Remembering 9-11 (Part 1 - Happenings)
I’m sure most people old enough to remember September 11, 2001 will recall exactly where they were and what they were doing the moment the news broadcasters started covering the story and the headlines flashed across the screen saying “Breaking News,” or when the phone call came in from someone saying, “turn on the television -- an airplane just crashed into a tower in New York.” They probably also experienced shock and disbelief even after they heard it and saw it with their own eyes. It’s interesting that every generation seems to have their own special “happening” that gets their attention, teaching that life on planet earth can be very scary and challenging.
I’m sure it was that way when my Dad heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Remember, there was no television then, so the information came from the radio and had to be mentally visualized. I’m sure he had thoughts of protecting his 22-year-old wife and two-month-old baby boy. At that moment, he probably felt a lot older than his 27 years having already experienced his parents’ divorce and the great depression while in high school. So many questions and so many answers would be waiting in his future. On the positive side, he was a good carpenter, and his services would be needed as our country adjusted itself into a nation at war.
The next generation’s “happening” occurred on November 23, 1963 when we were told that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. I remember being in a booth at a college café called “The End Zone.” It was on the campus of the University of the Pacific, but students from the junior college I attended were allowed to use it. I don’t exactly remember who I was with, but I clearly remember sitting on the outside of the booth on the right side. That is an image forever etched in my mind. I clearly remember my shock and disbelief, “How could our president be dead? How could this happen?” He was so handsome and his wife, Jackie, so pretty.
Before the Kennedy assassination I didn’t pay attention to politics, I let my parents take care of that. I was 19, and in 6 months I would have my Associates in Arts degree. But I had no thoughts about my goals after graduation or the world I was about to enter. The week following Kennedy’s death was filled with many tributes. Our country needed to mourn, and after that, like many others, I started paying attention to the grim news being reported about Cuba and other Cold War Communist countries. There was no CNN then, no 24-hour news, and, of course, no internet and no cell phones. So my generation did not have to experience the constant bombardment of death news that was experienced after 9/11. We were still able to be somewhat naïve about the world.
Later this year, we will remember another generation's “happening” -- the 10th anniversary of 9/11 – the day our nation endured one of the greatest catastrophes in its history. The day four airplanes crashed into the towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington DC, and a rural field near Hankstown, PA. It was a day thousands died and even more were left behind grieving the loss of their loved ones. It was a day we had to face for the first time the depth of hatred that others in the world had for us as a society and for our political doctrines.
On 9/11, the world changed forever. It altered the way we do things, and the way we live our lives. On that day, a career I had enjoyed for 37 years would be changed drastically. In upcoming articles, I will talk more about the profound impact this day had on my life. I hope you readers will join me for this journey of remembrance about 9/11 and its aftermath.