We Have Not Forgotten That Day
September 11, 2001 began like any other normal day for me. At the time, I was going to a community college. I woke up, took a shower, got dressed, made some pop tarts and logged onto AOL before I headed off to a class. I started talking with a friend through messenger when I saw the alert come across the main menu about a plane striking the World Trade Center in New York. I heard my parents talking about it the other room. And after seeing a couple of images, I knew it couldn’t have been a small plane. Then the second plane hit. My friend and I both said to each other: we’re being attacked. Normally, I took the bus to school. But because of the news, my dad dropped me off. As I got out of the car, I looked up at the sky and noticed: it was clear blue sky. The weather was the same in New York City.
In class, which happened to be in a computer lab, no one focused on work. CNN, the New York Times, and a handful of other news organizations realized the power of delivering content over the internet. By this time, we knew about the Pentagon. Then the first tower collapsed, the second tower falls. And we heard reports of grounding all aircraft over U.S. skies. By the end of the class, we heard about the plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous 9/11 journal entries, I’ve talked about how I remember this day. I remember taking the bus home from school and talking with my fellow passengers about what was happening. We were all Americans at this point. I walked into the kitchen, which was torn up a bit because we were painting. My mom was sitting in the chair watching the news.
I made myself macaroni and cheese for lunch. I watched a bit of the news before I headed off to work my shift at Hollywood Video. This was a Tuesday. The only big release was Blow starring Johnny Depp. Typically, a light release day turns into a slow day. And it was. Every customer that came into the store was talking about the attacks. One of our customers, our resident conspiracy theorist, had a lot to say about what was happening. I tuned him out. It’s what happened that mid-shift that upsets me to this day. I’ve talked about it in the past. But it was my first experience with pure hatred. I finished my shift, got some Arby’s for dinner and came home. I was glued to the TV throughout the night.
There rumors of course were rampant: gas rationing, Martial Law, an immediate military strike—which at times included talk of the use of nuclear weapons. I went to bed thinking: I was going to wake up to the news that our military nuked some far off country in the Middle East. Thankfully I did not. But I knew it was only a matter of time before the U.S. would respond.
Over the days and weeks, there was a sense of patriotism probably not felt since Pearl Harbor. Flags showed up on porches. Men and women enlisted or re-enlisted in the military as a sense of pride or duty. We all said “never forget.”
And we haven’t.
Yes, the flags may not be on the porches. Events over the past few years have left some questioning the importance of the flag and its symbolism.
Yet, we haven’t forgotten what happened that day.
Everyday, we are reminded of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. And I’m not talking about the increased security at airports and other ports of transportation.
Communities across the country hold memorial services for first responders. They honor natives who grew up in towns and cities but lost their lives on that day. Many communities have pieces of steele and rock from the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
Much like after the end of World War II, the significance of Pearl Harbor has not lost its meaning. We continue to feel its impact today. The same is true for September 11, 2001. We have not forgotten. Nor will we ever forget.
A Few Documentaries You Should Watch
102 Minutes That Changed America: A nearly virtual real-time presentation of the events in New York City on 9/11. It first premiered on the History Channel in 2008. This documentary almost exclusively uses amateur video and photos from that day near the World Trade Center.
9/11: The Heartland Tapes: As news of the attacks in New York unfolded, local radio and TV stations broke into programming. As the day progressed, newsrooms across the country began compiling stories of how the attacks in New York City and later Washington, D.C. and the crash site of United 93 in Shanksville impacted local communities. Churches opened for their doors for people seeking prayer. People of different faiths joined hand-in-hand to find peace. In some communities, there were listening sessions to learn why this happened. Some of it is tough to watch because of clear misdirected hatred.
9/11: As We Watched: This documentary from the American Heroes Channel is part of on-going series of historical events. ABC news is the focal point of this episode. It starts with Good Morning America and how the news organization covered the events from a news perspective.
Through the Decades: Reporting 9/11: This episode is featured in the Decades network on-going series (a digi-channel) and focuses again on the journalists who called to Ground Zero to cover the events or journalists who found themselves eyewitnesses.
In the Shadow of the Towers: This is a new documentary premiering on HBO on Wednesday, September 11, 2019. Students from Stuyvesant High School recall how the events of 9/11 shaped their lives. The high school is blocks away from the World Trade Center.
Of course, World Trade Center and United 93 are two feature films based on real stories of the heroics sacrifices of that day.
Check with your local community for remembrance events happening in your area.