Sunday, September 11, 2005

In Remembrance

I remember the events of September 11th, 2001 like they happened yesterday. We had just taken our first exam of the year in AP Statistics when I heard the news. At the time, I was pleased with my performance on the test and looking forward to the rest of this clear, warm, late summer day. As some friends and I were walking out of the classroom, an acquaintance of ours came up and asked if we heard about the plane crash. The mutual friend, Nick Klein, quickly had my attention.

As an aviation buff, I immediately wanted to learn more. As a human being, I began to worry about the safety of my aunt, who works for the US House of Representatives. And as an American, I went through seemingly every possible negative emotion within the next hour. Anger at not knowing exactly what was occurring. Disgust when I realized that it probably wasn’t a coincidence that there were multiple plane crashes along the Eastern seaboard. Sadness after realizing that thousands of lives had just been obliterated. And perhaps most overwhelmingly, confusion – it didn’t take long to understand that this was an event that would alter the course of the life of everyone in the United States, which is certainly a confusing thought. After coming home from school, my sister drove this point home when she said, “Wow, this will be in textbooks. People are going to study this. And we’re living it.” For real. I remember spending the next few days with confusion and shock, like they were shadows that led and followed me everywhere.

Perhaps my most vivid memory is sitting on the couch with my family, waiting for the events to unfold. One of my defense mechanisms for coping with tragedy is to escape, but if you wanted to watch television, departure surely wasn’t an option. The Food Network went off the air immediately afterwards, deciding to post a message of grief and solidarity over regular cooking tips. Jeopardy was preempted in favor of round-the-clock news coverage from our local NBC affiliate. Even MTV eschewed videos and typical fare like “Dismissed”, instead broadcasting CBS’ live feed from Ground Zero.

While we were letting CNN feed us the newest developments, I got a call from an old friend. He told me that his soccer practice was canceled like all other after school activities that week, and asked if I wanted to meet up at our neighborhood park, which I did. I met him and eight other friends at Pioneer Park that day, and we had a great 5-on-5 football competition, especially given the day’s events. We used to play all the time in junior high, but since then, we had all found jobs, extracurricular activities, girlfriends, or other things to occupy our time. This was the first match of the year, and also the last, and also a metaphor for what was occurring to our country, and especially our generation.

After September 11th, we haven’t had time to play around. We’ve been forced to take things seriously, evaluate threats, and abandon our carefree lifestyles. Some of us have been forced to go to war. Basically, it forced our generation to grow up. Fast. So as the four year anniversary arrives, we mourn the loss of not only our citizens and our monuments, but also our trust, our freedom, and our youth.