Sunday will mark the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, better known simply as 9/11. There will be memorial events held here in San Jose, throughout the nation and even outside the United States, as the 3,000 men, women and children who lost their lives that day from terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93 are honored. Also to be honored are those who risked their lives responding to the attacks, and the men and women serving in wars overseas.
Every generation has its “where were you?” moment, when something monumental happened and in the blink of an eye a person can recall exactly what he or she was doing. For some, it might be V-J Day, or the moon landing, or the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Or, maybe more regional, it could be the Loma Prieta earthquake. (I was living in Missouri at the time, so it barely registered on my radar.)
But on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I know exactly what I was doing when a plane ripped through the first of the twin towers. I was sleeping on my couch in a disgusting apartment not far from my college campus. A friend of mine had no place to stay and was sleeping on the floor in the same room. Cell phones were just becoming the norm, and it’s a good thing my friend had one. He received a call from his mother, who said a bomb had gone off in the World Trade Center.
He relayed the news to me and I said, “Again?”
I assumed it was on the same scale as a bombing at the WTC during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Being the lazy college student that I was at the time, I shrugged and went back to bed.
It wasn’t until more calls started coming in, one after another, that my friend and I realized we had better find a house with a television. The rest of the day, I was glued to the screen like everyone else in the country. I felt ashamed that I had been sleeping the whole time the attacks were happening.
The television footage was shocking, frightening and produced a unified sense of anger that this act should not go unpunished. How the country has exacted any revenge or justice is in the eye of the beholder. Osama bin Laden is dead now, and the country seemed to exhale a small sigh of relief with news of the terrorist’s death. A new threat has been reported for this Sunday as “credible, but not confirmed,” so security levels will certainly be high in New York city and other major metropolitan areas.
Let’s hope the day goes by without incident. The 10th anniversary is an important milestone in the healing process for Americans, who are never as unified on any issue as they are about being respectful to those who died or lost loved ones on 9/11.
There’s no real grand message to impart here, just an invitation to offer any thoughts you might have on what happened that day 10 years ago and where we are now.