9/11: 16 Years Later
9/11: 16 years later
The world changed 16 years ago today. As I write my annual 9/11 post, I’m sitting in the same room just a few feet away from when I first learned of a plane hitting one of the Twin Towers. I was talking with a friend on AOL Messenger. The conversation that day is unimportant, though I’m sure it had something to do with Xena: Warrior Princes. I remember looking at an article on AOL about the attack and seeing a photo. I remember saying to my friend: that’s not a small plane. That’s a big hole.
Minutes later, the second plane hit.
The conversation turned to the events in New York City.
We were under attack. We were at war. But with who? I didn’t know.
I must admit, I wasn’t aware of the world around me. My life consisted of work and going to a small private school at the time. I wasn’t concerned with terrorism or the events happening outside of the United States.
But by the end of the day, I was aware. And I knew the name everyone was saying was behind the awful events of that day. And it wasn’t until several years later that I would fully understand what led up the events of the day.
I remember going to class. It was a computer class so we were getting the latest from CNN. The Pentagon was hit. Evacuations in D.C. The Towers fell. And a plane crash in Pennsylvania. It was all we talked about in class. No one wanted to learn about computer networks and how they worked. This was our lesson of the day.
Riding the bus home that day everyone was talking about the events. The bus driver had a radio station on that was broadcasting news from New York and elsewhere. No one knew where the president was. No one knew if it was over.
At home, work on our kitchen stopped. My mom was watching a cable channel. I made mac-and-cheese before heading to work at the video store. I had pop tarts for breakfast for those interested. It’s amazing the things we remember, even years later.
The video store was a human experience of the day. I saw the best and the worst of people in one swoop. I remember customers being compassionate. I remember one customer making a racist comment toward a co-worker. At this point, everyone had an idea of who was behind the attack. As I look back upon that moment, I like to feel the woman was angry and wasn’t her true feelings. But in our world today, maybe not.
There was our conspiracy theorist customer who hypothesized about what was really happening. I’m pretty sure he’s the guy that buys into all those silly documentaries made by people who reach to explain what they cannot understand or want to comprehend.
The rumors were rampant. There was going to be a gas shortage. We were going to launch a barrage of missiles at Iran and Iraq and maybe Libya. After all, most felt terrorists came from those countries. As we learned over the days after the attacks they came from none of those countries. Most from were from Saudi Arabia. A wake up call.
We were slow for a Tuesday. Understandable. Who would want to laugh on day like that? I left early. I stopped at Arby’s and came home to eat.
I remember it being eerily quiet. I live on a flight path for the local airport. Hearing airplanes is normal. But on that Tuesday, the only thing I would see in the sky were fighter jets patrolling the airspace.
Sitting in my room, I reflected upon the events of the day while watching CNN. I remember going to bed thinking: was there going to be a nuclear war? What world was I going to wake up to?
These thoughts are still with me, 16 years later.
Days turned into weeks. Weeks into months. Months into years. As we reflect upon the 16th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks we must remember on that day we were one nation. There was no black, no white, no left, no right. We were Americans. We were a nation hurting. Firefighters from across the nation went to New York City to help with recovery efforts. You couldn’t go down a street without seeing an American flag flapping in the wind.
But in the 16 years since that day, something has been lost. I believe know what has been lost, but it is not my place to state what that is. I will leave that up to others to figure out what we have lost as a nation. I will give a hint: look inside yourself for the reasons and dig deeper for the answers.
I recommend the following documentaries and books about the 9/11 attacks:
- 9/11: As We Watched (documentary, featuring ABC News coverage of the day)
- The Looming Tower (book by Lawrence Wright, documents that road to 9/11)
- Path to 9/11 (documentary released this year if you don’t want to read the book above, then this is your next best option)
- 9/11 Commission Report (book, a beast at that, details the failings of our law enforcement, intelligence and political leaders)
- The Heartland Tapes (documentary, how news organizations across the country covered the attacks)
- 9/11 (documentary, a pair of French filmmakers set out to follow a firefighter but ended up covering the most documented event in history)