10 Years of Remembering
May 2, 2011 § 2 Comments
I was 15 years old when the Towers went down. Bleary-eyed and eating a bagel. My mom didn’t let me sleep in that morning. I had too much school work to catch up on.
The phone rang. A message from the local homeschool group: “The World Trade Center has been hit by an airplane and the Pentagon is on fire.” I stopped chewing my bagel. My parents and I crowded around the phone, waiting for the punchline: “Coming up in Tim LaHaye’s new Left Behind book!” But it never came. Instead, the TV went on, just in time for us watch the south tower fall live on ABC.
This wasn’t a promo for apocalyptic literature. This was real terrorism in my lifetime on American soil. Surreal. I watched hours of coverage of New York as an ash-covered ghost town. The last television image I remember is the twisted iron rubble of Ground Zero with a tattered but intact American flag on a bent and crooked pole in the foreground. The flag was still there… I called my high school boyfriend who lived in Oregon and we talked about how the terrorists finalized their plans and were flying on airplanes to their destinations while we had talked about school work, our future, and other trivialities at the same time the night before.
I was 17 years old when George W. Bush declared war on Iraq to take out Saddam Houssein. Fifteen minutes outside of the White House at a 4H camp for the National Young Leaders Convention. We were learning about government operations through mock Congress exercises while the real government declared war a few minutes down the road from where we thought we were safe.
The former President “interrupted this scheduled programming” during our ice cream social. Amid air hockey, pool, sundaes, and small talk in the rec room, someone changed the channel from a re-run of Friends and the room went silent. There may have been an announcement made over the din first. I recall the words “President” and “war” shouted by someone before the national address took over. All several hundred of us crowded around the biggest television in the room. I got a front row floor seat and hugged a girl I had just made friends with the day before. I don’t remember President Bush’s address because the whole time I was thinking, “Fifteen minutes away. This is all happening fifteen minutes away.” I thought about calling my parents. Maybe I did.
My roommate and I kept the television on in our room, falling asleep to coverage of air strikes in Iraq lighting up the screen, both of us joking about Saddam getting stuck in the bathroom while a bomb drops on his head, that bastard.
Tonight, I sat on the couch in my Philly apartment with my boyfriend, using our laptops side-by-side. I gave up television for Lent this year, then canceled my cable subscription to save money. I haven’t had the TV on in my apartment for over a month. Three consecutive Facebook posts told me something was going on:
“It’s about time.”
“Osama bin Laden is dead. What this means for YOUR gas prices, tonight, on the news at 11.”
I clicked “Like” on the second one, turned to my boyfriend and said, “Osama bin Laden is dead,” into the otherwise dead air of my apartment.
Someone posted a link to the White House stream for President Obama’s announcement. I loaded it and waited and Googled news sources and waited. I read the Facebook reactions of my friends while we all waited.
Now it’s after 2 a.m. MSNBC has been streaming on my laptop since the President’s announcement that Osama bin Laden is dead and we have his body. The Boy went to bed, then got back up again. I’m still glued to the streaming news analysis. And I remember. I will always remember.
“Where were you on the day…”