In Remembrance: My September 11th

September 11, 2001

...played with your heart, got lost in the game. Oh baby, baby. Oops, you think I'm in love. That I'm sent from above. I'm not that innocent...

I rolled over onto my side and separated my eyelashes to see the sun filtering on the beige wall of the dorm room I'd slept in for just under three weeks of my freshman year of college. I lazily crawled my fingers up over my head and tried to find the button on my radio alarm to silence Britney. Nope, nope, still nope, there. Off. The first alarm signaled that I had an hour left before my first class, History of something. I liked the teacher. He was a big barrel chested Italian guy with thick black curls and meaty hands who after what I could only imagine were years of teaching, still excitedly spoke as if the days history lesson was actually happening right now.

Somewhere behind my eyelids that had not surprisingly managed to close back up again, I heard the next crackle of my second alarm. When I'd gotten my new tv for my dorm, I'd realized that you could program it to come on or turn off like an alarm clock, and I'd done so about a week into school with great results. I was too much of a fan of ignoring the radio alarm, but the TV required me to actually get up to turn it off because I purposefully kept the remote on my desk. I'd lucked into having no roommate in a large corner room, so there was no one to remind me to get to class or even to just tell me to shut off all the noise so they could sleep.

My feet finally touched down on the ugly orange and yellow thin striped carpet that I'm pretty sure hadn't been changed since the late 70s. I did my obligatory stretching and cracking of my body back into place and then padded over to the microwave to start my college breakfast of champions, two strawberry Pop Tarts from the package I'd purchased from the commissary. I knew there would never be a point in my entire college career where I'd be functional enough this early to get dressed, go down three flights of stairs or grab the elevator, actually go get food from the cafeteria, wait in line, pay for it, and then sit and eat it before classes. Pop Tarts it was.

I was still half asleep and hadn't been paying attention to the tv, which for some reason had the volume low as opposed to the loud level I usually cranked it up to before bed. I took a quick glance at it. There was a lot of smoke or something billowing from some city somewhere and my thought was quite literally an annoyed, "why do those other countries have to fight all the time?" I walked back to the bunk bed and laid back down until my third alarm of the day went off with a prolonged BEEEEEP! I wiped my eyes, and rolled back up and then focused my attention square on the tv.

It took me a couple of long seconds to realize that this wasn't "some other country." The buildings, the skyline, an unfamiliar cloud of smoke...BOOM! there was a larger cloud of smoke and fire that ballooned out of the skyscraper. I felt my heart skip a beat. The reporters let out gasps, and some, oh my God's. I was awake now. I was really and truly awake now. The radio alarm came on again, but this time it was a set of the same panicky voices as the ones I was watching on television.

I remember darting up to the window on instinct. I looked outside of it at the perfect day before me, and grabbed the phone and shakily dialed my brother. The phone rung and rung and no one picked up. I didn't know what kind of message to leave because I didn't really know what all was happening, but I hung up and dialed my parents number. Pick up, pick up, God, please pick up. My mom answered. We both frantically spoke about what we were seeing. Mom, I don't know, I just woke up and they are saying there were fires in the buildings, but then, they think they were planes! This is crazy! My mom tried reassure me, but she was scared too. Keep your cell phone on you and have it on, she said deftly, and we hung up with that.

I've never really had a moment in my life where I had no clue of what to do or where to go or been in a true daze like I was in that moment. I've also never felt so alone, even to this day, as I was in that moment. Suddenly the no roommate thing was the worst situation I could ever be in because there was no one to talk to, to cry with, to yell with, to panic with. It was just me. I stuck my head outside of my dorm room, and peered down the long hall. Silence. I couldn't hear any of the other 32 girls on my floor doing anything. I went to the bathroom down the hall to see if anyone was in there, and it was silent. I slowly walked back down the hall to my room hoping to hear voices of someone maybe waking up too and watching it, but it was quiet. It was just too damn quiet.

I couldn't stay in my dorms anymore and no one was saying or doing anything, so I packed up my stuff and started walking to class, but really to just find someone, anyone that I knew to talk to about what was happening. As I began to walk down the stairs and onto the path, it was this surreal moment. Everyone was normal. No one was talking about it at all. This was mind you, the era before internet on cell phones, so there were no instant alerts or updates people could see. Nope, everyone was just yammering on about this or that test or this or that teacher and some cute guy they saw at the quad. I wanted to scream! It was the Twilight Zone. How could I be the only one who knew about the horror on tv?!?

