We all do “…where were you when…” if we’re talking historical events like when we landed men on the moon, the assassination of President Kennedy.
When Kennedy was shot I was 6-years-old. I remember something bad had happened and that my parents were very upset. I clearly remember being told I wasn’t allowed out to play those few days although no one really told me what was going on.
When we landed astronauts on the surface of the moon I remember watching it live on a small black and white television in my parent’s bedroom, the only one that had an air conditioner and it was summer as I recall and quite hot out.
The day of the tragedy of 9/11, I was at my job as news director of a health website called intelihealth.com. I was there early and the morning was nothing special. At some point in the morning a co-worker came into our “newsroom” area and told us that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. Now like most people I thought some pilot had gone off course or something or possibly suffered a medical condition and just crashed into the building that way.
Never did I dream that the morning would turn as ugly as it did.
A period time passed after the first plane hit when we found out that it in fact was a passenger jet and that it had been flown intentionally into the WTC. Then the same co-worker came in again and told us a second plane had hit the building. I can’t remember if we had a working television in our office but when the third plane hit Washington, D.C. and the Pentagon clearly we all realized that we were at war with someone, some country, some group.
Of course as a news website we did our best to update our website with the information that was available. And as a health site we all sat around and figured out what our tasks were and how we could inform the public of what was happening from a health perspective. We immediately contacted our partners at the Harvard Medical School and got a series of stories going with their doctors related to lung conditions, post traumatic stress syndrome and any other physical and mental issues we could think of related to such a horrific event.
As the morning went on things got worse in New York City. The buildings were crumbling, the fourth jet crashed into the ground in Western Pennsylvania and despite the fact that we were doing our job as health journalists, we knew that our world had been shaken at is very core.
By the time I got home my family was assembled in our family room glued to the television like everyone else. There wasn’t a lot of information that was known at that point. By evening we were all just drained emotionally. I remember taking the dog out for a walk and looking into the sky. It was empty of anything but stars. Whereas any other night you could see the blinking lights of passing airplanes this night it was silent as the government grounded every plane in the nation.
A day or two later we headed to the Shore for a break. I remember walking up the stairs to a getaway place and all of a sudden three fighter jets screamed along the coastline literally shaking the steps and the building. The kids were crying and even I was a bit on edge.
Like most Americans I was shaken up. This was not the way things were supposed to be. We were used to watching stuff on TV in other countries, on other continents. Bombings and terrorist activities on our soil didn’t happen on this scale. We were talking a few thousand people dead – right in the middle of New York City. How the heck did this happen?
I think the worst part of it was explaining to our kids what had happened. Unlike my parents who didn’t tell me anything about Kennedy getting shot I felt like with all of the TV coverage that they needed to know something.
So the delicate process of informing them without scaring them began. And of course they had worries that it could happen again and wondered if it could happen near our house. I naturally told them no but deep down – and with the Limerick nuke plant within sight from my backyard – I really wasn’t so sure. After all, a nuke plant seemed like a great target for a terrorist.
Time of course passed and things got back to normal in our house. But for the families of those killed that day, it’s never been the same. Funerals with no bodies. Year after year of news coverage of that tragic day. Movies about it. It just picks open the same wound over and over.
I watched a lot of TV the last week or so about that day. The video reminders are just so cruel. It is just horrible how 3,000 innocent people died that day for no reason.
And 12 years later what has changed? Sure there has not been another 9/11 on our soil. But the odds are that it will happen again. How bad no one can predict. It’s our world. Look at the Middle East. We’re sitting around deciding whether to bomb Syria or not.
This is the way we live now. There are commercials on why you should call a phone number if you suspect someone of being a terrorist. New Jersey wants you to report unattended baggage in train stations or bus depots or whatever.
It sucks to have to live like this. But what choice do we have? How else are we expected to carry on our daily lives? There is no alternative and I really don’t like it. I know that as the 6-year-old when Kennedy was shot the only thing that was bugging me was that I couldn’t go out and play.
Having that as my only worry nowadays would be nice. Ain’t happening.
– Andy Hachadorian