Sunday, September 11, 2011


I’ve found it hared to be productive today with the 10-year anniversary of September 11th. On TV there have been many documentaries and specials memorializing the event, telling the stories of the victims and the heroes. I, like every other person over the age of 20, remember exactly where I was when it happened. I was a senior in college (my second senior year, ha) living with my three guy roommates across from the engineering campus. We were up getting ready for our morning classes and I remember it was a Tuesday because that was the day of the week we could sleep in till 9am (our teachers were all about the early crack of dawn classes…their reasoning was that the contractors started at 7am, so we should as well). My old roommate Melanie (who had graduated the previous year and moved down to Texas for her PhD) called and told us to turn on the TV with no explanation. The first tower had already been struck, and we stood shocked in the living room. I don’t remember how long I stood there watching the TV, or when I folded into the couch with the rest of the guys. I was just glad I was stilling down when I watched the second tower get hit on live TV. I remember Diane Sawyer talking to someone and then the camera cut to a live feed of tower 1. Seconds later, the plane entered the screen. There was zero conversation except for the occasional “oh my god”. I think Diane even was stunned into silence. I am sure many people thought the first one was a fluke…a pilot error or freak gust of wind. Seeing the second, it dawned on us this was intentional. We watched and watched, eating up every breaking story, every hint of speculation. When the towers fell one after the other, I didn’t think it was possible. Being an engineer, I know we put a shit load of safety factors into a structural design. It was just unreal.

Before too long, I blinked (for the first time in an hour it seemed like) and realized I was minutes away from my first class. Most of the departmental classes have mandatory attendance. Being an upperclassmen (and busybody overachiever) I knew the value of each class, and made the two block walk over to Seaton Hall. I think only four of fifteen of us showed (the other three were way off campus commuters that likely were in their way over long before all of this happened). Our professor walked in, shook his head and said “class is cancelled” before turning right around and heading out. I stopped by the student union across the street because they had several TV’s and possibly more information on what the hell had happened. The lounge was packed ten deep with everyone glued to the TV.

Several years later, I moved to NYC. I visited the site of “ground zero” several times, both with visiting friends/family and on my own. The spot is huge. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be there on that day. By the time I lived there, 9/11 was something of the past. However, every once in a while, 9/11 would be mentioned causally in conversation…like a blip that would pass before you realized what was said. The real New Yorkers would always pause and get a look in their eyes. I can’t tell you what it was…sadness, remembering, anger, etc. Like a breath, their quiet moment would pass quickly and I doubt they even realized it happened. I feel grateful for noticing…my private 9/11 moment.


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