I think I speak for most people when I say-- how has it been 10 years, an entire decade, since 9/11?
I still remember that day as vividly as I remember most yesterday's. 9/11 is one of those days in history that, if you were around and old enough to know what was happening, you'll never, ever forget.
You remember details.
Not just hazy, semi-formed details that begin to fade over time. You remember colors. Faces. What you were wearing.
You remember with startling clarity exactly what you were doing, where you were, and who told you, down the even the most minute detail, when you heard the news.
You remember your initial reaction, the words you said, and then the shock, fear, and disbelief as the news unfolded. You remember it as if it happened yesterday.
Me? It was my first day of classes my sophomore year of college. I was on my way to breakfast before my 10am class was supposed to start. It was a course called Taping Techniques. (Back then I thought I wanted to be an Athletic Trainer. Oh, how times have changed!)
I was walking around the front of my dorm building when one of my classmates, Kate F., stopped me by the side entrance and said, "Did you hear? The news? A plane...it just flew into one of the World Trade Centers."
I remember she had her hair braided in pigtails. I remember seeing her pigtails sway when she shook her head.
I remember thinking, "...huh? Stupid pilot. How do you do that?"
I remember simply saying out loud, "Wait...what?"
I thought it was a private air craft. I didn't know it was American Airlines Flight 11.
I didn't eat breakfast that day.
And I didn't have my first Taping Techniques class.
I followed Kate to my school's Lodge and congregated with my other Taping classmates. (The Lodge was the building where students could go to hang out, watch TV, order some late-night food, play some pool, etc.)
I remember the TV bolted in the top corner of the room and sitting in one of those standard, cushioned college-issued chairs with the uncomfortable wooden arms.
I remember the second plane hitting the tower and my Taping Techniques professor, Brian (I went to such a small school, we called our professors by their first names) uttering a long-drawn-out obscenity under his breath.
And I remember being glued to my seat, still not processing what was happening, unable to look away, afraid to see more. I just remember being riveted by what was going on.
And then the first tower fell. Some classmates didn't think it had actually collapsed. They thought it was an illusion from all the smoke. "No, it's still there. I can still see it."
And then I remember Brian saying, "No. It's gone. It's....gone."
My mother called me shortly after. She knew I was safe and sound, tucked away in New Hampshire far away from what was happening. But she still needed to talk to me. "Hey, Linds" was all she said when I answered my phone.
Even my father came home from work that day, and stayed home. For an apple farmer to come home on a Tuesday in the middle of harvest season is unheard of. Right then, that didn't matter.
The president of the college had a school-wide meeting on the quad at 2pm that afternoon. It was such a nice day. That's what most people will tell you when they talk about it-- it was one of those picture perfect, late-summer days. Blue sky. Warm sun.
It all seemed so...surreal.
I still haven't been to New York to see Ground Zero. My mom and sister drove over the George Washington Bridge mere days after the attacks on their way to Virginia and all they said was, "The smoke. It was like nothing you'd ever see. The smoke. Just rising up. It didn't stop."
There's so many things I remember about that day, it's impossible to get them all down here. But those memories will stay etched in my brain for decades. Even when I'm old and gray, I know, I'll still remember my first day of sophomore year, Kate F. and her pigtails, Taping Techniques, the lodge, the words we said, and how that uncomfortable chair felt as I sat in it, watching those planes, and the people of 9/11, on the television bolted in the corner of the room.
I'll never forget.
Where were you and what were you doing when you heard the news? Please share your story with us!