Official LL5 Dolphin-Dive
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Jackson, NJ
With apologies for length, this is an excerpt from something I wrote on the anniversary in 2009...
I was 17, in my TV production class in high school, and when I walked in the door some of the A/V kids (the ones who never seemed to leave) were watching the newsfeed after the first plane had hit. At that time, everyone had thought it was just a small commuter plane and everything was just a horrible accident. |
Then, 100% LIVE, we all watched a second plane come screaming into view, then disappear behind the towers and reappear as a flaming, smoking hole in the other side. After leaping from our chairs in shock, at that point it was absolutely clear it was not just an accident and immediately, you couldn't help but think, "How widespread is this? How bad can it get?"... I just remember looking around at everyone in my class and there was a look on everyone's face where you could tell no one ever thought the world would be the same ever again.
We watched. Watched as the nation learned that it wasn't just the towers. The Pentagon had been hit. Watched as reports came that another plane had crashed somewhere in Pennsylvania. Watched as people leapt to their deaths from the top floors of the towers because the jet-fueled flames kept them from getting to safety. Watched as mobs of people ran sceaming away from the base of the towers while police, firefighters, and EMS workers ran in to try and get people out.
Then they collapsed... The silence as we watched in those next moments seemed like it went on forever. Even when I think back to it, it's like somewhere in the recesses of my mind that silence is still there, like a part of my brain is still too shocked and horrified to do anything but sit quietly. I remember having to walk to my next class and just breaking down and bawling my eyes out because of what I'd seen and how I just wanted it all to be a horrible dream. I remember running down the hall in tears, no one else understanding why because at that point, the few of us in that TV class were really the only ones in the entire school who knew about it. I remember running, not because I wanted to get away from the images on the TV, but because I wanted to be with my friends and the people I cared about if things really did wind up being how they FELT, and it felt like the world might end that day.
Now since Sept. 11th, we've waged wars with 2 nations, one justified, the other debatable at best, we've suffered through some of the greatest infringments of our civil liberties by Democrat and Republican alike all in the name of "Security", and a crashed economy.
But with all that has come out of that day, the good, the bad, and even the vile, 9/11 and the time that followed was really the first time in my life that I honestly, truly felt PROUD to be an American. I'm not particularly proud to confess that, as it shows just a little of how much I, as well as many others, have taken, and continue to take our home for granted.
The reason I say that is because I did what everyone else did that day and the days following- sat watching the news- and I remember after the towers finally fell, the smoke and dust hadn't even cleared as this one reporter and his camera crew were rushing down the streets and came across this small ARMY of construction workers walking TOWARD the wreckage... When asked what they were doing they replied that they were going in to do whatever they could to help. At 17, I was floored by this. When you're 17 you always dream of being a hero, whether it be a superhero like Superman or Wolverine, or "that guy" who tackled the robber running from the Quickie Mart. But you never really stop to think about what a hero really is, and on that day, I learned. These men were coming from a site blocks away. They had grabbed whatever tools they could carry, walked off the job, and went to help. They didn't think of what other dangers might be there, of what they might be exposed to, they knew there were people in that rubble, perfect strangers, who needed their help.
You expect EMS, firefighters, and police to run into danger to help others, after all, it's their job, not that being their job takes away from the heroism of it, but it's expected. To see dozens, hundreds, thousands of completely average people picking up whatever digging tool they could find and marching right into the danger of that fiery, smoky, dusty rubble... I'll be honest, I cried then and I still get choked up thinking about it now. I'm writing this from work and in all truthfulness I'm having a lot of trouble keeping my emotions in check as I do.
The thing is that, because of those people, when I look back at that day, its almost easy to forget about the evil, about the horror, because I got to see and hear about so many TRUE American HEROES that day, from the firemen and police and emergency workers, to the people aboard Flight 93 who kept it from being much worse, to the thousands of people who ran for the wreckage of the towers just for the small glimmer of hope of digging out survivors. I'll never forget those people as long as I live and if anyone else does, they should be ashamed of themselves. Even today, I look back at 9/11 and even when I'm overcome by our often-times petty and materialistic society, I remember that we as Americans may not be perfect, but we're there for each other when it really counts. And I could not be more proud of that fact.
So on this day, I remember, and raise a glass to the heroes, the victims, and the heroes who became victims.