Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 Years Later: My Reflection on 9/11

We all have our memories of September 11th 2001. I still feel its gravity, even 15 years later and from 3000 miles away. In 2001, I was young, ignorant, and scared.

I remember while walking to school I stopped at Chico’s corner, a corner coffee shack about a block away from my house. Daniel worked there, and I had a crush on him. As I walked to the entrance, I saw Daniel sitting on one of the bar stools, his short dark curly hair springy, and in full view as his head was down, in his hands. 

I'd never seen that look on his face - dejected, distant, questioning. I asked him what was wrong, and he told me a plane flew into the World Trade Center. I asked what that was. He told me a big building in New York. Daniel was cultured, had traveled, and was so smart. 

I had no idea what the World Trade Center was. I figured it was a building Daniel had been to and was sad it had been damaged.  I couldn't figure out why he was so upset. This was another reason to like him, so caring and empathetic. 

I finished walking to school feeling dumb, and wishing I had traveled so I could know big, important buildings, too. That was the big thought of the morning for this 17 year old junior in high school.

When I got to school, it felt off. The air was dense, the mood somber, and quiet. Did everyone know about this big building on the other side of the country, too? The news was on. That was weird.  It was on in every class room. 

Another plane had hit the other tower.  

This building, these buildings, were not just important to Daniel, but everyone. and, wait, it wasn't a freak accident? What is going on? The teachers looked stiff, frightened, students confused, or scared, many were crying. What the hell is going on?

There was a loud P.A. announcement,  crackling into the television induced silence: “Please conduct classes as scheduled.  Only History or Econ classes should have TVs on. Once again, the news should only be on in History, or Econ classes. Thank you.” 

I was in algebra 2. The TV stayed on, all eyes glued. They couldn't be serious, no one was going to turn away from the horror unfolding.

I has started to cry, more from confusion over what it could all mean. The class room was dark, the main light source the horrific images on the TV screen.  

I don't remember who it was that tapped me on the shoulder, someone not in my class, someone who handed a pink slip to my teacher, and told me it was urgent I come with them to the office. The hall was dead silent, oppressively so. My mom was sitting in an uncomfortable, hard plastic chair. I started to cry in earnest. I knew why she was there, but she refused to tell me.  I had to wait for my brother, a freshman, to join us.

I had just seen on TV the Pentagon was hit.

My father worked in the Pentagon.

It felt like 10 years before my brother rounded the corner, into the office lobby. He had been across campus. My mom told us then: your father was in the Pentagon. He is safe. He made it out, unharmed. 

The confused relief I felt made me cry harder.

I say confused because I have never really had a relationship with the man I call “George Sr” or “the father figure”, he has not been Dad, or Father. 

I didn't want anyone to be hurt, or to die, no matter that I knew them or not. Not the poor, poor people I witnessed falling from 80 stories up on the television, not the man I felt so alienated by. And I did feel alienated, and unwanted. I didn't want him either, but I didn't want him dead, certainly.

I don't remember the rest of that day, aside from that heart in your stomach, stomach on the floor feeling, empty and throbbing.

I knew I was one of the lucky ones, to not have lost a loved one, or in my case, a distant relative I felt I should have been closer to. 

In the following months, I went to a few anti-war protests, in Sacramento, and San Francisco.  I went to rallies here in Santa Rosa where many traded stories of who they lost, or how they were close this massive event so far away from us. Everyone knew someone connected to this. 

We are all connected by the events of September 11, 2001.

I never thought of myself a overly patriotic.  I am grateful for my freedom, as a person, and a woman. 

It wasn’t until this attack that I felt pride in my country - as a community of caring and compassionate people, who would work together to pick up the pieces, and still help others in need. 

To this day, if I see anything about 9/11, or really think about it, the little hairs on my arms stand on end, I feel a chill, and a stinging in my eye, foretelling tears.

15 years ago, I was young, and ignorant. I was afraid for all the wrong reasons. I was still deeply effected by 9/11. I still am.

Feel free to share your memory, and show how even though we may not know each other, we are still all connected, somehow.


