Saturday, September 11, 2010

Minutes Forever Burned Into My Memory

Every generation seems to have at least one major event that has been burned into our minds exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard the unbelievable news.

Older generations may remember what they were doing when they heard Pearl Harbor was attacked. Or where they were when they first learned JFK had been shot. For the current generation, it's how we discovered the impossible had happened on 9/11.

It was the beginning of my junior year. I was excited to be taking AM swim, which meant I was at school a full hour and half before anyone else. Wet from washing all the chlorine out of my hair, I rushed from our school pool up to the main building. It was always chilly this early in the morning and having damp hair only made it worse. Relief washed over me as I entered the warm building on the top of the hill. Though there were still minimal crowds and the start of classes was still a good 20 minutes away, I hurried to my first period, back out into the brisk morning on the other side of the main building and into one of the newer portables. I had U.S. History with one of my favorite teachers, Mr. S. He made history come to life, he made it real and entertaining. He made us feel like we were a part of it.
That morning, history would be made, in fact, little did I know it already had. Sitting at the table where I was assigned, I did my usual ritual to prepare for class. I pulled out the necessary binder and book. I even brought out some other homework to finish up before class began. The lights weren't even on yet, though Mr. S had just stepped out and another girl who sat with me, Rachel, had come in. She also got to school bright and early to secure a parking spot along the street. Only seniors and some juniors got stickers to park in the parking lots around campus. (I happened to be one, having won the parking spot lottery in which about 10 of 100+ juniors hoping for a spot were picked!) Rachel had been sitting in her car for probably about an hour or more before school started (I did this most of my sophomore year), and she had been listening to the radio when they announced that at 5:52 am (PST) the first plane had hit, and a mere 9 minutes later the second plane had crashed into the other twin tower. Rachel told me what had happened, but at the time I was only barely aware of what the twin towers were. And I couldn't believe or grasp what she was telling me. It seemed unreal and in fact I didn't really believe her when she shared it. I kept thinking it must me some hoax the radio show she was listening to had been doing. But sure enough only minute later Mr. S came back into the room and flipped the TV on and reality hit me, though I still couldn't believe what I was seeing. Time warped and though all this happened in only a few minutes, in my mind it feels like it was hours.
Impossible. How could something like that happen here? Though in history we read about times or war and conflicts, that is all it is, history. It just can't be happening here and now, in my time, in my country. My safe and secure country.
As clear as those early morning minutes still are in my mind, the rest of the day is a blur. TV screens on in every classroom, replaying the horrific images that should only be found in our nightmares. Students crying and in shock. Though we lived across the country from this terror, it hit us all as though it happened in our very own backyard. No, it happened in our front yard, a city, we thought about as glamorous and untouchable, with its tall, important buildings, and streets filled with yellow cabs. Now was buried under dust and rubble. Death was heavy in this city once teeming with life. And it was felt everywhere, from the piles of twisted metal and stone that once stood tall, to the hearts of those watching from the sunny beaches in Hawaii. A cloud had spread over the entire country now united in mourning.

That is what I remember from that tragic day 9 years ago. Do you remember where you were when the unimaginable news first broke the stillness?

Don't forget to take a moment to remember and pray today. Pray for the families who lost loved ones. Pray for the troops who are still out fighting the war that began 9 years ago. Pray for our nation as it still heals from its deep wounds.

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