The Road to 9/11

 Nationsmith writer K. David reminisces on where he was on that fateful day.

It was on September 11, 2001 four jetliners were high-jacked into becoming improvised weapons of terror. Of the four, three successfully made contact with their targets: the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The last plane crash landed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, likely through the heroic intervention of its passengers.

  9/11 was a day of infamy where the skies over New York City were scorched with fire, the Twin Towers were toppled, and within its ruins the smell of jet fuel, blood, and sweat tainted the air. That day nearly three-thousand people perished. History would record it as the most devastating attack against civilians in American history.

I.

 For my generation of Americans, it was a day that will be forever singed into our collective consciousness. Ask anyone where they were, what they were doing, or how they felt that fateful morning and your answers would be vivid, almost photographic. Americans never forget.

 On 8:36 AM, September 11, 2001 time and space froze for many Americans. This is my 9/11 story.

 It was a typical Tuesday morning; I had woken up to do the required readings for my High School AP Western Civilizations class.

 When the first plane made contact with the N. WTC tower, I wasn’t aware of anything happening. My focus was that morning was reading about the Peloponnesian War. Immediately as the news started broadcasting about the first contact, my mom alerted me to turn on the TV.

 Was it a small plane? I had thought. It must certainly have been a small plane. The thought of what happened was ludicrous and unfathomable.

 At 9:03 AM, a second plane crashed into the South Tower of the WTC. Not even completely processing the news of the first plane crash, I had to immediately register the thought of the second plane crash, which led to feelings of anger and confusion.

 Who were the ones responsible for this crime? At that moment, I had hardly thought that what was happening was an act of war or my generation’s “Pearl Harbor”.

 At 9:37 AM, the hijackers of Flight 77 made contact with the Pentagon complex. At that point, I knew what was happening was history in the making. I had given up reading about someone else’s history and instead started to think about an event that was going to have a direct impact on my history.

 The South Tower collapsed at 9:59 A.M.

 At 10:03 AM, Flight 93 crashed into the ground near Shanksville, PA.

 The North Tower collapsed at 10:28 A.M.

 For the first time since the Attack on Pearl Harbor, we were at war, I had thought. The world has truly gone on fire.

 In the end, I had plenty of questions. We had not known the true nature of the adversary, of what they wanted, or why they committed their act of terrorism.

 Why would anyone hate America?

 Later that afternoon, my Western Civilization teacher had tried to help make sense of what had happened. Obviously, the plan to deliberate about the Peloponnesian War was scrapped.

 My history teacher was a well-educated, liberal minded Berkeley man who prided himself on knowing much about everything. When asked about what was happening, he stood silent and unmoving, and somberly murmured under his breath, “I don’t know.”