11 September 2006

five years ago today

Where were you when you heard the news?

I was riding the bus to work when I heard the bus driver telling another passenger that an airplane had hit one of the twin towers. I dismissed it as some kind of crazy accident, and didn't think about it much. It was unusual for a driver to have the radio on, but I didn't think much about that either. I was almost six months pregnant with an unplanned baby, trying to cope with that as well as going to school and working part-time, so if I was a little preoccupied and self-centered, I did have my reasons.

When I got to work -- I was working at the Educational Technology Center on campus that semester -- all of the TVs in the ETC and the adjoining Multimedia Center were tuned to the news. Everyone was sitting around, just watching. During my bus ride the second tower had been hit. I was restless and didn't understand the scope of things at that point; I felt like I should be working, and asked my boss what I could do, but she said no one needed to work today.

Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day, and I don't really remember what I did after I left work. At that time we were spending a lot of time at the house on Raleigh Street where some of our friends were living. I remember watching the news there; I remember they had marked September 11th on their calender as "a day that will live in infamy".

Being the simple-minded pacifist-type that I am, it took me a while to understand the enormity of the event. I mean, terrorist attacks happen all the time, all over the world; it took an attack on our own soil to make Americans sit up and take notice. Do Americans know the date of a single terrorist attack on another nation? But the date of 9/11 is known all over the world. It was our generation's Pearl Harbor. But the "enemy" this time was much more elusive.

I had an online journal then, and I remember quoting the musical Rent in one entry: "The opposite of war isn't peace; it's creation." I was scared to be having a baby at a time when our country was in such emotional chaos; when an attack on civilians made people more concerned with revenge than justice; when there was so much anger where I thought there should have been sorrow instead. Friends started emailing me jokes about "towelheads"; I felt very alone in being a proponent of peace and justice at that time.

Five years later, my world is much different than it was then. I have two beautiful boys who are the center of my world (who I'm already trying to teach the value of peace). Yet our country is still mired in a war in the middle east -- does anyone really know what it's for anymore? The government gives optimistic reports but the media, the soldiers, other nations tell things a little differently.

I'm not going to get political, because I don't have the energy. But I do wonder when and how -- sometimes if -- it will all end. I worry about what the future holds for my boys. What will the world look like when they are men? Will 9/11 still have the same importance in 20 years? Will it be an isolated event from the days before we wiped out terrorism, or will there have been other, bigger, deadlier attacks by then? I don't think about these things often. Most days I just live my life, play with my boys, and enjoy myself, because if I do give in to these wonderings, it's just too scary.

What about you? Thoughts. reflections, experiences? Where were you five years ago today?


Anonymous said...

i was in sweden visiting a friend (maria). i remember we were watching oprah when suddenly some text appeared on the screen and we switched to cnn (or bbc news, can't remember). it was a little past 4pm our time and i remember watching live as the second tower flew into one of the towers. i was terrified.

but i too don't really think about these things on a daily basis, for the same reason. i even stopped following world news for some time because all i ever heard about was blood or catastrophies. and politics in general just pissed me off, especially slovene politics, often full of one or the other type of injustices. i don't know...

lots of love,

Bella said...

Hi Heidi! It's been awhile.. I had some time to mess around on the internet and ended up on live journal.. which led me here. I just started writing on this site three days ago. Interesting how things happen...
Five years ago on 9/11 I was at home with my daughter. She was napping in her crib and I was trying to do housework. The telephone rang, I remember it clearly, it was my father. He told me to turn on the television and just as I did the second plane was coming into view. It struck the building and I was spinning, trying to figure out exactly what was happening. I held a can of Pledge in my left hand and it fell to the floor. The rest of the day I spent holding my daughter in front of the television, weeping and talking on the telephone.