September 11th, 2001: My Experience

By | September 11, 2011

Because today marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks, I thought it would be appropriate to break away from the standard opinionated car news and write something relevant to the day. Here is what I remember from September 11th:

September 11th Attacks

It was 8:15 in the morning and I was in my first period algebra class. I was a sophomore in high school and nothing was out of the normal, except for a few¬†murmurs among students about “what had happened this morning”. It wasn’t anything I really thought twice about until our teacher came in and explained that the World Trade Center in New York City had been attacked and that we needed to turn to chapter three. And that was it. Because this was still the pre cell phone era, I didn’t really hear much more other than rampant speculation and stories from uninformed high school students about the situation until I got home from school.

I remember walking through the door, and like millions of other Americans, switched the TV to CNN. My mom was watching upstairs and came down to find me fixated to a television showing images that seemed straight out of a movie. Video footage showed two towers which I wasn’t familiar with outside of simply knowing the name shrouded in smoke and eventually collapsing to the ground in horrific fashion. Other footage showed a plane smashing into the second tower while the first spit out dark smoke from a large, gaping hole in the side. On the ground, police and firefighters mixed in with masses of panicked people tried to grasp and gain control of a situation that was nothing short of pure chaos.

The broadcast switched to show more footage of an American Airlines flight that crashed into the side of the Pentagon as well as another hijacked plane that had crashed in Pennsylvania on its way to Washington DC.

According to the newscaster at the time, it was widely speculated that someone called Osama Bin Laden, leader of a terror organization called the Taliban, was behind the attacks. It was the first time I’d heard either of those names and I certainly didn’t realize what a role they would play in the lives of every single American from that point on.

I’m sure that those who lived through the attacks on Pearl Harbor must have felt some of the emotions and questions that I experienced on September 11th, 2001. Why were we attacked? Would there be more attacks? Who was responsible? Does this mean we’re going to war? These questions left a looming feeling of uncertainty almost as powerful as the images on the TV.

I remember watching President Bush’s address to the nation that night. He closed his speech out by saying:

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

I’m not an elegant writer. I don’t really know how to convey emotion outside of sarcastic Kirstie Alley jokes. All I can do is simply sum that day up by saying I went to bed knowing that being a free American suddenly meant a lot more than it did the day before. Ten years later, it still does.


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