September 11th fifteen year anniversary Musings


He read my poem, ten years later, about that day, and said the death of Michael Jackson effected him more than the falling of the Twin Towers, and the attacks on the Pentagon.

I wanted to cry at that, still, ten years later, but didn’t hold it against him: too young to remember.



I was in Pre-Calculus class, at Saint Albans High School in Washington, DC, in the Math Lab learning to use a computer to graph equations.  When Hakim the senior prefect burst in to each room, saying “something has happened”– not yelling, not afraid, but out of breath and concerned– we turned on the internet and tried to reach a news site.  They wouldn’t load: too much traffic.

When we finally realized we were under attack, I looked at the tiny clock on the lower left of the PC.  Perhaps the numbers were too small; perhaps my vision worsened in the moment; perhaps I simply can’t remember; but I believe that, in that moment, I forgot how to read.



People used to say that the whole World changed with September 11th, 2001.  We don’t say that so much any more.  But I changed.  Of course I changed, I was 16.

I still believe the whole world did change, that day, five years ago.  Not because a nasty man planned vengeful terrorism; not because three buildings and four planes were destroyed; not even because of the lives lost.  I believe the whole world changed that day because all of humanity spent so very much time talking, thinking, praying and fighting over the events of that day.



From the hill by our school chapel, I watched the Pentagon burn.  The smoke was black, blacker than any smoke I’d ever seen.

Traffic stood still; no one get home.  The President and V.P. were whisked away and safe, but we Washingtonians were left to go it alone: afraid and at a standstill, unable to move.

We had no leader that day, no one to rise to the occasion, no one to take us home.



My friend A.L. guessed who done it.  That evening, still light enough to see, we were sneaking cigarettes by the little league field.  The game was still on.

A.L. was outraged, rightfully, that they hadn’t canceled the game.  But I knew enough to know how important that the game must go on, especially for people younger than we.

We both realized we weren’t children any more.



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