12 Sep

Life is full of days.

Good days, bad days, exciting days… days of beginnings and ends, days full of promise, and even some dark days.

There are not a lot of days in my life that I remember with the clarity of a movie playing in front of my eyes.

They say that every generation has at least one of those days in their lifetime.  A day that everyone remembers because of some event, and that they all talk about where they were when they found out about x, y, or z.  This is mine.  Likely, this is yours as well.

I can see that morning as vividly as if I were living it over again.  I was a sophomore in college at NC State.  Engineering major.  Mechanical.  I had an 8am Calculus class (talk about torture).  This day, like every other day, I would walk out of the round building where my class met, cross the brickyard, and go to the Atrium to get some breakfast.

The Atrium was normally a very noisy place.  There was a Chik-fil-a there (and a few other inconsequential eateries, because we all know that when there is a CFA nearby, nothing else matters), and lots of tables filled with chatty college students filling the time until their next class.  In the corners, there were small TVs that were usually turned to a news channel or MTV.

That morning, it seemed like a different place.  When I walked in, the whole place was eerily silent.  Filled with people.  But silent.  It was so odd, that it took me a minute to figure out what was weird about it.  Then I realized that everyone was gathered in the corners, silent, watching what was unfolding in front of them on the news.  It didn’t seem real.  It seemed like, well, it seemed like a movie.  But then they would cut to a shot of the news anchor (Tom Brokaw, I think), and you could see in his eyes that this was, in fact, very real.  I joined the silent crowd and stared up at the TV in disbelief.

They were reporting that it was an accident.  That a small plane had accidentally plowed into the World Trade Center.  Accidentally.

And then the second plane hit.

And there was no more mistaking it.  This was no accident.

I remember actually going to my next class.  The professor refused to cancel it.  I can’t remember a word of what he said, or even what the class was, to be honest.  All I could see was that plane hitting that tower over and over in my mind, and wondering what the heck was going on.

Back at the dorm, I gathered together with all my friends and we cried and questioned and wondered together.  By this time, the other two planes had gone down and we were learning more and more about the situation, but there were still lots of questions.  I was fortunate to have such great friends to walk through this day with.

That day was a lot of things in this country.  It was a very dark and sad day.  It was a day of mourning and weeping.  It was the end of the carefree world that we knew.  And it was the beginning of wars.

But it was also a day that we forgot about our politics and our opinions and we came together as a people.  It was a day when so many sacrificed their lives for others.  When others sacrificed their time, their comfort, and so many other things to help a neighbor.  And that was very good.

I hope that there is never another day like this that my generation can remember with all the clarity of a movie.  But if there is, I hope that there is a memory following closely after it about how we came together to help one another get through it.  And that perhaps it even made us better and stronger people as a result.

One Response to “9.11.01”

  1. whimzie September 15, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    It’s very interesting to me to read or hear people’s stories of where they were on 9/11.

    And on the way to school last week when my kids wanted to know what 9/11 was all about I wondered the same thing: What will be the significant events of their lives that they will alway remember where they were when they heard the news? I feel like even though they don’t remember 9/11 (my oldest wasn’t even a year old and my youngest hadn’t been born yet), it changed their world in so many ways. For all of our sakes, I don’t want to go through anything like that again.

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