I have decided that since it’s the 10-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11, that I need to do a tribute post. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do this tragedy much justice, but I’ll try. I remember Toni Morrison’s tribute that was in Vanity Fair, I believe, in a commemorative issue and it was so eloquent and beautiful. I wish I could write like her.
So it was a normal day. I heard that the weather in New York was perfect and sunny that day with no clouds in the sky. I was going to school at Loyola Marymount University in LA. I was 19. I had my history class that morning at 8:15am and we were going to have a quiz. I woke up right at 6am, which is strange considering that that was 9am in New York and the time when the first plane hit the first tower. Was it intuition or something? I didn’t watch TV that morning so I had no idea what was happening. I showered and dressed and went to University Hall (the former Hughes Aircraft Building) and to the coffee shop downstairs for breakfast. When I was walking over, I overheard two construction workers, who were working on the new on-campus apartment buildings, talk about the first tower falling and something to do with increased surveillance at LAX. I must have been half-asleep because I thought they were talking about a communication tower at LAX being down. I had breakfast and went to class. I got out my notebook and then the fire alarm went off and a message blared over the intercom to evacuate the building. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. We all went outside and people decided to smoke, which they always did during fire drills. I didn’t appreciate it. After a few minutes, the security officers let us back in and our professor said class was cancelled. I still didn’t know what was going on.
I went back to my dorm and e-mailed my mom, who was on a cruise to Alaska, about the tower at LAX and class being cancelled. I then flipped back to the homepage and saw the photo of the towers. I thought for a moment it was from a movie and then quickly found out it wasn’t. I read the latest information and e-mailed my mom back the news. I never thought that that kind of thing could ever happen in real life and it still doesn’t make sense. Why would someone use passenger planes as bombs and attack office buildings? These were ordinary people minding their own business. Why would anyone do this to anyone!? I was lucky to not have lost anyone but a freshman at LMU lost his dad, who was a passenger on one of the airplanes. All classes were cancelled that day and some the next. I turned on the news to get the latest coverage and I desperately wanted to turn it off and undo what was happening. But I couldn’t change the channel without seeing the coverage. I had never before or since seen the same footage on every channel. I decided to write a very angry poem about these horrific events and I don’t know if I’ll ever share it. I found the terrorists’ actions to be unforgivable and I still do. They had no justification whatsoever and may God help me for what I don’t forgive.
My mom called me to make sure I was alright. I reassured her that I was safe, but I really needed my mommy. Peter Jennings helmed the special evening broadcast and in the midst of chaos was like a comforting uncle. He made me feel less afraid and I never even knew him personally. I was devastated when he died a few years later. They organized a memorial mass that day and being part of the church choir, I sang in the service. I would have loved to do a solo; it was the least I could do for those who died; but not being one of the chosen lead cantors, I wasn’t allowed. I haven’t yet been able to do a proper tribute. I thought up a musical but it never took shape. All I can seem to do is write about what happened to me that day. The one thought that kept going through my mind is the line from the ending song in Blood Brothers, “Tell me it’s not true/Say it’s just a story…” I didn’t want it to be real. I couldn’t cry that day; I don’t know why.
It seems to be thousands of years in the past and like it happened yesterday at the same time. I haven’t lost too many people and no one very close to me. All I know about losing someone special is that the pain doesn’t go away and time doesn’t always help. God bless us all and keep us from harm.