9/11: Ten Years Later

I was dressed like a woman on 9/11.

That’s usually the first thing that comes to mind when people start talking about where they were and what they were doing when it happened. It was homecoming week; I was a high school Freshmen trying to win a costume contest. I had a padded bra, a wig, ear rings, makeup, the whole nine. I remember being in a great mood that day up until 4th period – history class.

I had been hearing about it all day – the first plane, the second, the Pentagon, and, living in a small Texas town, never having visited the East Coast in my life, all I was really thinking was, “Wow, that’s crazy.” Until 4th period. Mr. TeBeest had us watch CNN all period; I hadn’t watched any news coverage until then. “Aren’t we going to learn history?” one of the students asked. “This IS history,” Mr. TeBeest responded quietly. He looked shaken. I guess that was when it hit me, watching him, watching the news coverage. The room got really quiet, and I think I was the first one to break the silence after awhile. All I could say, with the overwhelming sense of fear, of shock, of anger, was “Oh my God.” Everything at that point felt so trivial, homecoming week, winning some dumb contest, everything.

Today, 9/11 is one of those events – our JFK, our Pearl Harbor. We’ve heard so much about it, we’ve seen the stock footage so much, we’re desensitized to it. We’ve forgotten how we felt that day. Usually when you talk about 9/11 now, you don’t really talk about the day, but what it led us to, economic crisis, two wars, etc. We talk about the lives lost, the heroism of police officers and firefighters and ordinary people. These are all great stories, but I feel like we’ve forgotten what we felt that day, that chill that went up your spine when you realized what exactly was going on, that undeniable fear. I think we lose a bit of perspective about why exactly 9/11 is still such an important day, even ten years later.

The most frightening movie I’ve ever seen isn’t a fictional horror movie, but a real-time documentary of the events of 9/11. It’s called 102 Minutes that Changed America. It’s showing this weekend on the History Channel and the Biography Channel, and you can stream it below. I encourage you to watch it, to remember, to put yourself in the shoes of the people that lived in New York that day. Sometimes, when we’re just watching a sky-shot of a building thousands of miles away on TV, we don’t get the true sense of what was arguably the most important day of our country’s life.

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