  1. Hi Jennifer, Well written! Thanks for sharing your 9/11 memories. I was 15 when President Kennedy was assassinated and I was at school, too. Just as I have memories of that terrible day and the 3 days afterwards where we were all glued to the TV to see the alleged assassin murdered on live TV and then the funeral I'm sure you'll remember 9/11/2001. I will also remember 9/11 but when something this momentous happens when you're a teen I think it stays with you always.

  2. I remember that day all too well. I was 19....been married for almost a year and had a newborn baby in my arms. I was so scared...I watched the second plane hit on live TV and was just in absolute shock! I live in PA...and when I heard about the plane that came down in our state I was terribly frightened ~ I thought they were crashing them everywhere! It was a scary time...truly. I remember just shaking for most of the day. Sometimes I will watch the videos on youtube...just because I never want to forget the gravity of that's so easy to just continue on with life...but that tragic day happened and none of us should ever forget.

  3. Yes, most everyone remembers that day. I was at work in an office store and someone came running in saying something relatively incoherent about planes and buildings. Only a few minutes later, I learned the truth of what happened and became fearful, confused, and upset. Later that evening, as I traveled home, I just remember being so shocked and confused, unsure of what anything meant, the state of the world, and all the people who were there.

  4. seems like both forever ago, and yet almost yesterday. truly a day that none of us will ever forget. #waywow

  5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about that horrific day. There are few who don't remember exactly what they were doing when the events of that day unfolded. I enjoyed reading your thoughts as a young woman on that day.

  6. This was a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life.

  7. Hey Jennifer. This was a beautiful story. Everyone experienced something different and the same that day--loss, sadness, confusion and even frustration. We may have all been in different places, but we became one on September 11th...and you're right. 15 years later, the gravity of it all doesn't wane. Thanks for sharing this with us on #shinebloghop today.

  8. What a great post on the most tragic day in our current history. You handled it beautifully. I think no matter our ages, we were all young and naive on that day. It is a mind crushing day. And we are here to speak of it. #BloggersPitSTo[

  9. It was a terrible moment that we will never forget! I was upstairs in my bedroom when my hubby called from work and told me to turn on the t.v. I could not believe what I was seeing. So many lives lost and lives shattered that day! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  10. Thanks for sharing your beautiful and emotional story. Strange how adversity can make us stronger, individually and nationally.

    Blogger's Pit Stop

  11. I was in the car driving my son to school. I was getting him ready before we left, the television wasn't on, we were spending our time together and scurrying around so we wouldn't be late. In the car we chatted, the radio wasn't on. I dropped him at school and my cell phone rang, it was my sister calling. I answered and she was crying. I had no idea what was going on. I had to pull over. I rushed home and turned on the television, watching in shock and horror.

    One of my friends was on a flight to New York. For hours they flew around the city and witnessed many terrible things that happened that day.

    This event did bring America together, but it is so sad that it took something of this magnitude to unite us again. I imagine that this is what the US felt when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I hope that we remember. That we unite and stand together, this is something that we should never forget.

  12. How difficult for you, especially as your father worked in the Pentagon! I live in the UK, so watched the events with horror from afar. My son was nine, and I remember all his questions and my fears for his future. We have so many friends in NYC and surrounding areas, it was a very scary time. I'm very grateful they were all okay. About a year later, my family visited the site of the World Trade Centre - it was my first visit to New York City. It really did affect us all. Thank you for sharing this moving post with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop.

  13. Thank you all for your responses, and a bit of your own stories. This brought us t9gether, and I hope as many of you do that we will continue to stay strong together as a nation, and beyond.

  14. Jennifer, I am going to feature this post on the Blogger's Pit Stop on Friday. Congratulations for sharing your story.

    Bloggers Pit Stop

  15. Such a powerful post! I don't really remember it that clearly as I was only 11 or so - I know I found out at school, as rumours started spreading at lunchtime. I remember being really scared next time we flew by all the police with guns. (I'm in the UK so had never seen that before!) Thanks so much for sharing at #FridayFrivolity.