could tell they were alert despite their casual stances. People were friendlier, including restaurant servers, their storied rudeness replaced by smiles and helpfulness.

For years, I couldn’t watch the remembrances. Too soon. Too raw. I still haven’t watched the movie World Trade Center. Again, too soon.  Now I watch the programs on the anniversaries. I don’t want to forget. I imagine my parents felt the same way about December 7th. My grandchildren were born after 9-11. We should make sure they, their generation, and generations to come never forget we were attacked on our home soil. Not by a nation or a religion, but by narrow-minded extremists, fanatical suicide bombers more deadly than those that attacked Pearl Harbor.

Many things changed afterward. Heightened security, especially at airports. Fear paralyzed us, but not for long. Quickly, we learned that giving into anxiety played into the hands of the terrorists. They would win again. As a nation, we proved our resilience. We went back to work, went on vacations, carried on our daily routines. We might (and should) be more alert, but we weren’t cowed by the attack.

We are survivors.
credit: Alamy stock photo

12 comments:

  1. I was teaching at a university in Savannah, GA, giving three exams back to back starting at 8 am. In between class changes the students were talking about what happened and the crazy rumors that didn't happen (like the Capital being blown up). Everyone was sent home at 2 pm. What a strange, awful day.

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    1. It must have been awful for you not being able to watch what was happening. I can't imagine students taking exams while that tragedy was happening.

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  2. I like how we did come together as a country and donate blood, money and time for the people who were lost, hurting, dead...We did come so far from that time and yet, it still resonates with me, too.

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  3. I remember that, too. It was the 1st (and probably the last) time Congress united. I still remembering them on the Capitol steps singing--God Bless America? Or the national anthem?

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  4. I'm from Jamaica and still remember where I was a teen when 9/11 happened. My friend called me at home and told me to turn on the TV. She knew someone who worked in one of the towers but somehow was late for work and escaped the tragedy.

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    1. We don't think about people in other parts of the world being affected by 9-11. I guess we were so concerned with what was happening here. How fortunate for your friend's friend who was late to work that day.

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  5. I'm in the UK. I had just left work, mid afternoon, and popped into the shops on my way home. I heard snatches of conversation about planes, and one of the shops had a radio but it was too low for me to catch much. I asked what had happened and was told a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in the U.S. When I got home (several hours later as I had to travel to where I kept my two horses in order to feed and tend to them) I turned on the TV immediately and couldn't believe the evil that had been perpetrated that day. The stories of the bravery and solidarity amid the devastation and tragedy is something that remain with me to this day.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that, Lyn. Evil is right. The courage of those first responders (official and volunteers) is still amazing. Because of them, many survived. Tragically, many of them died while saving others.

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  6. I'm late to the post, but wanted to comment. Well said, Diane. Yes, all of us who are old enough will never forget the moment we heard the horrific news. I was asleep, actually, because I was working nights at GM. My sister woke me up and told me to turn on the tv. I watched in horror. I vividly recall at first thinking it was simply an airplane accident, then learning the awful, tragic truth, then seeing the second plane go into the buildings, hearing about Flight 93, the Pentagon. I believe all of us are forever altered because of this, but the unity of the country was a comforting sight.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Alicia. Isn't it too bad that we only unite when there's a tragedy?

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  7. I was getting a late start to my day, still in my pajamas after having breakfast, when my neighbor called and asked if I was watching the news. I wasn't. She told me to turn on the TV, that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers in New York. I watched in horror when the second plane crashed into the second tower. That proved the first crash was not an accident. I wept all day long and never got out of my pajamas. That evening, I spoke to my elder son by phone and we spoke about the attack. I was chilled to the bone and unable to sleep that night after he told me that he had been in Manhattan on business the previous morning--on September 10th. His meeting was held in one of the twin towers, and he flew home that afternoon. There but for the grace of God...

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    1. Your comment gave me chills, Jolana. The grace of God indeed.

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