Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Was I?

It was the second week of grade 10 for me ten years ago. I had just come from my first period English class and was headed to the first floor for second period History. There was a four minute window that you had to get from one class to another and while other students were entering I saw another teacher come in and say to my teacher if he had heard about a plane that flew into the World Trade Center.

Even though I had no idea what was going on, it immediately caught my ears however after a few moments I quickly dismissed it. Probably just some two-seater plane with an amateur pilot who had trouble and made a deadly collision. Tragic but nothing extreme, I thought.

Once that period was over it was time for lunch. I made my way to a pay phone to call my dad because he was to pick me up for lunch and at the time he had about as good a memory as his grandmother does today.

"Dad, you're supposed to pick me up today, remember?"

"Andrew, I'm sorry, I forgot. I've been watching the news. Do you know what's going on?"

"No, what?"

"Terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center. Both towers are gone!"

I suddenly got a flash of these two large towers on fire, being destroyed in the middle of a metropolis. This was something that happened in Tom Clancy novels and bad movies. As I waited outside for him to come pick me up I could hear more and more students suddenly talking about it.

As soon my dad pulled up I got in and we raced home, listening to news updates on the radio and once inside, watching it all unfold on television. A plane had flown into the Pentagon and another airplane had crashed somewhere in America. The endless loop of the second plane hitting the second tower and their final collapse was searing itself onto my brain. Constant flashes of "America Under Attack" sent a sickening feeling through my body.

I never expected to hear those words. In my life the words "Under Attack" was something that happened to Federation Starships or characters in a Schwarzenegger movie. You just never expected it to happen in real life.

I can't remember what I had for lunch (Or if I ate anything) or the rest of that day. However I do know when I first became interested in the world around me. Before then I had my sights on place: Hollywood. I wanted to be an actor and make movies for a living. But suddenly my life took a dramatic turn. I wanted to know what was happening in the world all the time. I started paying a lot more attention to American politics.

Before that, my generation never really had a "Where Were You When" moment. The closest we ever got to that was when Bill Clinton went on TV and admitted that he had lied about Monica Lewinsky. But there was never anything that got our attention and maintained it for a long time. Never something that shook us and changed us, whether or not we were aware or willing to admit it.

I remember being in one of my first days of college for journalism and leaving the Politics class. I can't remember what we discussed but I know that I talked a lot throughout it, like most of my classes and that the date was September 11, 2007. We had just come out and another student remarked to me, "Hey, you know a lot about politics."

"Yeah," I answered. "I've been interested in politics for the past six years."

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