Monday, September 11, 2006

5 Years Ago

5 years ago I was a sophomore at Wittenberg University. I woke up 10 minutes before I had to be at my campus job, so I got dressed and hurried to the library, just across the lawn from my dorm. When I arrived, there was a television set up in the library lobby. I didn't really understand what was happening, even when my boss told me, "They hit the Twin Towers--but they haven't fallen down yet! That's American engineering!" About twenty minutes later, they set up a big screen projection in the audiovisual center, and all of the library workers went to watch the news, where we saw what had happened to the pentagon. Then the towers fell.

I still don't think I understood what had happened. I went back to my dorm and tried to call Jube, who was living in Montpellier, but I couldn't get through. All of the international lines were busy.

The day after, all of my professors wanted to talk about it in class. I just wanted to get on with learning Spanish and reading American literature. A quick panel was set up for that Thursday with some political science professors, and it was packed--but didn't explain anything.

I think I finally understood how much the attack affected me--who knew no one there, who only saw a few images on the television, who had been to New York for one weekend--a year later, in France. Belle-maman called me downstairs to watch the television, where they were showing the preview of a documentary filmed by a Frenchman about the attacks. I suddenly began crying and ran upstairs to Jube's room. His family followed, apologizing, telling me "We thought you would want to see it."

When I see all of the made-for-TV movies, the WTC commemorative coins, and the special editions of shows like Extra being filmed at Ground Zero, I don't know how to feel. The immediacy has worn off, but I still don't think that our grief should be exploited for television ratings. So last night I turned the television off after the US Open, which took place in New York and was the best tribute I could think of: continuing our lives with the pursuit of excellence.

4 comments:

BB said...

I was also in the library when it happened. I didn't even understand what was going on until I tried to go to cnn.com, and it was not working. I remember going to the chapel for the emergency meeting, and then I was able to drive home and spend the day with my family. Later that year, we decided to go to New York for Christmas. We had a great time. That's how I prefer to remember New York.

Brooke said...

I watched it on tv that morning with my dad. It was awful. But I don't think I've ever been in tears over it, and I've NEVER been worried about my own safety from it. The only way September 11th has affected me has been to give the ugly druggie fascist pig in the White House a justification for taking my constitutional freedoms away. September 11th, while I thought it was a horrible thing to've happened, did not personally effect me in any way. None. (well, except for the surreality of having had our family vacation in NY City just 3 weeks before it happened, and being glad we'd gone when we did.) It kinda confuses me that people who had no relationship to the events seem to have been affected so dramatically.

Anonymous said...

I remember walking back from a morning lit class (I think we were talking about Ipsen's plays in class that day, and it's odd to me that I should remember that) and seeing signs up for the meeting about the 'national tragedy' in the chapel. I remember running back to the quad to figure out what the hell this tragedy was, and then spending most of the rest of the day sitting at my desk on the computer, alternating back and forth between watching the television and checking the news.

It's funny, because like you, I don't really remember /reacting/ to it. But yesterday I went to CNN.com and watched some of their archival footage and started to cry.

- N

jennc said...

I was at work. It was 3 pm here in France and the office was in a panic because HQ is in NY (not in the towers though).

Work virtually stopped. Two tellies were rolled into the conference rooms and we were all in there. Watching.

I remember feeling like I was watching a cheezy movie when the first tower crumbled. The conference room moaned...

Everytime I see footage of it now, I tear up and my throat aches. I didn't know anyone in NY at the time and I'd never been there. It's a reaction I can't control.