I went to class and the Italian Hulk started his history lesson as usual. Didn't even skip a beat. No one said anything. No one mentioned what I'd just seen. I thought I was going crazy, literally crazy, or maybe I was in a dream, but everything was so real. I pinched myself. They say to do that to wake yourself up, but I was still there, and my arm hurt. Class ended, and I plodded back to my dorm room and flipped the tv back on. Smoke and ash were everywhere. They were playing the scenes over and over. Two planes. Horror. People were walking and screaming and running cell phones in hand. More and more details poured out and we knew, though unconfirmed now, that it was terrorism. The word came down that all classes had been officially cancelled. I called my boyfriend, and his roommate answered. I asked him if it was cool to come over, and he welcomed me. My best friend, who'd finally made it to campus only to have classes cancelled, came with me.

The four of us watched as terrified people waved articles of clothing out of their high floor window offices begging for someone to help them. Bodies began to fall from the buildings and the reporters were saying they were no longer going to show close ups of the buildings for that reason. And then, the buildings began to topple. Another plane went down in a field. Another hit the Pentagon. It was just so much going on. I had just gotten to a point where I wasn't afraid to go to school anymore after the first really well known school shootings in a while by students had happened, and now I felt that same fear all over again. The mass evacuations started in the city. No one knew if it was going to be just New York or Washington or everywhere. Both my aunt's worked for well known powerful companies and they'd been told first to evacuate, then to come back, but both had just grabbed their stuff and left ignoring the call to come back out of sheer fear. No one knew what or if they would be next.

To this day, every time I talk about it or write about it, it still makes me tear up. It makes me really think about family and friends. Ironically, I lived in a set of twin towers at the time, and for a long time every time I would see an airplane flying near, it would freak me out and I had a very hard time sleeping for a while thinking about all of these ordinary people who woke up, put their shoes on, maybe had a pop tart like me, and then went to work and a few hours later they were jumping from buildings, and being burned alive, or crushed to death because a set of ruthless strangers half way across the world decided that they should have to die that day. I think about all the heroes and how many people went back in or lent a hand, or later on gave so much needed emotional support to the survivors and the families who lost so many that day.

Somebody asked, all these years later, do people still care or remember this day, and the answer is yes. I don't think you can forget something like this. It's in the back of my mind, and when something like this happens in Paris, Florida, Boston, in various parts of Africa and India, and around the world, it brings me right back to that day and reminds you every single day of your life that you can't take it for granted and that we have really got to work on for ourselves, pushing for friendship and understanding for those that are not like us, so that we do not get to a point where we can't see people as people with families and friends just like us.

My heart and my respect goes out to all the survivors, the families left without their loved ones, to the heroes that often times gave their lives to help perfect strangers, and for all those that continue to choose to live their lives in love and friendship.


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What Guys Said 11

  • 2mo

    amazing!

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  • 2mo

    I was working when my boss got a phone call "Something serious happened in NYC." I surfed to Yahoo News and everyone in the office came looking over my shoulder as the images were posted.

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    • 2mo

      I gather nothing could have prepared you for what you and your co-workers saw. I remember walking back from the dorms and running into a friend and I was telling him about the attacks and he thought I was making it up. I was like, okay, why would I make "this up." Like what on earth would I have to gain from making something so horrific up? There was just so much disbelief. I mean to this day, if you described it, it sounds impossible.

    • 2mo

      We all had seen the images of the Vietnam war and older images of WW1 and WW2 and Korea and the colonial wars. Thus we weren't exactly unsed to seeing the results of bombings:

      View of Rotterdam after German bombing during the Western Campaign in May 1940. (Rotterdam, the Netherlands, May 1940.):
      www.ushmm.org/lcmedia/photo/lc/image/51/51422.jpg

      Napalm bombing of village near Hanchon, North Korea, 10 May 1951. Use of napalm on villages later became infamous in Vietnam, but much more was dumped on Korea:
      www.internationalist.org/...mbinghanchon510510.jpg

      Our own country had been bombed by Germany during WW2( which killed my two granddads.) Many people my age experienced that.

