Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where were you?

Six years ago today around 9am, I was driving into downtown Atlanta, going to work at SafeHouse Outreach. A local rock station, 99x was doing their typical, un-funny schtick about this or that, then they described something they had just heard over the wire. For a few seconds, after reporting that a plane had hit the world trade center, they speculated that it was surely a hoax or mis-information, or at worst, a incompetent pilot. Realizing quickly that they were in over their heads, they piped in audio from CNN.

A 2nd plane had hit, and the situation now seemed too calculated for careless airmen...I pulled into the SafeHouse parking lot on Ellis street and dashed upstairs. The few of us there gathered around a small black and white television as the drama unfolded. Wide-eyed, we held our breath with the world as the towers billowed smoke. When the first tower fell, then the second, some cried, others prayed aloud and I think we were scared. Truthfully, time has faded the distinctive memory of my emotion.

We ran to the windows of the 2 story brick building, gazing between skyscrapers all around us to check the skies...
Our director called some contacts around the city to find out if Atlanta was in danger. Eventually, like most others that day, we were told to go home: whether for fear, shock or just to be with family or friends.

As I drove north on the same highway I had peacefully driven down only a few hours before, I realized that everything was different now. I glanced at one of the big DOT alert signs that usually signal traffic jams or delays...it just said "National Emergency...National Emergency." I wept...finally, the emotion of the morning swept over me and I blinked back tears all the way to my sister's house. I couldn't be alone.

That was the morning of 9/11...it was followed by countless audio and video clips, talking heads, newspaper articles, memorials, dinner-table discussions, prayers, masses...
9/11 has become for my generation another "Where were you when..." moment, joining the Challenger explosion, and maybe even the OJ verdict. What other 9-11 memories or other "where were you when?" events am I forgetting?


Matt said...

First of all, Happy Birthday!

Second, on a more somber note, it's amazing how 6 years have passed and hearing all these 9/11 stories still gives me goosebumps. I'll never forget sitting in the student center at Berry watching the TV with about 200 other people when the buildings fell. I sat there, mouth hanging open, as the CNN anchor just stepped out of the picture and was silent for about 2 minutes as the camera just focused on the rubble and smoke...no sound in the student center but a collective "gasp". Still hard to comprehend even all this time later.

Jen said...

Hey girl... It was 3 months after our Furman graduation, and I was in Baltimore MD, scheduled that very day to do an interview in Washington, DC. Needless to say, the interview didn't happen... but I eventually found a job up there and made the big move... and then came back to my Atlanta roots 14 months later!

Andrew said...

I was just starting my senior year at the University of Kentucky. As I was about to hop on my bike and go to class, my roommate stopped me and told me to watch a small bit on the news about an airplane hitting a building in NYC. This was before anybody knew what was happening or what was about to happen. I think my roommate made a lame joke about the pilot. Just after I returned from class about an hour and a half later, a hysterical friend called me and told me what was going on. I felt so sad and helpless...all I could do was sit and pray and cry and watch television.

A week or so later I had a soccer game at Southeast Missouri Univ. On the 6 hr ride there I must have seen 10,000 US flags; they were on houses, cars, storefronts and anywhere else you can imagine. The powerful sense of togetherness that followed the attack is something else that I'll never forget.

Rachel said...

hi there,
i was drying my hair when my mom phoned... always connecting me to the larger news of the world. i quickly turned on the tv and then rushed to Furman for a (partial) icee giveaway which felt so dumb given the circumstances.

that night, unknown to me, doug asked for my parents' blessing at their home in charlotte (he decided nothing would stop his plans), and we were engaged 3 days later.

another infamous event
"i did not have sexual relations with that woman."
not the same impact as the others certainly... but i think we were all affected- realizing our leaders weren't perfect. they never have been, but it had never been so much in our face before.

Mark Horner said...

Hey Katie. Check on my blog on the same subject...