When I woke up on September 11, 2001, to the radio announcing that the Twin Towers had been hit, I was safe in bed in a Minnesota dorm room. I hadn’t been to New York or Washington, D.C. in years, nor did I have any close connections with people there at the time. Yet the memories of 9/11 are seared into my brain, still vivid ten years later: The silence of everyone in the dorm lounge, where we watched CNN as reporters grappled for information. The trickling in of more pajama-clad students, two by two. The wide eyes, gasps, and “Ohmygods” as we watched the first tower crumble, then the second, and the wreckage of the Pentagon. The concern for floormates, new friends, whose families lived in D.C. or New York. The email announcing that classes were canceled.
We’re not usually too concerned with large-scale crime here in the land of “Minnesota nice,” but that day, both the IDS Tower in downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America in Bloomington were evacuated. No one knew what the rest of that day or the following days might bring.
Fast forward through the next several years: Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda as household names, WMDs, two wars, new security restrictions at airports and everywhere. Even ten years later, with the mastermind of 9/11 no longer a threat, I marvel with “shock and awe” at how the events of the day continue to shape our history.
On Sunday, the tenth anniversary, the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero is being dedicated and will be open to the public for the first time on Monday 9/12. A museum is under construction and will be opening next September, though a preview site is already open. (Get a cool bird’s-eye view of the memorial and construction at Ground Zero: http://www.911memorial.org/911-memorial-webcam)
I hope this September 11 will be a day of peace, remembrance, tolerance, and especially support for those who lost loved ones or friends in the horrific events of that day.
I happened upon this sign in Rome, juxtaposed next to a classy clothing shop along Via del Corso, while I was spending a semester abroad. The sign gave no explanation, but I took it to mean 9/11, and an Internet search confirms that’s the general consensus among Italians as well.