Where I was on 9/11


Based on an essay of the same title, originally published September 11, 2011

I thought it was an accident. When my high school principal announced over the PA system that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. I distinctly remember hearing someone in the back of the class mutter, “terrorism.”

I was taking a quiz in my third period geometry class fifteen years ago. I was 15 years old, and a sophomore in high school.

I’ve changed a lot over these last fifteen years; we’ve all changed a lot over these last ten years.

Later during that third period math class, the principal again announced a second plane had hit a second tower, erasing any doubt that this was accidental. And I still remember what I did the rest of that day.

I hadn’t seen a television on 9/11 when I found out that the towers had fallen. When I heard about it, it didn’t seem possible, at least not to me.

Fourth period: chemistry, where we found out that the towers had collapsed. Our teacher turned on a television and we could see the horrors unfolding. It was beyond my comprehension. The chaos of that morning, for younger people, I think is hard to appreciate. We know the results of that day. In hearing the towers had been hit and that there were still other planes, it was something we had never seen before.

Fifth period was my lunch. Other information had trickled in. Rumors and speculation ran strong. Sixth period was journalism. Along with several other classes, our teachers led us to the school library where we continued to watch the news coverage. By this point, both towers had collapsed and we saw the chaos in Manhattan as the debris cloud enveloped the Trade Center Plaza. If the world were ending, I assume it would look a bit like that scene from New York.

We still had football practice that day. I still remember it was for a game against Worthington Kilbourne. After football practice, we heard planes in the distance. They were military.

I was afraid on that day. It seemed like nothing would ever be normal again. The day was like a movie, but it seemed as if the bad guys had won.

Ordinary people, thousands of them: boarding flights for work and vacations; sitting in their offices; responding to the first tower after it had been hit, oblivious to the horrors which were to come, and thousands of them were gone.

Just. Gone.

America rebounded. People who can’t agree on much of anything banded together and life went on. But my fear that life would never be the same has come true in many ways. America is not and will not ever be the same as she was before 9/11. 8:46 AM that morning split time for this country. Everything we speak of happened before or after the attack.

In my tenth grade geometry class, as the principal announced that the World Trade Center had been struck, a young man in my math class first heard of the attack at the same time as me. I would later find out that September 11 was a seminal event in his decision to join the army. Shortly before Christmas in 2006, that fine young man lost his life for the cause of defending America and freedom. It would be impossible for me to think back to 9/11 without thinking of him. As I think of him in my recollections, it is difficult for me not to be fatalistic.

I don’t know if I think about September 11 every day, but I think of it often. When there’s a spectacularly gorgeous, late summer day, the spirit of September 11 is never far away.



Photo: Julian Menichini. It was taken on September 5, 2001. This photo is not the property of joshbenner.org, and the owner of the copyright on this photo does not endorse this blog. For more information, please click on the photograph.

Orignial source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jul/104836691/in/photostream/