Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering 9/11

September 11, 2001 will be one of those days that will live on in people’s memories. It will fade eventually and become a little less glaring, but it will never go away. For decades, people will ask, “Do you remember where you were?” and people will say, “I remember when…”

I was at work and I was listening to NPR. At that time, I was the only person in my office so I was able to listen to the radio without bothering anyone else. At first, no one was really sure what had happened. I remember them talking about an explosion at the World Trade Center and then the programming switched over to the BBC News Hour. So, I learned about the second plane and really the first plane while listening to the BBC as the announcer talked about the video clips that they were receiving. “It looks like a plane,” I heard the announcer say and then it was confirmed.

I remember that I called my husband and told him that something was happening. I still wasn’t sure what it was, but I told him something was wrong. We stayed on the phone for awhile and he filled me in on the details that were hitting the internet. Someone ran into my office wanting to know if we could turn on the television in the conference room and I reminded her that it didn’t have any reception. It was for videos only. She left at a run to get back to the radio in her area. It was as if the world stopped. There were no voices. Somewhere in the midst of the silence, I called my mother, but she was already watching and she described some of the scenes to me that the radio could not convey.

Like most of America, I spent the next week watching the television coverage. I watched those planes hit the towers over and over again until the pictures are engraved in my memories. I don’t need to watch the 9/11 coverage today. I still remember it like it was yesterday and yet in some ways it seems like it was decades ago instead of just five years.

Some say that 9/11 changed the world. It definitely changed me. Recently, someone asked me if I feel less secure since the attack and I have to say that I do, but perhaps not in the way they meant when they asked the question.

I was reminded, rather forcibly, that I am a minority. After 9/11, I witnessed some of my friends, neighbors, co-workers, family… turn against a whole group of people because of the actions of a few. I heard the hateful words “those people” and listened to people, that I had always thought of as rational thinkers, talk about Muslims as if they were the definition of evil.

It hurt. Suddenly, I realized how easily people could turn against me…not because of anything I did, but because of what I look like or what I believe in. What if North Korea decides to stop posturing? What if a radical group in China decides that the United States is the root of all evil? Oh, I realize that the likelihood of an event as big as 9/11 is unlikely, but I still feel tense and a little bewildered. Now, I not only have myself to worry about, but my son.

So, as it did for millions of others, 9/11 made me feel a little less secure in the country that I adopted. While the optimistic side of me reminds myself of all of the good things that came out of 9/11, the pessimistic side of me stands back a little and wonders what will come next.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

I was on my way to work from a doctors appointment when I heard the news. I couldn't figure out what was going on until I got to work. As soon as I had it figured out, I knew instantly that my life was going to change forever.

The boss sent us all home early to be with our families, but my husband had to work so I watched to coverage by myself. As soon as my husband walked in the door, I asked him if had called the recruiter yet. He sat down, put his hand on my knee, and said, "I wanted to talk to you about that, Sweetie." He was a Marine during the first Gulf conflict and I knew he wasn't going to be able to sit back and not do something about this. Five years ago I was a wife to a ceramic tile warehouse manager. Now I am a wife to a deployed Marine.

As long as there are Americans willing to stand up for Our Country and fight, the USA will be safe.