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What Would People Think?

Monday, September 11, 2006

What Do You Remember?

Being a lawyer, I was going to use 9/11 to write a blog post about the legal aspects of the War on Terror. I had in my mind a description of President Bush's recent actions bringing actual terrorists to Guantanamo Bay and seeking to try them. I would've described how it fit into the Administration's legal strategy and political strategy and how I feel things are moving in the right direction...we are again becoming a nation of laws, not men. (I hope.)

Then I started reading news about 9/11 memorials. Emotion and memories pretty much overtook rational thought.

Part of the way I'm trying to make sense of this whirlwind of thoughts and emotion, chaos and sadness.....is to simply remember.

I remember 9/11/01. I remember starting the day, sitting in the living room of my dorm at Vanderbilt, studying for my Latin American Politics class. Mike walked into the room and simply said "Shit!" I'm not good at reading tones of voices, so I thought he was simply annoyed and possibly distressed. I thought that our beloved creation, The Slant (Vanderbilt's humor paper), had somehow enmeshed itself in yet another controversy. I asked "what's wrong?" He said "Somebody just flew some planes into the World Trade Center!" "What?"

We both walked into his room and watched as some rescue worker was describing to CNN how horrible it was....like something out of a disaster movie. Then the second tower fell. I remember watching in absolute shock. I remember covering my mouth with my hand. Maybe crying...maybe not. It just....couldn't be happening.

Later that day I remember going to my Latin American politics class. This was Vanderbilt, so of course classes were not cancelled. My teacher (I remember that he was a socialist), spoke with the class about what would happen now. I remember him (or was it someone else?) saying that our freedoms would probably be restricted in response. I don't remember what else we said.

I remember going to the chapel. (The very chapel where, 4 year and 11 months later, Christy and I would marry.) Later that day there was an impromptu memorial service, but at the time it was just me and a few others. I knelt and prayed. I don't even remember what I prayed.

That's what I remember about 9/11.

Christy also remembers 9/11. At that time she was living with her friend Erin Hamer. When Christy woke up, Erin was staring at the TV. In her groggy state, without her glasses, Christy could only see something hit a building and the building falling. She concluded it was a movie - probably King Kong. Christy remembers actually arguing (still half-asleep) with Erin, insisting that she had seen this movie while Erin kept saying she thought it was real.

After realizing it was real, Christy remembers going to class. Her professor was from New York City. It was a Spanish class. Her family lived just a few blocks from the WTC. She had no idea what had happened. The class had to tell her. The prof. tried bravely to continue class, but couldn't. She ended class early and ran out to find if her family was alive. (They were.)

Christy remembers going to the Pub, Vanderbilt's bar/short order cook place/room with a really big TV. She saw someone walking out. This other student looked like a ghost....just totally ashen and in shock. After Christy had seen enough TV, she left the Pub. Dean Larry Dowdy saw her and asked if she was ok. Christy realized she must have looked the same as the ashen student she had seen earlier.

Christy, for once in her life, decided to do some homework late into the evening. She didn't tell anybody she was going to go study in some classroom. I mean, why should she? She never accounted for her whereabouts before. But today, her friend Alisa Randolph freaked out when Christy never showed up in her dorm at the usual time. Actually filed a Missing Persons report. It's sort of funny to them all now.

That's what Christy remembers about 9/11.

What do you remember about 9/11? Where were you when you heard the news? Who told you? How did you react? What did you see that day?

I'm creating an open forum here. Or you can write on your own blog....but please let me know. I'm not asking for analysis or pontification on what it all means. Right now, I just want to remember.


  • Damn you Ben, you beat me to it. Anyway, my own remembrances and thoughts are forthcoming over on my blog.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/11/2006 8:04 PM  

  • Good idea here. I don't have the energy to write a full-out description, but here's what I've got:

    I had just finished packing my bags for a semester abroad. That morning my plane was leaving for Athens - by way of New York. My dad had heard about the first plane, shortly after it happened, and called home, to let us know that we probably wouldn't be flying that morning at least. That was when it still wasn't clear what exactly was happening. Then we turned on the TV, and watched the second plane hit, and everything else. Like everyone else, I was simply stunned.

    By Blogger Matthew B. Novak, at 9/11/2006 11:32 PM  

  • My dad woke me up, and said something about America being under attack. Something had hit each tower of the World Trade Center, and one of them had fallen down. I made it to the TV just before the second tower fell.

    I remember the people jumping from the windows. I remember wondering if they hit anyone on the street below.

    I remember hearing a news report about a plane that had crashed in a Pennsylvania field, that there may or may not be a connection with the WTC events.

    I remembered when I was a child and we went to NYC, looking up at these unimaginably huge buildings, the likes of which simply don't exist in Reno.

    I called a friend of mine and we went to a casino downtown, just to watch people. It felt somewhat subdued, but actually not too unusual for a mid-day casino atmosphere.

    I remember discussing with him the sweet vengance America would take on whoever did this - you just don't go and piss off the good ol' U.S. of A. I a conservative, and he a liberal, we both wanted the perps to be bombed until the perps thought the Stone Age was a time of luxury.

    I remember our local paper running a special edition that afternoon, something that almost never happens.

    And I remember when the local FOX affiliate went back on the air a couple days later, it aired its customary two episodes of the Simpsons. The second was the episode where they go to NYC. Homer has a funny incident involving the two towers, including the memorable line "Don't mind him - all the jerks live in tower one." The episode went to commercials, and never came back on - they just showed waving flags and played patriotic music for 15 minutes. Knowing from the first minute which episode it was, I watched in stunned disbelief as they played it.

    By Blogger -Dave, at 9/13/2006 3:30 PM  

  • Actually, The Simpsons thing is sort of a funny story. I heard somewhere that the two episodes they were scheduled to air the night of September 11, 2001 were the New York episode and the episode where Sideshow Bob hijacks a plane from an Air Force base (admittedly, a replica of the Wright Brothers plane, but still). Not sure if that's true, but it would be an eerie coincidence. And if it is, it makes sense that they would air it then a few days later, simply resuming their schedule where it left off.

    Speaking of television, I have one more remembrance of 9/11 - the first episode of Saturday Night Live after the attacks, when Rudy Giuliani appeared on the stage with policemen and firefighters and gave a serious monologue about how the city of New York would endure, and gave SNL his blessing. At which point Lorne Michaels said, "So, does this mean we can be funny?" Giuliani replied, "Why start now?" I can't imagine a more perfect way to have handled that moment.

    On a similar note, I remember the first Slant e-mail we sent out after the attacks (on September 20). (Heh, remember the Slant e-mail updates? My how times change.) I remember the tremendous pressure that came with it, for whatever reason (I doubt more than about 5 people read the damn things anyway). Mostly, I remember dashing off the best damn e-mail update we ever did. There was something encouraging in that.

    And I remember the Aerosmith concert on September 19th, and watching them play "Dream On" from about 10 feet away, and knowing life was going to keep on keeping on. I also remember Fuel saying "This is a song Osama bin Laden will be singing when we catch him" right before launching into "Bad Day".

    (I know these are aftermath remembrances rather than day-of remembrances, but felt like sharing them anyway.)

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/14/2006 10:16 AM  

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