Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years ago

It was another ordinary day of teaching to do. I got to work at 8:45 so I could make copies and set up the classroom for the day's lessons. Two Spanish students had just returned from a trip to New York and had pictures with them. We saw them in Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and atop the twin towers. I thought about the times I had visited that rooftop platform, the view, the immensity of the humanity below. After two hours of grammar, we took a short break before the conversation workshop began. I had five minutes to run outside and smoke and run through in my head the activities I had planned for the next two classroom hours. I was pacing on the sidewalk when a taxi pulled up to the curb and dropped a young man off. He ran up to me and said:

"Did you hear about the twin towers? They're gone!"

"What? Why..."

"Two planes hit the towers and they collapsed!"

"Why are you telling me this, it's not funny."

"Seriously, man! I just heard it on the radio in the taxi. We're under attack by terrorists."

The young man ran off. I didn't know what to think. I thought he was just another crazy stalking downtown. Though he was in a taxi. Shit, I can't think about this, I've got a class to teach.

I went back upstairs and found all the students huddled around a radio, listening. My heart sunk. No, no no. And I sat and listened to the frenetic reports being aired. After an hour, we all talked about it. Some students weren't surprised, the US had it coming. The two Spaniards were stricken, their faces drained of colour. Mostly we all felt insecure, most of us far from our families (the students were from abroad) and the threat of further attack shook us all.

Finally, at 1pm, I left work and walked down Ste Catherine street dazed and saddened when I came upon a crowd assembled at the corner of Peel. A la Times Square, there was a large electric billboard above the intersection with CNN being broadcast. It was there that I saw the images come to life of what I had only heard about until then. For 45 minutes I stood there, sensing the sea change in the world, mourning. There was no sound, but the images were riveting.

Then I went home and watched tv just like the rest of the world. I kept thinking, "why do they hate us so much" and "what have we done to engender such hatred, and how can we repair it?" I mean c'mon, it takes two to tango.

In my weaker moments, I might have thought, "let's bomb the hell out of the arabs".

But mostly, I felt overwhelming sadness.

20 comments:

CoffeeDog said...

Yes, why do they hate us so much? Then look at what our govt has done to them in the past, the two-faced posturing to the Roi Du Jour over three, whoever has oil is our friend.

I remember that day vividly...

Hugs to you

Ed said...

I was eating breakfast and watching the Today show when they showed a plane crash into one of the towers. I thought OMG an air controller is going to get fired for this. Then as the camera was watching another plane crashed into the other tower. Then I thought this was on purpose. Who has Bush stirred up to hate us this much? The rumors started flying. They reported that several buildings in Washington had been destroyed. I felt so helpless and sorry for those directly envolved. The rumors were not all true but we will never be the same.

Sunshine said...

It was night time over here when we heard what was happening. I honestly thought we were watching a movie of bad taste. I stood there in front of the TV and tears started welling up when I realised what was happening was reality. I don't think I can ever forget that bone chilling sense of sadness.

Lemuel said...

I shared your almost paralyzing sadness that day.

It is the sadder to view our response.

toobusyliving said...

It's something I will never forget - and if I was an American I'd be madder still about the amount og global goodwill that was squandered in such a hurry.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe that was 5 years ago.

-Jason (DJRed)

Timmy said...

we all know why they hate us.

GayProf said...

Sadly, I am not sure that the world learned the lessons of 9/11 yet.

teh l4m3 said...

I was one of the last people to leave work that day (that very morning, the CEO had called a company-wide meeting to say that everyone except certain department heads were exempt from work for the day, but I stayed until about 1:00). Instead of taking the bus home, I just walked, sort of in a daze. I was amazed at how empty the skies were. How quiet Haight Street was. I mean, everyone was on a phone, but no one was talking. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for initiating this interesting discussion.

I posted my 9/11 experience on LJ this morning but think it's lost out in cyberspace.

Jane

dawn said...

Everyone has there story. Where they were, what they were doing. Weird that no matter what the story the emotions are all the same.

Sister Staceypatrick said...

I was caught between fear and disbelief for most of the day. I called my parents and my husband about a dozen times during the day - I think just to remind myself they were there, you know? It was a terrible day for everyone everywhere. I remember actually sitting in the office with my boss watching events unfold that morning and how both of us just stared dumbfounded as we watched first one tower crumble then the other. It was strangely surreal, you know?

