Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Burned In

Today is September 11th. It’s not a holiday, it’s not anyone’s birthday that I know—it should be a normal day. This would have been true if not for what happened one year ago today. That day is still quite clear in my mind, and today feels almost the same as that day. I sit at the same desk behind the same computer at the same school as the day it happened. For all I know, Arlene could come in wondering why CNN and all the news sites are down and then telling me to head up to the teacher’s lounge. Having been there only once before I didn’t know why I should be going up there. I’d know, however, when I’d see most of the faculty that wasn’t teaching class (and even a few who were supposed to be) hovering around a television in the corner of the room. On that screen was an unforgettable image—one of the two trade towers was smoldering and the headlines flashed that a plane had crashed into the side of the building.

I was intrigued. It was a tragedy, of course, and for some inexplicable reason humans are always drawn to destruction. I sat, I watched, and my fear of planes was heavily reinforced. I watched as they found replays of the plane crashing into the side of the tower. I was dumbfounded by it still. As they were showing a live view on the outside of the building and rotating around, all the viewers saw another little something off the side of the screen. The other tower was slightly visible on-camera and you could see as flames came out the side of that building. “Oh my God, another plane has struck the other tower. I repeat, another plane has struck the other tower.” I couldn’t believe my ears as I heard that and saw the images that accompanied it. After a few minutes they found footage of the other plane hitting the second tower. Another tragedy in it’s own right, but combined with the other plane crash it was obvious that something wasn’t right. These weren’t two accidents.

I finally realized that I was still transfixed upon the tv and took note of all the reactions around me and came out of my shocked stupor. The grimaces and looks of wonder on everyone’s faces told the feelings of the entire nation. We were all thinking to ourselves a collective, “What the hell is going on?”

I returned to watching the television, not worrying about going back down and working or getting my homework done. Thoughts kept running through my head, wondering who and why and for what reason and how soon it would be until our nation did something stupid in retaliation, and if they would even retaliate against the right people. What had we done lately to deserve this? Which country did we piss off and how did we do it? I wanted to know what led up to this so I could have some type of justification for the remorse and hate that I felt. The longer I watched, the more blinded by unfounded rage I became. I personally wanted to go and strangle something, kick something, just beat the living shit out of anything. I wanted it to be the people who rammed those planes down our nation’s throats, but they’d already been consumed in their own constructed inferno.

Later, as I sat in front of that television, another plane hit the Pentagon and another crashed off in the woods. Four planes, inordinate amounts of destruction, and we didn’t know as a nation what to do yet or what to think. I, for one, didn’t move from in front of that television until well into the afternoon. I never went to my classes, I didn’t go back to my room, I instead stayed mesmerized in front of that 19” screen.

Who’s to say all of this can’t happen again, on a morning such as today? Or tomorrow? Or next year? These questions will always be in the backs of our minds, thanks to the events of one year ago today. The people who slammed those planes into our twin towers achieved what they wanted—they instilled a small amount of fear in an entire nation. Never before have a few nameless, dead faces made such an impact upon a nation.

I could continue to go on, but I know everyone is probably feeling most of the same emotions as me today anyhow. These attacks did make us a nation again, a unified nation. That the attackers didn’t foresee. I pray that God would watch over and comfort us all—a scarred and healing nation.

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