So as I've been perusing the blogosphere today I've seen a lot of 5 years after 9/11 posts. And as I found them to be interesting, I thought I'd chronicle my experience here, as much for myself as for anyone else.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I had a class to attend, taught by Dr. Hanscom. It must have been Computer Architecture. Anyway, I drove over to school, parked in the E lot, and as I was parking the car heard on the radio that "in case you haven't heard, two planes have crashed into the World Trade Center this morning". As I snapped off the radio, I thought to myself, "What are the odds of that happening?", then headed off to class.
When I arrived, my friend Wade came up and asked, "Who do you think did it?" and I said, "Did what?" and he proceeded to spell out for me that the planes crashing was not an accident, and he probably mentioned the name Bin Laden to me, which I hadn't heard before. My professor arrived, and unlike most of the classes on the softer side of campus, he said, "I'm sure you've all got a lot on your minds, but we've got a lot to cover, so lets get to it." And then we had class as usual. Meanwhile, Wade was getting messages on his pager that informed him of the plane crashing into the Pentagon and also of the flight (Flight 93, I believe) that was crashed in the field.
After class, I headed to the Student Union Building. I must have had some kind of obligation over that way, but all I remember was walking into the Union Building and seeing people crowded around the TVs. I watched as they replayed the footage of the plane crashing into the tower and was amazed at how the plane was engulfed by the building, rather than smashing against the side of the tower as I would have imagined it happening. And thats when it finally seemed real to me.
The rest of the week, none of my classes were cancelled, but we (myself, my roommates, and my neighbors) spent plenty of time in front of the TV watching the coverage. We needed a mop and I joked about taking it to school and marching about "mopping up terrorism." This period was followed by endless politicizing, songs, video montages, and telethons (why was a Canadien -- Celine Dion -- singing God Bless America in our telethon).
I remember President Hinckley speaking during conference the next month and mentioning that he'd just been informed that we were bombing Afghanistan. I remember the footage of Baghdad being bombed 2 years later during my Spring Break. I now have a good friend serving in Iraq who returns in November.
It seems long ago now. I guess 5 years is a long time. Kids are entering kindergarten now who had just been born. If I've been changed by the whole thing, I guess its an increased awareness of how people treat our country and our leaders. Both people outside and inside our country. I'm getting tired of people talking bad about our country. Its still a pretty great place. Anywhere else that this would have happened, we'd have been asked to step in, and we would have. Most other places, Muslims and Arabs (and especially Arab Muslims) would have lost a lot of rights. Here, perhaps they are more likely to be "randomly" selected for increased screening at airports, but otherwise most people seem to be giving them a fair shake.
For the most part, I feel like 9/11 is slowing fading into the past. Hopefully it will continue to fade into the past along with other tragedies, as the majority of our days continue to be peaceful and prosperous. Maybe not for those of us who lived through it, and especially not for those directly affected, but for the rest, maybe it will be like JFK's assassination and Pearl Harbor. Years from now, kids in school will be trying to remember on their history test whether it was 9/11 or 11/9 or something else, but at least we managed to get the date into the name, instead of D-Day or VE-Day, so you can thank us for that kids of the future.