It was a beautiful Tuesday morning. Not hot, but quite pleasant out. Sunny, a few clouds, and warm. Early in the morning, as a friend asks me how I'm doing, I reply, "It's just like any other Tuesday."
We got to school at the normal time and headed to class. Nothing unusual; though early in the year, I was already familiar with my schedule and headed to my class as if by instinct. We have class as normal, AP Government.
I look up at the clock; it's about a quarter til. I hear the high whistle that accompanies the announcements; something is wrong, the announcements are normally for another fifteen minutes. Even before hearing the principal's voice, I know something is wrong. She gets on and describes what is perceived to be an accident. A plane has hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. It is known that many people have died and that many more will. She asks for a moment of silence. After she finishes, everyone starts wondering what happened, or if it might not be an accident. We turn on the TV in the classroom and get our first chilling scenes, but this period is over and we are told to go to our next class.
As soon as I arrive, I turn on the TV in there; the teacher has not yet arrived. My timing could not have been more precise, the second plane had just hit. This disaster became that much more real; this was no accident, it was terror. My classmates were continuing to come in, as was our teacher. The TV stayed on, and students from other classes came in as well, watching in horror the images on the TV. Many of the girls are crying, the guys trying to keep it together. My initial feelings had been of fear, dread, anxiety. It was pure fury now; someone did more than attack a building, they attacked America, as was evidenced by the hit on the Pentagon and another downed plane. I was livid, but could not lash out, everyone else was hurting too much.
Some people called home, but I was without a cell phone. The period ended and we moved on to lunch. We were urged not to go outside, but to stay inside for lunch. I went out anyway, after borrowing a friend's cell, to call home. They were all fine. After the call, I went back in for lunch. I sat there with my friends, trying not to focus to hard on what was happening; we enjoyed being with each other, but there was a sort of solemnness that was very unfamiliar.
After lunch, we got the news that school was to be let out early; going to school so close to the Pentagon (inside the Beltway in Virginia), there were some security concerns. We left, and the bus ride was much like lunch; active but still solemn. Perhaps it was just the numbness settling in; when I got home, it persisted, and lasted through the next day as well. It would not end until we went back to school on Thursday, but the solemn feeling surrounding all our activities would not go away.
We would later learn more about the attacks. Terror was confirmed. Passengers on board the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania made the phrase "Let's Roll" forever famous, forever with heroic meaning. The popularity of President George W. Bush hit an unprecedented (and not since repeated) level, representing a unity not seen in decades; Democrats and Republicans were able to find common ground in the tragedy, and the president responded with an unforseen leadership ability. It was okay to be patriotic, and petty differences were put aside. Unfortunately, there would be more tragedy to follow; a rise in racism against perceived Muslims. This was quickly denounced by all, further displaying the unity.
September 11 was a hard day, and still is. The images from that day will be burned on our minds. Much like with the shooting of JFK, everyone remembers where they were, what they were doing, everything, from that fateful day. It would be in our best interests to never forget, lest we become complacent, or worse yet, incompassionate.
I know that this post does not read much like my others (and not just because it has a more emotional background to it), but that is the point. That day was so clear, and at the same time can seem like it was all just a really bad dream. Comments are closed on this post; if you wish to communicate with me about this one, e-mail me. If you wish to share with others, e-mail them. I believe there is little to debate here.
I'd like to finish this with a link to a flash dedication to that day. I saw this first only a couple months after the attacks. It is a very beautiful tribute, one I watched many times in the year following and at least on September 11th each year since. To be quite open, I cried when I saw it only a few weeks before the first anniversary for the first time; I cry a little each time since then.
America Attacked 911
I'd like to ask everyone reading to put aside political differences today. It does not matter if local or federal government holds more responsibility in the Katrina disaster. It does not matter who President Bush selects for the open Supreme Court seats. It does not matter who is or will be governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Put aside partisan differences, they will still be there tomorrow, but today, I only pray for unity.