Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Nine Years On…

on September 10, 2010
Light beams were used to symbolize the missing...

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Tomorrow is the 9th anniversary of 9/11. I have mixed feelings about this day. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were lost that September morning. However, I am sickened by those who try to use it for political gain or just to get people riled up.

As we all do, I remember where I was on September 11th, 2001.  Still in Pennsylvania, I had graduated college a few months earlier and had a week until I started my new position with AmeriCorps.  I had been enjoying my last few days to sleep in, but on that particular morning I was wide-awake around 7:30.  I wandered downstairs and poured myself a bowl of cereal.  Before the milk even hit the bowl, the phone rang.  I looked at the caller ID and saw that it was my roommate (now my brother-in-law) calling from work.  I answered the phone and he told me to turn on the TV because “something was happening in New York.” The first plane had just hit.

I sat there, watching for hours as the second plane hit and as each of the towers fell. Because both of my roommates worked or had classes, I was alone for most of the day.  My mom called at one point, telling me that they had closed down some of the major skyscrapers and bridges in Seattle.  Then there was the silence.  Once all of the planes were on the ground, it was way too quiet.  Not only was the lack of air traffic odd, no one was talking much.

I didn’t cry much that day. I think I was in shock and just didn’t know how to handle my feelings.  I do remember, though, a year later, sitting in my apartment, watching the tributes to the people who died that day and crying my heart out. In many ways, it was cathartic – all that anger and sadness had built up and needed a release.

Then by the third anniversary, I found myself in grad school in New York. From where I lived in Jersey City, I could see the pillars of light representing the towers.  I was there when they opened the PATH train and subway station at the World Trade Center site.  It was eerie riding out into the crater itself.  Once I was teaching, I talked to colleagues who said that they watched the towers fall from their office window.  I had students who had been scheduled to have a field trip to the WTC that morning, but by some fluke of fate, their buses showed up over 45 minutes late. They should have been there when the planes hit.

And now, it has been nine years. I heard this week about the pastor who wanted to burn the Quran on that day to send a message to the radical Islamics.  While I understand that under the Constitution, he has the right to do this, but is this really how we want to remember the over 2,900 people who died that day?  Maybe the hate is what got us there in the first place. I am so tired of the “Us vs. Them” mentality. The vast majority of Islamic people had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks, so why insult the entire group by this hateful act? I don’t want to say something as simplistic as “love everyone,” but maybe if there were a little less hate in the world, we wouldn’t be remembering the sacrifice of nearly 3,000 poor souls this weekend.


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