Agreed – good post. I was in high school when Kennedy was killed. I don’t remember being inside the building, but I’m certain we were told what had happened, because we were released, and everyone knew. What I remember vividly is the mass of students walking across the school grounds on their way home early. It was an overcast, dreary day anyway, but that only added to the somber mood. I remember turning around, and I have a snapshot view in my mind of so many students in loose groups or just by themselves, almost no talking – just stunned.
On 9/11 I was off that day, and we slept in, intending to just enjoy the day together and celebrate a significant event later that day. The phone rang, and one of our kids asked if we’d seen the news (we had not – hadn’t turned on the TV, just enjoying the quiet). At that point, only one tower had been hit. I had to believe it was a horrible accident, but something inside was worried it was not. Then #2 hit, and I have never been able to verbally describe the feeling(s) I felt at that moment, realizing we were under attack as a nation. And then the Pentagon, and the waiting for whatever else was to come. We were glued to the TV the rest of the day, like almost everyone else, but in our case, it was just the two of us. I’m sure we talked to some of our closest relatives, but I don’t recall anything except that first phone call. Finally, we decided we simply could not watch one more image of the 2nd plane going into the tower, or the images of the towers coming down, the white dust-covered people fleeing through the streets, the rolls of dust and smoke enveloping buildings and coming down streets. We were overloaded. We did not feel like eating, but hadn’t eaten all day, and decided we needed to get some food. We chose a steak house, hoping that perhaps it would just be quiet and we could be alone in our booth. Not a chance – every TV (and some not even normally out for use) was on – we could not escape it. I suppose we put some food down, but there was no enjoyment. Afterward we went to a nearby OfficeMax, and closed the place – just for something to do. It’s odd the things one remembers – and doesn’t. But the things that are remembered in events like that are burned into one’s brain.
I have a Hawaiian friend who was five years old when Pearl Harbor was hit. Burned into his brain is racing across fields with his mother and siblings to get away from their base housing at Pearl Harbor, hoping to get away from the bombing. He couldn’t tell you what happened last month in some cases, but that event is burned into his brain. And he rarely talks about it.
In a way, we are so fortunate in the U.S. 1941 and 2001 were the only external attacks in our modern history. Our geographic placement put us largely out of range – until now. But then we’ve also faced domestic incidents, such as Waco, OKC, Watts, etc. Still, we’re far more blessed than most, if not all other nations. We still (largely) have gun rights, unrestricted travel, a wide variety of food, somewhat decaying but still decent infrastructure, etc. As a former radio host titled his book years ago, “Pick a Better Country.” I don’t put down anyone else’s nation, because quite frankly I’m deeply saddened by ours going so far downhill, and inappropriately messing in others’ business. I just acknowledge and appreciate what I do still have, at least as long as we have it. But that’s why we’re all here.
I appreciate all of you and your contributions – from everywhere. I learn much from you, particularly about circumstances we only just read about here in the States. Thanks.