It was one of those days where you’ll always remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. And I have no doubt that every single person at this school, and in the country for that matter, has their own personal story to tell about the day of September 11, 2001.
I thought I’d share my own story and thoughts, out of remembrance. They’re not any more special than anybody else’s. Rather, they just help me to reflect, and cope.
I remember going to my first class that Tuesday. I was sitting there before it began and heard another student say something about a plane flying into a building in New York. I didn’t make anything of it at first, and not expecting or knowing anything else, we proceeded with class.
The hour and fifteen minutes dragged on even slower than usual, with what I heard in the back of my mind. Surely it can’t be what it seems. It has to be some sort of rumor, or a small accident blown out of proportion, I thought. Any terrorist relations never even crossed my mind.
As soon as I left class, something seemed very wrong. As many of you know, and as unlikely as it sounds, even more people than usual were on their cell phones. I thought I saw some crying. Everyone was abnormally quiet and somber and weird.
I hurried a little more at this point to get back to my apartment to see what was up. As I passed by the UC, I saw a huge crowd standing inside around the televisions. I walked in through a sea of dazed eyes and pale faces and saw my first glimpse of the destruction.
Christ…I watched history unfold with my own eyes as the last tower came down. My jaw dropped. My hand covered my mouth. My mind was utterly blown. I’ve never had such fear for all of our lives than I did at that moment.
I stayed for an hour, unable to move or believe what I was seeing and hearing. Two more hijacked planes? DC had been attacked as well? Thousands thought to be dead? Thoughts of World War III and apocalypse were now racing through my mind. God only knew where we would be hit next.
I started to panic and realized I had to get back to call my mom and other people I know. Although I had no friends or family in those areas at the time, I had to hear from people at home. But the damn line was busy! I’m from Maryland and I’ve never wanted to go home so bad as I did right then.
Everything was shutting down, but classes had yet to be cancelled. I went through the rest of the day in a fog, like everyone else. What in God’s name was happening to our country?
No matter how long I live, the images I witnessed that day will remain the absolute most disturbing and shocking things I have ever seen. Right now, I don’t care about the Taliban or al-Qaeda. I don’t care about our government. I don’t care about Osama or Usama or however-the-hell-the-freaking-psycho-prefers-to-spell-it bin Laden.
Here’s what I do care about. I care about the memories of those screaming and crying people in New York City running down the streets for their lives. I care about the permanent images burned in my conscience of people choosing to throw themselves out of the buildings because suicide was a better option for them at that point than what came next. Pictures that still have the simple power to shake me and bring me to tears more easily than anyone ever could. It was all right out of some special effects-laden Hollywood movie. It had to be because that was the only thing that made sense. Except it wasn’t.
I hope people take time to remember their stories on this year’s anniversary. And I pray that we’ll always remember and that we all take a moment of silence and never forget about what happened. Because I have a feeling that as soon as it starts to fade from our memories, something even worse will happen to snap us right back out of that false little sense we call security.
Derek Bramble is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and theater.