This post has been banging around inside my head for years. I don't mean it to be compared to the stories of luck and selfless heroism on that dark day. I mean it as a simple point of reflection a decade on.
I was in school at that time. My classmates were a multicultural mix from every corner of the world. I walked through the school doors and a friend of mine, a Baptist, told me that planes had crashed into the World Trade Center.
Perhaps I didn't hear him or perhaps I did and mentally corrected his words because I said: "The pilot is an idiot! How stupid do you have to be to crash into the biggest building on Manhattan?"
"It wasn't an accident," he said.
"What do you mean? How is it not an accident?" I asked in a flurry of similar questions. I was still not allowing myself to comprehend.
"Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. One in each Tower," he clarified.
-Two planes. -Not an accident.
I was still digesting this as I entered the crowded lunch room. On an old style CRT hanging in one corner CNN was showing the burning buildings. The two ill fated jets disintegrated on screen again and again. I watched in silence. I was stunned.
Some Muslims in the room were cursing America and Israel.
Before long we heard about the Pentagon crash.
Its an all out attack, I thought. Nobody knew how many more planes were being hijacked. Sky scrapers were being evacuated and commercial jets were being grounded.
When the buildings fell, all of our hearts sank, Muslim christian and atheist. The anti-American mumblings and curses that were so common pre 9/11 stopped then too.
"This means war," I declared to myself aloud. There was fear in the eyes of the anti-American Muslim men who were also just school mates. They knew it was true.
Another crash was reported and several flights were still missing. My friends and I got tired of the TV. CNN was in broken record mode and there was nothing new to learn. We searched the Internet for more news. For the first and only time in my memory it was mostly down. Error 404. Only FOX News was up. This was my first impression of them. They grossly overestimated the number of hijacked planes saying there were something like 36 possible airplanes that are in the air and aren't responding. 36 more flying bombs! The events of that day were so unbelievable that 36 more hijacked planes no longer seemed impossible.
We finally went to class and nobody could talk about anything else. I remember the professor saying "if the father went into Iraq, do you think the son won't?" He was talking about G. W. Bush and he nailed it. I didn't believe it but in hindsight I wasn't nearly cynical enough. Lesson learned.
Classes were cancelled early and I and the rest of the world went home to watch TV. It was the first day of the rest of my life as a news junkie and fierce conservative.
Its not so poignant and meaningful as some of the stories out there. I remember as if I lived it yesterday. I remember little things like the nasty aggressive drivers I faced getting to school that day as I drove obliviously listening to music on CD.
I remember being unable to sleep in our spare room that night. The conjunction of the Crescent Moon and Jupiter beat down on me like a hammer. It was the symbol of Islam, only false. Look up the night sky on September 11th 2001 in Vaughn. You will see what I saw. 10 years later and with Bin Ladin dead I think its ok to share it.
I only screened the movie Flight 93 a few days ago in fact. I couldn't bring myself to watch it before. Thinking about 9/11 used to make me seriously angry. The kind of angry that would probably be a crime to talk about. Enough time has passed now. I let myself watch it and it wasn't so bad. Only a few tears.
It was important to kill Bin Laden. It was true justice. The kind of justice that can never be found in a courtroom. Justice for Bin Laden, and the two wars fought as a result of the evil events of 9/11 allow me to sleep peacefully these days. I mourn the victims of 9/11 even though I never met them. I mourn the troops of many countries that have fought and died for our security, peace and justice. The mourning is less painful when we are victorious at the end.