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

There was NOTHING wrong with this thought 5 years ago today:

In my weaker moments, I might have thought, "let's bomb the hell out of the arabs".

We have as much right to anger as the rest of the world.

Em said...

Oh I just remember feeling so sad for those people. I spent a lot of time praying for balance for us all. And in a weird way I felt hopeful because I thought something that big would wake us all up. I was so certain that rational thought would be the only response that could be made to so much suffering.

It has been a rude wake up call. For me though -because I can see that somehow it has all gotten so much worse. The grief of watching politicians use that tragedy to consolodate power... the grief of watching my fellow citizens allow themselves to be herded by fear... the grief of an unprovoked war... all of this has colored my view of our chances of success for the future. It doesn't look that good for us, and in away I'm glad because who knows what stupidity is waiting around the next corner.

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

I think the main thing that changed was our illusion of invincibility was shattered. World governments have not democratized, but the ability to do violence has spread pretty smoothly across the globe. The Age of Empire is what died the day of 9-11.
And that horrible sunday night movie is some of the clumsiest Republican propaganda imaginable. But a lot of people bought it, and will vote Republican because of it.

Dantallion said...

I watched the towers collapse live on tv. The sense of shock and sadness I felt that day is pretty similar to what you describe.

What saddens me even more is that not only has the West not learned from this horrific tragedy, but we've done completely the other way - doing even more to provoke such attacks in the future.

Christ, we can be so stupid sometimes.

Doug said...

I was working from home on that day. After the first tower was hit, I had the TV on and saw the rest of it unfold as it happened. I'm not sure if that was a good thing for me or not.

epicurist said...

I keep thinking and wondering, how we as a species have come so far, just to destroy ourselves. We call ourselves the enlightened, intelligent species, yet I see little intelligence or enlightenment in the eyes of our leaders.

Anonymous said...

Why do they hate you so much?....aww geeze do i have to explain this all over again. OK i will. It all boils down to your ignorance of the rest of the world, never mind overseas; look to your neighbor in the north. You dont even know who the hell i'm talking about do you? You're going "uhhh Alaska?" duhhh. ok i'll tell you then - Canada, your friend who is right next door. We used to have to longest undefended border between two countries in the entire world. Not anymore; we've got guns now too! We have done sooooo much for you guys; 9-11, Katrina, and in all kinds of disasters large and small, we've been the first ones there to help. Did you know that? Do you have any idea of the many ways? Did it show on your tv the planeloads of Doctors and nurses and vets and policemen and firemen and all sorts of volunteers; did it show our entire country raising money for you in a million ways...Do you ever think of the impact these things have on us? Nope, you dont care. Were you then or even now aware that there was anyone from other countries that went down in those planes and buildings? Nope, you never heard of that, and you probably think the only people who were in LA when Katrina came were Americans. Did you know how much $ and manpower we sent, even though you guys shafted us out of 30 billion dollars in lumber tariffs? (BTW, WE WANT OUR MONEY BACK!) The reason is because you are so stuck on yourselves; proud to be an american and you know and care only about what goes on in YOUR country! You watch the news but its all filtered out with no mention of Canada or any other countries help. You havent got a fricking clue what we've done to help; you honestly think all the relief and money was from the U.S.and further more you dont care! That fact pisses me off big time. Maybe if you took some time to learn you'll clue in to why the rest of the world hates you. Start with asking yourselves this question - the planes that were in the air that fateful day....what happened to them? Where did they land? Who fed those thousands of people and looked after them? You dont know do you? You piss me off for not knowing. Google it then pass it on. Theres another country attached to yours; we're your friendly northern neighbor.(no, we are not somewhere below Mexico) Your pres. belittles us, calls our Prime Minister "Stevie" as a way to show his superiority, (you're asking yourself "whats a Prime Minister?" you tax our goods to death and never give us recognition for the help we give you. And thats just a simple little drop in the bucket, because i figured simple ignorant people needed a simple response to hopefully get you started on the learning lesson you all so obviously need.

Patricia said...

the memories are still so alive for everyone. it's the "where were you when they shot jfk?" question for a new generation. and yes. mostly, it's just so very, very sad.