by William Mac
Sept. 11, 2007
When I was younger than I am now my parents would tell me about the day Kennedy was shot. They would tell me that everyone in the entire nation remembers where they were and what they were doing that very moment. My mother said that she was allowed to go home from school so that she could watch the news unfold on the television as the footage was played over, and over again, driving into the mind’s of the American people that this was indeed the end. Other people told me that televisions were wheeled into the classrooms as the children sat upright and open-jawed staring at the final death rattle of the American Dream. I just thought it was cool that my Mom got to go home, and I thought that it would perhaps be nice to stare blankly at the television during school instead of having to do work. I was young. I was young and I didn’t understand what the big deal was. Lincoln had been shot, and I’m still here…. Kennedy had been shot, and I’m still here. There was a Revolutionary War, a Civil War, two World Wars, a Vietnam War, a North Korean War, a Cold War, and a Gulf War– but I’m still here. Besides – I mused as a young boy – things like that don’t happen anymore and the most we get is O.J.
I’ve never been one to perform heartfelt eulogies in my mind during forced contemplative remembrances and National moments of silence. But, regardless of how strong and un-emotional I would like to paint myself as being… 9/11 still gets me every time. Just like my parents’ exact remembrance concerning Kennedy, I found myself on that day – September 11, 2001 – sitting in Coach Black’s Health class in trailer C4 at 9:30 AM when the burly Coach quickly jumped up from his computer and turned on the T.V. just in time for me to see two tall buildings – which had never previously concerned me – transformed into chimney stacks. Suddenly, as a freshman at North Gwinnett High School in Georgia, being able to watch T.V instead of do work was not as fun as I had previously thought it would be.
I was not released from school the day America became castrated, like my mother had been permitted to do during Kennedy’s assassination. The principal’s voice came over the intercom and told all of us that we had nothing to fear… after all, New York was all the way up there where it’s cold and people don’t talk to each other, and we were way down here where it’s warm and friendly. Surprisingly enough, I don’t remember particularly caring about what I had just seen on the television. As a 14 year old, I didn’t even know what in the hell the “Twin Towers” were. Throughout the day I would hear various things; a helicopter crashed into the Pentagon, which was nothing more than a shape to me; another plane crashed in a field somewhere, which is something I still didn’t particularly care about. Life in High School carried on normally, and so did the bus ride home. Yet, upon stepping out of the bus that day I did realize one very important thing: it was the quietest day I had ever heard in my entire life. There were no airplanes, there were no cars beeping or driving around on the highway near the house. All was silence, the most complete and eerie silence imaginable. That is when it struck me…up in New York, and in two other locations, things were very loud, and people were dead… and life wasn’t going to be the same for a long time.
So here I am at 21 years old, six years later. It’s another 9/11 anniversary, and I overslept the memorial services on television. In fact, I didn’t even think about the fact that today was 9/11 until I began seeing all of the reruns on the tube. You know, the ones they show every 9/11. Yet, I couldn’t resist writing about it. I feel as though it is my duty as an American to remember this day, and remember it serenely, and remember it reverently, and remember it patriotically.
Regardless of the countless conspiracy theories, the ensuing wars, the initial peak of tiny-American-flags-on-a-stick sales, followed by its steep drop (only to be sacked by anti-war bumper sticker sales), and the American people’s disdain and fear and discomfort in this post 9/11 world, this anniversary day is one in which all people can agree with each other in quiet, reflective patriotism towards the atrocities endured on September 11, 2001. I still do not understand what happened that day, and I can scarcely recall life before the event… although it was an easier time. Likewise, I’m not quite sure I understand what is going on even today, but I’ll sing with all of my might, and all of my strength “God Bless America” simply because it’s my duty, and a duty I take pride in. Selah.