The Day That Changed the World
Sep 11, 2011
We all know I work in news which allows me access to content from a myriad of sources among them two video servers from ABC and CNN. For about two weeks each of these servers contained a tab with the label "9/11 Anniversary." I've spent so much time looking through these, seeing new pieces I've never seen before, and witnessing how people are still affected by, and teaching the lessons America learned that day.
I've watched stories of teachers struggling with how to teach this generation, who has never known a world any different; I've watched stories of kids who all lost parents that day; I've watched widows and widowers weep in memory of their lost loves; I've cried.; I've watched so much. Ten years later and it still affects me the same way.
I've written before about my own September 11th experience, but on this monumental anniversary it felt right to share it again.
I was sitting in English class during the second week of my sophomore year of high school. My teacher had just instructed us to begin a freewrite about things we wanted to accomplish that year. I attempted to focus on the assignment; that's when another of the English teachers barreled into the room. Mr. Speicher had a tremendously horrified look on his face. He half yelled, half trailed off as he said, "We're being bombed. They've bombed America. They've bombed the World Trade Center." He stumbled to the front of the room and turned on the TV.
There, on the screen, was a still shot of the top of the World Trade Centers. Peter Jennings' voice flooded the room as we sat locked, watching in horror as the second plane hit the south tower. I remember seeing people jumping out of the building. We watched as the towers, one after another, buckled and collapsed.
I was terrified; my world of happiness, harmony, and hope for the future was greatly disturbed. The bell rang at the end of that period and people flooded somberly into the hallways desperately looking for their friends -- all too anxious for some semblance of comfort or normalcy. My best friend Holly and I stared at each other in disbelief. We hugged as tears began running down our faces. I remember praying so hard that no one I knew was on either of those planes. That everything would be okay.
The teachers left the TVs on for most of the day. We quickly learned another plane had careened into the fields of Pennsylvania -- overtaken by so many courageous men and women; unwilling to let it hurt and kill thousands. And yet another had destroyed lives and safety at the Pentagon. It was heartbreaking to learn that the planes that hit the towers left from Logan airport Our airport. The one my dad routinely flew out of.
I remember kids getting excused to learn that their family members were part of this terrible tragedy. At the end of the day parents rushed to pick up their children. They, too, needed that moment of normalcy and comfort; that life was at least some bit of what it was before 9 am.
I walked outside to find my mom waiting for me; looking so distraught. I asked how my dad was. "He's safe. Worried they won't let him home for a few days, though." He was on a business trip in some European country; and because my dad is a British citizen he was worried it would be some time before they would allow him to travel back home to his family. My mom and I sat in silence, headed to pick up my brothers. I think we were thinking the same thing; my dad flew frequently, and every flight he took to Australia was on American flight 111. The same flight that hit tower one.
Our eyes, minds, hearts were all glued to the destruction, the remnants, the horror left in Lower Manhattan, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. The hours stretched into days, and the horror continued. We learned people we loved were affected. They lost loved ones in the horror. In the terror.
Days stretched into weeks; weeks to months; months to years. And now, here we are. Ten years later and it still makes me sick thinking of the utter fear I felt then. I wonder if this is what survivors of December 7th, 1941 feel like. That it quickly became a date, an event for the history books, instead of a reality that destroyed the lives of people we pass on the street. Of people who have homes and lives and families and safety all compromised in this event.
I will never believe this only affected New Yorkers. I will never believe it affected just East Coasters, or Northerners. It was that day that affected Americans.
I'm so grateful for my freedom. For the men and women who fight daily to protect it. And for those who gave their lives, or lost their lives on that day victims of anger and hatred from someone they don't even know.
God Bless America.
We sure need it.
Here are some of my favorite posts I've read and felt I should share:
Natalie, Noelle, Naomi, Megan, and Krysten.
(I'll likely add more as I read more.)