Sunday, September 11, 2011

I remember

I remember very clearly where I was when Challenger exploded, when the Berlin wall fell, when Iran Contra dominated the news, when Iraq invaded Kuwait and we invaded Iraq, when the OKC bombing occurred, and when the towers fell. I remember because I immediately looked at the weather as a possible cause and quickly ruled it out. I hoped it was an accident. But I knew better. I was surprised when the second plane hit but by then it was just the surprise of actually being able to see the plane hit the WTC.

I was at school listening to the panic unfold locally as "threats" had heard about the nearby capitol and local students frantically tried to make sense of both a far away tragedy unfolding and the threat of a more personal tragedy.  I recall having toured the WTC on a field trip for grade school, it having been the only skyscraper I knew of let alone having been inside. I remember wondering if I knew anyone who might work in or around the city having grown up not more than 50 minutes away in southern CT.

School was cancelled around 3, and a few of us stuck around the map room to talk. I can't recall what we specifically talked about but it probably had to do with terrorism. Of course this was before we really knew anything about 9/11. I rode my bike home and subsequently came down with the flu. I literally watched the 24 hour news cycle being born in those 2 days of being home sick. I keenly remember Elizabeth Cohen, a CNN reporter, showing the buildings containing missing people flyers and being overwhelmed by what she saw. It was a very moving, raw piece of reporting. I never did see her on the air after that. It was years before I realized she is now a Health reporter. I missed her reporting.

I also remember cancelling my class of 120 students on Wednesday and returning on Friday. I walked in,  got ready, and realized I had the complete attention of that class. I said what I felt: "That was some fucked up shit. Pardon my French."

I remember the feeling of getting on an airplane not too long after that. Back then TLH tested our bags for explosives and drugs. Those tests had new meaning. I was extra alert for suspicious people, as probably most people were. I was extra cautious and that feeling took a few flights to settle down. I still look around but for what I have no idea.

There was a lot of talk about heroes today. The heroes that died. The heroes who made it back out alive. The heroes who worked on the pile. The heroes who are the family members who read names aloud, who have read those names for ten years, who have raised their children and have helped their friends, family, and neighbors cope with the loss of a loved one. They continue to sacrifice.