  • 2mo

    I came into school the next day and our teacher talked to us about what happened. Like: I imagine youve all seen the news of what happened in New York, it was very shicking and scary..., and we spent the whole class talking about it. But, I didn't have a TV at home my mom and dad were against it, so I had noooo idea what had happened. I zoned out and stared out the window. Life went on, I learned what had happened a year later or so.

    Poor people and their loved ones. Innocents dieing like this is always a shock and a horrible thing. I've always been far away from events like these.
    Even with family living in places that have been attacked, I've never been too worried about them because I know their habits and style and they didn't didn't match up with the places being attacked.
    Except with the Paris attacks, the concert hall that was shot up is the kind of event my brother woukd attend and he goes out all the time, so I was pretty worried when I saw what style of music it was.
    Luckily he had work and didn't go out that night.
    I was abroad, but luckily, for once, he answered his email fast to let me know he was ok, and so did all of my other family members.

    I've been blessed and sheltered from harm both personally and in terms with having to deal with bad things happening to my friends or family. Im thankful for that.

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  • 2mo

    it sure was a very sad day and I hope within the remaining portion of my life I will never see this again.

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  • 2mo

    I remember it like it was yesterday...

    oh wait, no I don't.

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  • 2mo

    September 1, 1939
    W. H. Auden, 1907 - 1973

    I sit in one of the dives
    On Fifty-second Street
    Uncertain and afraid
    As the clever hopes expire
    Of a low dishonest decade:
    Waves of anger and fear
    Circulate over the bright
    And darkened lands of the earth,
    Obsessing our private lives;
    The unmentionable odour of death
    Offends the September night.

    Accurate scholarship can
    Unearth the whole offence
    From Luther until now
    That has driven a culture mad,
    Find what occurred at Linz,
    What huge imago made
    A psychopathic god:
    I and the public know
    What all schoolchildren learn,
    Those to whom evil is done
    Do evil in return.

    Exiled Thucydides knew
    All that a speech can say
    About Democracy,
    And what dictators do,
    The elderly rubbish they talk
    To an apathetic grave;
    Analysed all in his book,
    The enlightenment driven away,
    The habit-forming pain,
    Mismanagement and grief:
    We must suffer them all again.

    Into this neutral air
    Where blind skyscrapers use
    Their full height to proclaim
    The strength of Collective Man,
    Each language pours its vain
    Competitive excuse:
    But who can live for long
    In an euphoric dream;
    Out of the mirror they stare,
    Imperialism’s face
    And the international wrong.

    Faces along the bar
    Cling to their average day:
    The lights must never go out,
    The music must always play,
    All the conventions conspire
    To make this fort assume
    The furniture of home;
    Lest we should see where we are,
    Lost in a haunted wood,
    Children afraid of the night
    Who have never been happy or good.

    The windiest militant trash
    Important Persons shout
    Is not so crude as our wish:
    What mad Nijinsky wrote
    About Diaghilev
    Is true of the normal heart;
    For the error bred in the bone
    Of each woman and each man
    Craves what it cannot have,
    Not universal love
    But to be loved alone.

    From the conservative dark
    Into the ethical life
    The dense commuters come,
    Repeating their morning vow;
    “I will be true to the wife,
    I’ll concentrate more on my work,"
    And helpless governors wake
    To resume their compulsory game:
    Who can release them now,
    Who can reach the deaf,
    Who can speak for the dumb?

    All I have is a voice
    To undo the folded lie,
    The romantic lie in the brain
    Of the sensual man-in-the-street
    And the lie of Authority
    Whose buildings grope the sky:
    There is no such thing as the State
    And no one exists alone;
    Hunger allows no choice
    To the citizen or the police;
    We must love one another or die.

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    • 2mo

      Defenceless under the night
      Our world in stupor lies;
      Yet, dotted everywhere,
      Ironic points of light
      Flash out wherever the Just
      Exchange their messages:
      May I, composed like them
      Of Eros and of dust,
      Beleaguered by the same
      Negation and despair,
      Show an affirming flame.

  • 2mo

    It's a little hard to believe that that was 15 years ago. I can remember that day like it was yesterday. Scared the crap out of a 11 year old

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    • 2mo

      It's our generations Kennedy or MLK assassinations except on this insane level that no one could ever imagine happening, but at least for me, it helps to talk about it and keep the victims in our hearts and minds b/c they really and truly could have been any one of us.

