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Discuss: The Tuesday That Changed Everything

When I was a senior in high school, there was a spoken word piece that played on the radio quite frequently called Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).  In it there was a line that said, “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.” 

September 11, 2001 was such a Tuesday.

I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to write about my experiences on 9/11 and my memories of the event.  I don’t.  

Like the vast majority of Americans, I watched 9/11 on a television screen from the relative comfort and safety of my couch.  It doesn’t mean that it affected me any less or that my memories are less valid, but there are people, many of them in this very city, who experienced the terror and the tragedy first hand.  Some of them lost friends and loved ones, and I would hate to give the impression that I think my experience can be measured on the same scale.

So, I thought that I would do something a bit different.

First, I’d like to refer you all to The New York Times, which is hosting an interactive project for the 10th Anniversary.  You can mark the exact place you were on 9/11 and express in 140 characters how you feel about that day or give a brief summary of what you were doing.  

It’s especially interesting to read the thoughts of the people who tagged themselves as being at or near Ground Zero.  I was especially moved by the man who said that he was walking to work near the towers when he missed the walk sign.  If he hadn’t had to wait for the light to change, who knows?

Secondly, it’s amazing to me that there are 5th graders sitting in class right now who won’t remember a thing about 9/11 except for what they read in history books.  Eventually, there will be a generation who “remember” 9/11 like I remember D-Day. 

Even more shocking is that there are adults who remember the events incorrectly.  Who have forgotten that there was a fourth plane in Pennsylvania or who think bin Laden was an Iraqi.  So if you want to brush up, The Times also has an extremely in depth history and profile of the events.

Lastly, I thought I might take this opportunity to introduce you to my hero, Rick Rescorla.  Rick was the head of security at Morgan Stanley, the largest tenant of the World Trade Center occupying 22 floors of Tower 2.  Thanks to his militant dedication to emergency preparedness and his bravery, 2,687 Morgan Stanley employees survived the attacks.  

Sadly, Rick was not among them.  He and several members of his security team were killed when they went back inside to find the eight Morgan Stanley employees who were unaccounted for.  A winner of the Silver Star and the Bronze Star in Vietnam, it simply wasn’t in his nature to leave a man behind.  His remains were never found.

You may leave whatever thoughts that you like in the comments or head over the NYT interactive board and leave your thoughts there.  

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  1. Ellen says:

    I was a sophomore at Holy Cross, in uniform, sitting in my ROTC class; I had signed my four year commitment the day before..little did I know how much my vow to serve my country would change…how much it would change the life of my fellow military friends.

    I remember our Captain being pulled out of the room, came back and brought us all to the lounge to watch what was unfolding on the news…walking around campus, seeing my classmates who's parents worked at the World Trade Center…sitting in the dining hall watching a friend of mine realize his father was one of the missing…I can never forget how peaceful and perfect that morning was before my whole life changed.

    September 9, 2011/Reply
  2. AK says:

    Hi Belle, this is why I like reading your blog..though I remember that day vividly and have family in NYC and DC, I can never pretend to have experienced what those who lived there (and PA) did. Thanks for an honest post.

    September 9, 2011/Reply
  3. M says:

    PROUD to be an American. Today and every day.

    September 9, 2011/Reply
  4. EC MD says:

    I was in medschool in upstate NY. We just stopped going to class, and 200 students crowded into the lounge, standing on tables so we could watch it unfold on a 13 inch TV. We watched the towers fall and two women, both of whom had parents who worked in the towers, started screaming uncontrollably. I cry easily, just thinking of that moment.

    I was like you. I didn't lose anyone I knew. I didn't feel the terror firsthand. But as the 10 year anniversary approaches, I have realized that all that emotion, all that terror and uncertainty, and deep intense sadness, are right below my surface. I am lucky. I did not experience 9/11 in such a way that I can't forget each day — most days I do. But in moments of reflection, it is all there, and will be, acute and piercing, for the rest of my life. The best I can do is rededicate myself to my values and beliefs as an American, to what it means to be an American, and work towards building a better society for all of us.

    September 9, 2011/Reply
  5. L says:

    Thank you for posting that article, it was a story I hadn't heard. What an amazing man and a real lesson for everyone.

    September 9, 2011/Reply
  6. Kim says:

    My husband had dropped out of college and was working for the gas company in the county in GA where he lived when 9/11 happened. Due to the events that day he went back to school, graduated with a Law Enforcement degree and is now a member of the Capitol Police force. It changed his life drastically and since I met him shortly after he moved to DC for his new job, without 9/11 I wouldn't have met him, we would have never been married and our daughter would not have been born this past June- so in that sense it changed my life as well.

    I was at college in my senior year at Virginia Tech and my mother along with many of my classmates parents- worked in the Pentagon. They all made it out safely thank goodness.

    Rick Rescorla is an amazing man, thank you for linking to that story.

    September 12, 2011/Reply