Tuesday, September 11, 2007

6 years ago today

6 years ago today at 5:30am I got up to get ready for work. I showered and dressed and headed into the family room to put on my shoes and eat some breakfast right before the 6am news with the headlines. I remember being a little caught off guard that Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were already on air since the Today Show wasn't supposed to start broadcasting for a couple of minutes. As I ate my raisin bran, with the TV turned low so as not to wake Tyler or Kenzie, I picked up the story of some sort of "explotion that had taken place at the world trade center." Shocked, I watched the billowing smoke and listened to the conjecture as the reporters were seeking some actual information from the center of the action.
Riveted to the TV, I remember watching to the live feed while conjecture of possible bomb plots, accidental plane crashes, and/or gas explosions were given as to the cause of the thick plumes of smoke. I remember Matt Lauer stopped talking, even for just a moment, as the second plane crossed across the scene and dove into the South Tower. 17 minutes after the first explosions, there was momentary panic and pandemoneum as the playback showed that it was indeed a plane that had purposefully flown right into the side of a building filled with people. Survivors? Maybe on their way out? Rescue crews? Already working to save and organize those who were trying to move away from the carnage. Who could do such a thing? And then that's when it was pointed out, the obvious, this was terrorism. I couldn't believe what I was watching. It felt like that part of the world quit moving while all the focus was what was going to happen to those towers, but the world was still moving in Nevada; in my little house on Jazzy June, at Silverado High School in Las Vegas and I had to get to work.
I remember, six years ago, getting in my car and trying to tune into an AM station that would have the news. 94.1 FM was all pop and talk, so surely the more conscientious AM stations would be having some reports. Nadda. I got to the school and headed to the teachers' mailroom and asked some of my coworkers if they had heard anything. None of the five or six I talked to had even heard anything about it. Semi-disgusted with their ignorance I headed to my classroom to turn on the TV for some updated news. When my 1st period of seniors came into my room, it was hard to turn the TV off . . . so I didn't. In fact, I asked some of the boys to help me rig a better antanae out of paper clips so we could listen to the news unfold. I think Tom Brokaw had taken over the broadcasting and I was half-heartedly trying to work through our daily agenda. That's when the towers began to collapse. I still remember standing at my desk looking to the front of the room, with my mouth open, and thinking, "Oh no, no, no."
I kept thinking, "Dialogue about this with the kids." But who had any kind of answers? The media was making all kinds of guesses and were reporting other plane crashes around the country. By the time my 2nd period class came in, there was a somber ambiance as the kids were finally understanding the magnitude of what they had been watching. I guess word had spread and I wasn' the only one showing the news in my classroom. There was a gal, Jessica, in the 2nd period class that had just moved from back east at the beginning of the year. She was a wreck as soon as they announced the Pentagon had been attacked because that's where he worked and she couldn't get a hold of him on his phone. (He was fine, luckily.) Really? This was going to touch clear across the country? By the time the second tower fell, I knew the reports were going to turn morbid, so I made the kids write down their impressions, right there, that minute, right in the thick of that turn in our existence.
But I haven't written about it. When the final numbers were reported, 2974 killed, I immediately empathized with those wives, husbands, children, parents, siblings, etc. who had lost their loved ones. The rescue workers who sacrificed their well-being for others particularly touched me . . . still do.
I think about the catastrophe of 9/11 and it still makes me sad. I remember the ensuing politcal debates, the investigations, and the anti-terrorism fervor. It makes me sad to think there could be a mom or a dad that would teach children to hate other people, so that when those children grow up they'd be willing to kill so many guiltless people. Six years later, when volunteers are fighting for medical care to deal with the aftermath of days and nights spent in the muck of the twin towers, it doesn't feel like we're any safer, any wiser, or any more focused. Fighting a war spurned by the events of 9/11? It doesn't make sense to me. None. Killing for killing? It doesn't make me feel any more settled than I did that morning six years ago.
Have we relegated 9/11 to an Oprah special and small memorials? It doesn't make sense how so many of us, myself included, "remember" but stay out of affecting change. Sigh. So, where were you six years ago? Are you still affected? Do you remember? I want to be a better person and nation to really honor the memory of those who were lost. Can we do it?


The Fatman said...

You know usually I make jokes on try to be the light hearted person on the blogs but really with a post this deep you kinda got to keep it real. I can tell you that I was at work doing technical support for UPS Software. I can tell you that the caller on the other end who only moments before was whining to me about being unable to use a computer suddenly told me she had to go. I asked (becuase it is required) Is there anything else I can assist you with today and she promptly told me no and to turn on the news. I remember saying to my boss that I sat right next to that something was wrong. I remember him jokingly saying yeah our phone queue is gone and we have 50 people waiting to take calls. I will never forget when everyone of us that where there that morning realized none of us were on calls and we had heard that the Towers had been hit by a planes. That day came to a screeching halt as most of us sat in the break room and watched the TV. I remember feeling sick to my stomach at the loss of life and the destruction of something that was part mine as an American. I remember suddenly realizing I would never see the twin towers in real life. I remember that about 3 months ago I had another dream that a plane crashed into the Mandalay Bay while I was working there. This has effected alot of people in alot of ways and I know that I only wish the best to the people that lost loved ones on that day.

Donna said...

Some of my experiences that day were much like yours, Sarah. I remember waking up to watch the news and get ready to go to school to teach a classroom full of seven and eight year olds. I will never forget standing as a school on the playground that day and reciting The Pledge of Allegiance. I can honestly say I had never been, and haven't been since, as affected by the pledge as I was that day and the days and weeks that followed. I didn't watch the news until my prep period. The awful tragedies of that day were not something as an educator I found appropriate for such young children. Several of them came to school having already heard the news, not completely understanding it all, of course, but still as confused by it as the rest of us. I don't know that many of them will remember that day, but I know I will. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

chanel said...

Well said! It is ridiculous that we haven't learned from that tragedy, that we started a war in the name of 9/11 especially since those actions have little if anything to do with Iraq. I don't think I have ever seen or felt such sorrow as I have for the families affected by 9/11.
We are becoming increasingly apathetic and I am sure we will be given another "wake up" call.

It was pure shock to watch that day unfold, I was on track break, so I didn't start teaching until a few weeks later. It was a huge blessing to begin a 4th grade class and bond with the expereicne we all shared separtely. I had a Muslim Academy teacher come and speak to my class after hearing students repeat the hate they heard at home. I was not about to allow these precious children be filled with the bigoted ignorance that they were hearing from their parents. We ended the year with a huge patriotic program that we put on for the whole school with a special dedication to the heros we knew in our lives such as firefighters, teachers, and loved ones. It was amazing how easy it was to use the tragedy for good, that is what this whole country needs to be doing!

Jenn S. said...

Sarah, you must know how rough this day is for me - being that we were living there at the time. I've tried to write about it many times but just can't articulate my feelings about a day that was just so surrea. I am still too attached to it, it's still too raw - thank you for writing about this. Thank you for remembering.