Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept. 11- Seven Years Later

Everyone has their "where we you?" anecdote about 9/11. Here's mine:

At 8:30 that morning, I was up and getting ready to go to the library at my school, the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, and do my twice-weekly stint helping out. Contemplating a morning no more demanding than shelving books, working on a library-sponsored website and maybe some other light paperwork, I was only halfway listening to the TV when it came in.

News of a plane crash at the World Trade Center.

I thought it was pretty damned odd that someone would hit one of the Twin Towers. It was crystal clear outside, beautiful weather and perfect visibility. Had the pilot had a heart attack? I had no idea, but got ready to leave and went to the library.

Wasn't long before someone came in and said, "The other tower was hit."

Okay, one might be an accident, two is... terrible.

We--that is, the two or three other people in the library and I-- hurried upstairs from the third to the fifth floor, where we would have a view of Lower Manhattan and the WTC. Sure enough, the buildings were nearly invisible inside the biggest puffball of smoke I could have imagined. They had not yet collapsed, btw, but then, collapse was inconceivable.

We went back to the library.

Wasn't long before someone came in and said, "One of the towers fell."

And the day spiraled down from there. I went back upstairs but there wasn't much to see. So, needing information, I headed to my dorm for my tiny portable TV (not thinking that the biggest TV antenna around had just fallen). I found Kat about a block away, heading toward my school building--I like to think she was trying to find me--and we got my TV but found the school was already being evacuated and the students dismissed.

Among the other students, we talked about what it could mean and how it might have happened, and milled in the courtyard in front of our building. Kat and I headed to my dorm room with her friend, then watched TV for a couple of hours trying to absorb what had happened. I called my mom and she called her dad, then I escorted her to where her dad waited to take her home. (It was my first meeting with the man I now call Pop and the first time Kat ever talked to my mom.) We'd only been going out for less than two weeks but sharing that awful afternoon somehow cemented a bond between us.

The rest of the day passed in a haze of grabbing lunch at the nearby deli (which miraculously had not closed or run out of food), searching for a place to donate blood, and hearing that our gym (the Golden Dome) would be a temporary relief station and staging area for rescue operations in New York City.

The weather that day, and for days after, could not have been better. It was astounding, as if Nature wanted to console us with all its beauty and give the rescue workers the best chance they could have.

By that afternoon, we knew we'd been attacked. I felt this murderous rage that was slow to disperse; even to this day, I want revenge against the people who did this to my country. I wish we had gotten it.

9/11 has a powerful place in our nation's history. My only hope now is that something will eventually come out of the madness and panic of the past seven years that is better than what we've endured-- that this dark age has not been endured in vain. We'll see if history validates me or not.

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