September 11, 2008

The Timeless Question For Every Generation

Where were you when [insert earth-shattering event here]? You can ask every single generation from the last 1,000 years that and get a story. Where they were when the first Model T was released, when the U.S. entered W.W. II, when John Kennedy was shot, when Robert Kennedy was shot, when the four students were killed at Kent State, when the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall came down, the O.J. Simpson verdict (okay, it's not earth-shattering, but everyone knows where they were and what they were doing when the verdict was read), and most importantly and obviously on a lot of minds today: when the first plane struck the World Trade Center.

I know that my post will just be tossed into the large-by-huge pile of posts regarding 9/11 but I would be remiss and disappointed in myself if I didn't bring it up. I didn't know anybody in the trade centers, the Pentagon, or on Flight 93. I didn't know any firefighters that went to any of the crash sites. I am pretty sure that Flight 93 flew over Slippery Rock and I could possibly attest to having seen that plane over head as I stood on our apartment balcony smoking my 15th morning cigarette. The flight path shows that it flew over western Pennsylvania directly between Lake Erie and Pittsburgh, which is where Slippery Rock - right next to the below-noted Grove City - sits.

I woke up a bit before 9:00 a.m., went out and smoked, came back in and made a bowl of cereal, and sat down to watch some TV. I didn't have class until 1 p.m., so I had plenty of time to relax. I flipped on the TV and someone had left CNN on. I saw a burning skyscraper and from then on, it was kind of a fog. My boyfriend (who, by the by, is now my husband) called me an hour later from California to ask me if I was okay because he'd heard a plane had "gone down near Pittsburgh." If you know Pennsylvania at all, you know that anything in the western half of the state is considered "near Pittsburgh" so he was understandably concerned.

I remember calling my mom to commiserate and then calling the professor who taught the class I was supposed to go to that afternoon, just to confirm we were even holding class. He said we were, but the whole hour and fifteen minutes we were there, we just talked about the tragedies. Given our proximity to NYC, a few people in the class either knew people in the National Guard who'd been called in, knew someone in the trade center, knew a firefighter, or had friends who did. The feeling in the room was very heavy, very uncertain, and very sad.

In the days that followed, I remember talking with my roommates about the outrage we felt, as Americans, being attacked. I remember talking about the possible reenactment of the draft. I remember crying at odd times, thinking about all the families who lost husbands, boyfriends, wives, children, parents...and I think that as the years pass by and I mature just a little more, every anniversary of 9/11 hits a little closer to home. I remember seeing American flags everywhere I went and I thought that was absolutely terrific. I'd never been prouder to be an American.

If you want a good account of how hard 9/11 hit the families directly affected by the tragedy, read Lyz Glick's book. She wrote it for her daughter, Emerson, who was only three months old when her dad, Jeremy Glick, led the charge to take over the hijackers on Flight 93. It's a heartwrenching story and it reveals a side to mourning most don't ever think about. Just read the first few pages.

Anyway, that's where I was. Where were you?


Amanda said...

I was at SRU on my way to class. My roommate and I had been watching Golden Girls on Lifetime instead of anything newsworthy that morning so we didn't hear about it until the girl who lived next door to us mentioned that she heard something about a crash on the radio. I had three classes in a row that day...Public Opinion an d Policy, Comparative Government and Research Methods. All Poly Sci, and all we did was talk about what was going on and watch CNN. Which I continued to watch compulsively for the next few days

diana said...

i was in my first week of my first semester at EUP...i came back from class early to find lisa & army mike glued to cnn in the lounge. i literally walked in as the second plane hit the towers. by the end of the hour, probably 30 of us had gathered in the lounge. it was eerily silent and the channel never changed. i called my mom from my room and cried. i don't think i had ever wanted to be at home with my family so badly as i did at that moment.

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