A ninth anniversary

by subterfusex

from stephenrahn.com

It is hard to believe that the horrific attacks on September 11th, 2o01 took place nine years ago. It seems cliche to say that we remember it as if it happened yesterday, yet that is the truth.

It’s our generation’s JFK assassination moment — we all know where we were when it happened, and what we were doing. We remember the deaths and the frantic calls to friends and family and the sudden need to watch the television day in and day out, looking for something in the permanently pressed images in our heads of the destroyed towers, the plumes of smoke, the heroic firefighters in neon yellow suits.

We at Subterfuge would like to ask you your stories.

Where were you on the eleventh of September? How has it changed the way you think of the news — the world — politics — or anything else?

Let us know in the comments.

2 Comments to “A ninth anniversary”

  1. It was our second week of school. I had signed up for Photography, but now that I was actually in the class, I had a sudden and deep-rooted realization that this was not the class for me. I made time to talk to my guidance counselor about a switch, and the appointment happened to be early on the morning of September 11th.

    As I was explaining that I did not want to stay in Photography (the cost, the chemicals…) someone knocked on the counselor’s door. They had one of those, ‘Come here,’ ‘I’m in a meeting,’ ‘This is IMPORTANT’ exchanges, all well above my head. Then they left me there, I presumed to talk something over.

    I waited there for a very long time. I began to wonder if I should come back later. Hell, the bell was going for the next class, which I had to get to. My counselor returned, poker-faced, and got me back out the door with the paperwork I needed.

    It took me months, if not years, to put two and two back together, that I had been in the office when the terrible event occurred, and that no one had said a word to me.

    By midday the rumor mill was turning. I didn’t pay much attention, because the school was full of idiots. I had perfected the art of tuning them out. When I got to Latin, I was in close proximity with several idiots. They were talking about the rumors (this was before smart phones, remember, so no one could hop online to check it out) but they didn’t sound too upset. More curious, perhaps even energized. The full weight of it had not yet come down on us. Our teacher spoke with us about it. He didn’t know much either, but he let us get the rumors out of the way so we could have a class.

    The next class was worse. F and I took our seats in the social studies room (F, if any of this does not gel with your memory, do plz pipe up, I could be wrong). The vice principal came in to talk to us. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but he confirmed that towers had been hit. He said that if anyone had family in New York, or needed to speak with someone, to come down to the office. We lived on a major commuter line, so this was a distinct possibility. In fact, F got up and just about ran from the room — her father worked in midtown.

    I tried to sit through what was left of the class, but it kept niggling at me. I couldn’t focus. Really, I needed to talk to my mom. We did have a family friend in New York, someone who bounces around the city on freelance jobs, so she could have been anywhere at the time. I left and got permission to use a phone in the guidance office. I didn’t know our friend’s number, so I called my mother. She hadn’t heard from our friend, all the lines were busy, but it was highly unlikely she was involved. That calmed me down a bit, but not much.

    They kept us in school the whole day. it wasn’t until I got home that I saw the news. My parents had had all day to think about and talk over what was happening as it happened. For me, it was fresh. I didn’t want to go to school the next day. “If you don’t go, they’ll think you have someone involved in it,” my mother told me. I went.

    And wished every moment that I hadn’t. “Lets bomb the hell out of ’em,” was the phrase of the day. Of the next year. One year later, on the first anniversary, another social studies teacher had us talk about it. And the idiots I had to call my peers reiterated it over and over again–lets bomb the hell out of ’em.

    I was too angry to speak, and too upset to say what I wanted to rationally. Besides, what I had to say was not going to be popular. I erred on the side of not inviting their ignorance invectives down upon my own head.

    So, that’s 9/11/01 (and 02) for me.

  2. I was at home and I’d been watching a movie, The 10th Kingdom (long-ass movie it is, too, but a good one). It was over at that point, though, so I had just taken it out and switched the TV back to television mode, and on popped CNN with coverage of the tragedy taking place at the World Trade Center. I remember watching the first tower go down — I don’t know if it was happening in real time or if it was some sort of replay — and my eyes were wide with shock. I wasn’t entirely sure I was believing what I was seeing. The dust, the smoke, the debris, people (including camera crews and reporters) which were too close trying to get to a safe spot.

    My grandparents were in the hospital, because my grandmother had been sick and needed to stay there for a couple of days. I called them immediately to tell them about what was going on and while I was still on the phone with them, I was watching the news coverage. The second tower went down, I relayed that information to my grandfather on the phone with shock and disbelief in my voice, and I remember he said, “oh God…”

    I didn’t realize, perhaps the coverage wasn’t even on that quite yet, that it was a terrorist attack. I had at first thought perhaps it was a terrible accident, but then the second tower? It was almost too much to take in at the same time.

    I remember watching as one reporter and her camera crew ran into a building to escape the dust clouds, and watching the clouds rush by the glass door, more like a flood of water than dust or debris.

    I remember at some point there were reports shortly after, with video coverage, of the people walking out of the debris, out of the dust, covered in that white dust, disoriented, scared, uncertain and lost. Some children were left to cry, wondering where their parents were, what the hell was going on. Others were picked up by total strangers, because without their parents around SOMEone had to help the little children.

    I remember hearing from my friends shortly thereafter, either later that day or the day after that, that school had ended early upon news of the terrorist attack. The world literally had seemed to stop. Everyone was amazed, frightened, worried, confused. Everyone felt pain. Everyone wanted an explanation.

    I remember the television station in my house did not once ever switch away from the news in the days and weeks to follow. We watched as the number of dead climbed higher and higher. We watched as new reports came about what happened. We watched as we were shown video and audio of Osama bin Laden taking responsibility for the terrorist attacks. We listened to why. We listened to threats for the future. We listened to declarations of Jihad. We listened to recounts of people who had family who died in the attacks on the Twin Towers, on the Pentagon, and those who died on Flight 93 in the Pennsylvania field. We listened to recounts of some of the survivors of the World Trade Center attacks. We listened to conspiracy theories. We listened to George W. Bush declare war. We listened to everything, all of it. We didn’t know what to think.

    We, to this day, still do not know whether to believe any of the conspiracy theories. My grandfather himself said that from the footage of the towers going down, it didn’t look like the planes were the only reason. That something more was going on, because of the simple way that they fell. Teachers in subsequent years lent their own reasons for believing in one or more of the other theories.

    Who is right? Was it a conspiracy at all? We’ll probably never know. Today, none of these recollected events have any special order or sequence in my mind. They happen all at once, in rapid succession. But, either way, no matter what sequence they’re in, they will not be forgotten anytime soon. That I can assure you.

    I agree, this was our generation’s JFK assassination.

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