Remembering September 11

The tenth anniversary of September 11 is right around the corner.  Somehow, it seems like forever ago and just last week, all at the same time.  I have to say that I have an entirely different perspective on the event at this point than I did when it actually happened.

The morning of September 11, 2001, I was seventeen, in my senior year of high school.  I was in biology lab, and I vividly remember that I was dissecting a fetal pig, because it was disgusting.  One of my classmates raced in, yelling that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and something about fires on the National Mall and that they were pretty sure the world was ending.  My reaction was pretty much a frightened and confused “huh?” but then it was time to change classes, and I went to English class, and there the teacher turned on the TV.  He turned it on just a few minutes before the second tower fell.

Dead silence in the room.  We were all scared.  It was hard to believe that something so unbelievably catastrophic could be happening less than two hours away from where we sat.

All day, we watched news coverage, and then I went home and watched some more.  For me, it was the first time in my young adult life that I could tell that no one in authority really knew what to do or say.  The newscasters seemed bewildered.  My parents seemed stunned.  Everyone seemed afraid.  My mom hesitantly told me that I should stop watching it, but then she sat down and watched it with me.  No one knew what to do and to a kid, who is used to following and obeying, that is a really scary and unsettling thing to realize.

That day, I was a kid.  On this tenth anniversary of that day, I have a kid.  I live in a completely different world now than I did then.  (Although I guess, in a way, we all do.)

What would I say to her, if this happened again, and she was the one who was seventeen?  If it happened while she was preparing to leave home for the first time in her life to go to college several states away, like I did?  It’s a terrifying thing, when it dawns on you that something so terrible has happened that your parents cannot protect you and in fact, they are terrified themselves.  How do you explain to a kid the concept of evil?

I have no idea.  And I hope that I never have to figure it out.

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  1. by Gianni

    On September 6, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    I was a freshman also in Biology class. My teacher came in and calmly explained to us that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers. Immediately parents were taking their kids out of school. My teachers tried to keep us calm but we were just in complete shock. I went home and turned on the news and called a friend from middle school (why I’ll never know).

    To this day I tear up whenever I see something on TV about 9/11. I don’t if I could watch any of the memorial shows. I didn’t know anyone that passed away but just knowing that so many innocent people died hurts.

  2. by Rachel

    On September 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I was also a senior in high school in Anatomy class when it happened. The teachers just told us that there was an accident in NY. The principal instructed the teachers to not turn on any televisions. When I went to my next class (History or Government or whatever) she allowed us to hop on the internet and find out what happened. Even though cellphones weren’t allowed to be on in school, everyone was on the phone wtih family. Now 10 years later, I also have a child (my first who is 5 1/2 months old) and I don’t know what I would do or say to my child about something like that happening. I just know I would react way differently now that I have someone I am responsible for. It’s amazing how different we become in a decade and after having kids.

  3. by Nicole

    On September 10, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    I, too, was a senior in high school. The first plane had already hit before the principal came over the intercom and told us what happened. My math teacher flipped on the tv and we watched in horror as the second plane smashed into Tower Two. No one moved-then everyone started freaking out. I went to my moms work and stayed there.

    I miscarried twice in 2006, so I don’t have to explain 9/11 to anyone yet. I dread the day I do.

  4. by Erinn

    On September 14, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    How’s this for irony – I was in Modern History class. The teacher (I forget his name momentarily) turned on the TV and said very simply that he was not teaching today – Instead we were going to watch history happen. And watch we did.