As my fellow OCN blogger Chipp wrote, September 11, 2001, is one of those days that will forever be burned into my personal internal HDD, so to speak.
I remember I was sleeping on the couch that day six years ago; my bed had already been moved to my rented room in Irvine, CA, where I was going to university. It was my last week of vacation before the Fall Quarter, so when my dad shook me gently awake with the TV on, I was a little annoyed.
"A plane hit the World Trade Center," he said somberly.
Whatever annoyance I felt melted away instantly when I saw the skyscraper on fire. I snapped to full wakefulness in record time, and I asked him if it was an accident, noticing right away that it was a clear day in Manhattan; surely no pilot could have missed that landmark. He said he didn't know, but that he had to leave for work.
Just as he said that, the second plane hit Tower 2. That moment, for sure, was when I felt what still is the most raw feeling of disbelief I have ever experienced in my life. I said to my dad, "That's no accident." A few seconds later, as we both stared at the television, I said quietly, "This means war."
I remember very vividly asking myself, "How can something like this happen?" It was something that was completely beyond the scope of my own imagination, the thought of deliberately flying two passenger airliners into a skyscraper. The Japanese kamikaze pilots I could almost comprehend; but for non-military people to do what I had just seen was completely beyond my ken.
Later that morning, still riveted to the television and before the Twin Towers even fell, I thought to myself that this is my generation's version of Pearl Harbor. It was a defining moment of history; no matter what happened next, nothing after this day's sunset was ever going to be the same. Unquestionably, everyone in this country was in for a lifetime's worth of pain.
My only wish was that it was a kind of pain that would not be protracted. Sharp yet brief pain is always better, in my opinion, than a persistent, throbbing pain that's ever-present in your consciousness.
When first one tower, then the other, collapsed to the ground in sickeningly quick time, all doubts of an ugly short-term future died. My only wish was that none of my friends who live in NYC were harmed directly by this disaster.
And so here we are, six years later. I often wish that I was wrong about many of the things I thought that day, that that whole day itself could have been some piece of corrupted memory in my mind. Alas, it was all too real.
It still is all too real.
(Written in respectful remembrance of the lives lost on September 11, 2001. May these losses be not in vain.)
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