I found myself driving to work this morning trying to figure out where I'd been 6 years ago. What had I been doing... what was I watching or thinking at that exact moment. And the troubling thing is... I could remember it all very clearly. At a little after 9am 6 years ago... I was in a spanish class at the UW... trying to figure out why my teacher was still teaching verb modifiers when our nation was under attack.
Brad and I had seen the second plane hit the South tower of the World Trade Center that morning, as we waited in line for breakfast at the dorm cafeteria. I remember him saying... was that a missle? And I said no, it was a plane. But why would a plane fly into the towers? It was the question we didn't want to know the answer to. So we went to class, because we weren't sure if we shouldn't. And then my teacher yelled at me for trying to talk to the sleepier kids in class who hadn't seen what happened. And then I spent the next 45 minutes confused and terrified.
Why does that matter today? Who are we and are we different? Should we be? Does it let the terrorists win?
I was looking for a photo to go with this post today and I found the one of the "falling man" which I vaguely remember seeing. It was one of the only published pictures of someone jumping out of the trade center that day, because people were outraged that the jumpers were being stripped of their dignity by having their untimely and horrifying death photographed. I agree, that it is awful and disturbing what happened. But as a storyteller, I understand the power that that man's story could hold. It holds the power of outrage, of fight, of the ability for people never to forget what happened that day, to make them different.
I am a different person than the one I was that day by many accounts, and not just because I've aged or gotten married or begun a career. I am a different person because I understand the horror of what can happen in the world we know to be usually safe. I know that we shouldn't stand for an incident like this to ever happen in our country again, but we also shouldn't stand for it to be a reason for other horrors to take place around the world.
As we remember another anniversary of one of the worst tragedies in our history... I hope we don't become numb to what it still means to each and every one of us. It's easy to do that... be jaded by all the years of 9/11 memorials and file footage and somewhat empty rhetoric. But we lived this. And I don't know about you, but I hope to never feel that terror or confusion I felt that day in the cafeteria ever again.