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    • 2mo

      But I get where you're coming from

    • 2mo

      I'm typing this while sitting in front of a laptop with it's web cam taped up. Our privacy is long dead.

  • 2mo

    I was in my 8th grade home room, our teacher allowed us to watch tv before 1st period and it was on the news when they said just in and cut to the scene of the first building collapsing, saw all three go down, also saw people jumping from the buildings, my friend shea, her brother was in the pentagon at the time when it hit the pentagon, she didn't hear from her brother until near the end of the school day, the entire time she thought he was dead but was lucky enough to have been on the oppsite side of the building where it was hit

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    • 2mo

      I struggled with it as an 18 year old... I can't imagine being in the 8th grade and seeing all of it happen. I'm surprised they let you continue to watch even with bodies falling, but I guess everyone was just in so much shock. Also extremely frightening for your friend dealing with the possible death of her brother. I'm so glad that he's still here. Such a helpless feeling... the not knowing.

    • 2mo

      Yeah, she was wrecked for the whole day, teachers asked if she wanted to go home but she said she wanted to stay so she wouldn't focus on it too much otherwise id drice her crazy, i think the reason they allowed us to watch it was partly because they wanted to know everything that was happening themselves

  • 2mo

    I was just three, so I don't remember any of it. Probably for the best anyways

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  • 2mo

    Jet fuel doesn't melt steel beams @BeeNee

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    • 2mo

      Steel beams don't need to melt to become weak.

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    • 2mo

      @Thisperson98 oh look, it's a architect here to tell me all about infrastructure and what not. He's totally not just saying general statements that have no real scientific data to prove his point and pulling shit out of his ass like Houdini.
      100% legit information right here people. Next Nostradamus for sure. Nobel prize winner.

    • 2mo

      @Regulatus well it occurred at the weakest point of the bridge, no duhh. The top of a building isn't what holds the building up. Do you have any basic understanding of how constructing monuments, buildings, etc. work?

  • 2mo

    It touched the world we were transfixed in Ireland, I can only imagine what the US was like - In a weird way it touched us, at that time there was so many Irish people in New York and everyone knew a person there, a city of what 10 million but your logic goes out the window. I remember the phones were down for hours only fuelling the panic. I was at home getting my house rewired, it was lunch time, me and the two electricians just stopped to watch TV. I was told by people that workplaces just stopped and watched the nearest TV too.

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    • 2mo

      It was a lot like what you describe after more people woke up; they would hear it from someone else, and on down the line, and then it was all we watched non-stop for days, if not weeks after. No one knew what to do or say. Now in this day an age, we're all sort of freakishly prepared for this 'new normal' in the sense that we know this stuff happens or can happen, which is so incredibly sad. I can't imagine being half way around the world and knowing you have family/friends in New York and not being able to reach them, or them you.

What Girls Said 3

  • 2mo

    I was just about to turn 6 years old and in kindergarten, and although I didn't understand much at the time, thinking about it now gives me chills. My teacher was called out, and then ran into the classroom crying, then muttering something to the para that was always in there, who also started crying. All of us kids were asking what was wrong, and no one would tell us exactly. School was let out and, being as young as I was and having no idea what was going on, I thought it was because my teacher was having a bad day and unable to teach because of it. I remember everyone old enough to understand and who was aware of what was going on being really frantic, and me being really confused because of it. Nobody would really tell me much because I was so young and I think they didn't want to upset me. I remember very shortly after that, my dad and I watched the news, where they played a tribute video with pictures of the victims, and the one I remember in particular that even touched me then was a picture of a father and daughter together. 9/11 is a pretty distant memory considering I was fairly young (most of the details I had forgotten about for years until I started to think about that day), but it's still something that was scary and that I'll never forget. I actually got chills up my spine just thinking about it, how I had no clue what was happening, how eery everything was, and how terrifying it must have been for the people old enough to grasp it. I couldn't imagine being college age and experiencing that.

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  • 2mo

    9/11/01 was my 5th birthday so I remember it but didn't really understand it until I was older. Sorta ruined my birthday.

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    • 2mo

      ugh, that totally sucks. 9/11 was also my bosses birthday. She told me the day it happened was of course awful with everyone dealing with it all, but the subsequent years, she said people would just look at her with sadness every time she mentioned her birth date.

  • 2mo

    In the third semester of medical school. I was around 9-years-old.

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