Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where were you?

It was the beginning of the school year in southern New Hampshire. The leaves hadn't busted out in full color quite yet, although the birch had started to turn yellow (they always seem to turn first) and the maples had begun to get orangey, on their way to red. I was 14 and in my Spanish class, which my sister, a senior, took with me. Sr. Turner had a tv in the room, maybe we were going to be watching a video that day or maybe it was for a different class. It was 8:50 AM. His desk phone rang and the laugh lines around his mouth fell as he listened to the voice on the other end. He hung up and announced that we were going to be watching the news instead, "Something has just happened in New York."

We knew he'd hit the right channel when live footage of the North towers popped onto the screen. There was smoke coming out of it. We had just missed the first plane crash. The class next door came in and we all watched silently as, a few minutes later, a second plane was shown on the camera. It flew right into the South Tower. We watched from our picturesque New England township as fall was blooming around us. A couple more classes came into the room to watch. The tv went to the Pentagon, where another plane had crashed. The anchors asked viewers, "Could it be related?" In retrospect, that seems like a really big "Well, no crap" assessment. The bell rang to change classes but nobody moved.  We watched as the towers fell with split scenes to Pennsylvania where the fourth plane had crashed in a field. We watched the great cloud of brown smoke, ash, and debris as it buffeted down the narrow New York City streets, enveloping cars, buildings and people like some kind of cloud monster absorbing everything in its path.

My sister started crying and I wasn't sure why. She said she was afraid her boyfriend (who had recently enlisted) would have to go fight the people who were responsible. I couldn't tell you what happened for the rest of that day. I don't know what I ate for lunch, or if I had the stomach to eat. My sister turned out to be right, but by the time her boyfriend deployed their relationship had fizzled and dissolved, as teenage relationships often do.

I felt terrible for the people who lost someone they previously had never had to think about living without. I was outraged and like most Americans at the time, I plunged head first into support for our troops. They went to fight, avenging the innocent who had died, the children who would have to grow up without a parent, the parents who had to bury their child. Our nation moved on and for me, it was too quickly. People took the yellow ribbons off the trees in their front yards. The American Flag magnets on car bumpers were replaced with 2004 and 2008 presidential campaign stickers. Soldiers, sailors, and airmen were forgotten or even harassed for serving as the War against Terrorism lasted longer than the American majority expected (what war is won in a few years time?). This past year Osama Bin Laden was finally brought to justice by our troops.

Now, ten years later, I'm 24. My husband turns out to be my sister's old boyfriend's brother. We have Adam, a seriously crazy almost two year old, and a little baby blob we just discovered in my belly. And I still support the troops, heck, I'm married to one.

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