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There are times in our lives where no matter how far away an event is, it still remains fresh in our minds. Some will talk about the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, their date of their wedding and a multitude of other personally historic days that just etch in our minds.
But those are much more personal. It is something you can’t fully describe to people because its more “well, you had to be there” and hell, sometimes you can’t fully grasp that powerful moment and what it fully means.
Today though, we are all united in something very similar and a tragedy is what brings us together. Being from the Northeast (New Jersey), I still felt the impact at ten years old even though I wasn’t directly affected by the initial event. Over time however, it did wear on me.
Everyone talks about where they were that day. Well, I was at home as I was sick that day and my Mother thought it would be a good idea to not go to school. I remember waking up and walking down the stairs and saw my Mom watching TV (this had to be around 9am) from a very close distance. I saw a building full of smoke and when I asked my Mom what she was watching, she responded with a quick “oh, nothing.” and told me to watch some TV in the backroom.
Well, I immediately turned on ESPN and noticed that it was ABC News and Linda Cohn was telling me that coverage would be halted today and games were cancelled as a result of the tragedy.
After the initial news breaking to me, I didn’t know what happened next. All I remember from that day is Peter Jennings talking on ABC News about someone being discovered in the rubble. I think I vaguely remember Aaron Brown on CNN too though I’m not sure if it was from that day or via recap.
9/11 shook me a bit later in life. When you are ten, even though you have a firmer grasp on the world than you did at five; you still believe that the world is good. You may believe in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy even and your parents are still able to solve nearly every problem whether big or small.
But how do you explain terrorism to children? How do you explain Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, war and a largely unknown enemy? How do you explain death and those who decided to jump instead of suffocate?
Well, I think I got my answers in due time but being from a politically aware family; I probably watched a bit too much TV for my own good in the months following. I panicked when Osama bin Laden released a new video, I feared that we would enter more wars and that I would eventually get drafted into the military. So much that I always told my family about my fears and they reassured me that 13 year old boys aren’t really the first people to enter the military.
Nonetheless, I realized now that I’m graduating college soon that the freshmen here may not even remember 9/11 at all. That means that most of their active memory is filled with botched wars and constant threats.
I’ve always considered myself pro-military because I’m envious of those who had no fear and took the ultimate risk. Life and death stuff. I’m about as anti-war as I can get though because why should I bang the drumbeats of war when I’m too scared to go into battle myself?
I can never tell you how I felt that day though because it was probably a mixture of just youthful apathy and youthful fear. I always do my best to catch the replay of the live coverage of it, not out of a sick pleasure but because I need to see it again to relive those feelings. It never fails either. The years that followed where we never quite knew what was going on is what always sticks in my mind.
On 9/11/2001, fear became reality. Terror became present. Hypotheticals happened in real-time.
To those who have lost loved ones, I offer my condolences and my remembrances. I hate that is all I can do. You didn’t deserve this, neither did they and I wish there was something I could say to make it better.
To those who have served, thank you. You didn’t and shouldn’t have had to make the ultimate sacrifice.
But as another year passes, I just hope you stop and think. The world is a small place and events like this pass by and really shrinks your perception of reality.