I had been married for almost a full year. I was on my way to the University of Utah for my second third semester in Ancient Greek and an Ancient Greek studies class, when I turned on NPR and heard the news. A plane had hit one of the towers at the World Trade Center. I immediately thought it was a terrorist group, but didn't immediately think about which one it could have been. Then I heard about the second plane, and one that hit the Pentagon. I was speechless. We took some time to talk about it, then got back to work translating our material. Now, I didn't have any friends or family at Ground Zero at the time, but I was still devistated. I felt for my fellow Americans in New York as much as I would have if it happened here in Salt Lake City. Because I knew there would be families impacted dramatically. And I got angry.
Days after I heard about dancing in the streets in Palestinian cities. I hadn't been partial to one side or the other on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but that engraged me. But then I heard Yasser Arafat send his condolences, and talk about how terrible it was that so many innocent people had lost their lives. Immediately I had respect for that man, and appreciated his comments. But I was still angry, and more angry that I didn't have an outlet: someone on whom to focus my desire for justice.
The Red Cross started petitioning for donations and blood. Thousands were lining up to help. Canada hosted many Americans that were delayed on their borders do to the no fly zone. A fellow student in my Ancient Greek prose class mentioned a call she fielded at Morgan Stanley about a gentleman who was upset that the New York Stock Exchange was not trading. She had to tell him to turn on the news to explain why.
As the days went by, we as a nation found someone to blame: Osama bin Laden, now buried at sea after his positive identification. We then went through a period of unity, unlike anything I could remember. Both sides of the political spectrum started working together. President George W. Bush, who I had almost written off as a one term president for his lack of action, all of a sudden became animated and took the helm and rode this unity into a war against the Taliban, and eventually against Iraq. Right or wrong (and I'm not saying either), we found an outlet.
Things have changed since that day, and right or wrong, our lives are not the same. Sure, we still go to work, we still eat lunch, go to movies, watch TV at night, or play with the kids, but we do so with the knowledge that someone hates us all so much that they would do anything to try and kill as many of us as possible. Aniversary days, like this decade from the September 11th attacks, become a time of baited breath, as more attacks are expected.
What's interesting is that these feelings never seem to go away, though I don't walk about with the same anger that I did. I found that out when London suffered their July 7th attacks in 2005. Again, I don't have family (at least not close family) in London, or even in England, nor do I have any friends that live there. But they were people who just wanted to go to work, and they were attacked. Britain had their September 11th experience that day, and we in the US knew exactly what they were feeling.
I don't think I will ever forget that day. The feel of the car as I turned onto the freeway, right when I heard the news. I don't think I will forget my shock. And I don't think I'll forget, nor do I want to forget, the overwhelming feeling of goodwill I had for everyone in the United States on that day.