Remembering 9/11: Where were you?

September 11th, 2001 changed America and the world forever. Where were you and how will this day be remembered? Photo: Idovermani via Flickr

DALLAS, September 11th, 2012 - On September 11th, 2001, I rolled out of bed and headed to the shower before my morning classes. The living room television was on and I paused in the hallway watching a New York skyscraper burn and listening as news anchors theorized.

“Wow. What idiot pilot was flying that low?” was my first thought, my second a silent prayer for anyone inside. En route to class, I said nothing about the burning building to my friend, thinking it was another chaotic accident the media would cover ad nauseam.

I don’t remember how much time passed before the student aide interrupted our lecture with a frantic whispers into our professor’s ear, but I’ll never forget the look on his face. Even writing this now, I get chills recalling his instant horror slide into calm instruction.

“Students, class is dismissed. Our country is under attack. Gather your things and head home.”


I was the first out the door. The hallway was full of confused students, desperate teachers and tangible fear, but I wanted to see what those reporters had discovered.

“Was the plane in that tower the attack he was referencing? There had to be people in that building. People at work on a Tuesday. Jesus…” was all I could think. I sprinted for the media lounge, cutting through churning crowds and a baseball field. The room was packed.

Being petite, I navigated to the front of the room and crammed next to a stranger, staring wide-eyed as my fellow countrymen stood hopelessly on skyscraper ledges, holding hands before jumping to their death. Shocked gasps and cries filled the room and none of us could look away. Together, with hundreds of other students and faculty, I watched the second tower fall. I watched the brave people of New York run for their lives. As those ominous clouds swallowed all in their path, the street reporter lost her race with the wall of debris. When that camera fell, no one in the room made a sound. 

All we could hear was the eerie whine of an emergency vehicle somewhere in the distance. The consistent droning waned until there was only silence. After the camera crew recovered, they began roaming the ashes, capturing haunting images of zombie-like, soot-caked citizens wandering aimlessly, searching for friends and water. I couldn’t watch anymore. 

It is difficult to reflect clearly on the myriad of emotions I experienced on that day, but the most prevailing was definitely shock. I wanted to know who had done this to my people. In the months and years that passed, as more details emerged my shock transformed into anger at my government for not protecting the people of New York, and by proxy, all Americans. As they exploited the tragedy to seize power and invade sovereign nations, that anger has fueled my life-long disgust for political opportunism, corruption and propaganda. 9-11 jaded me. 

Because of the events of this day, my nation has been embroiled in two wars we have yet to win. An entire generation of men and women that served in Mesopotamia and Afghanistan have been eternally affected, thousands have been lost and tens of thousands wounded. Politically, we are less free and in greater danger than ever before as a domestic police state marches forward, seizing freedoms and trampling on the American Rule of Law. 

On September 11th, I do not just mourn for the loss of the innocent lives at Ground Zero, for the amazing first responders that ran into certain death to save their fellow man, nor the people at the Pentagon or that Pennsylvania field. I do not just mourn with the families they left behind.

I mourn for all Americans affected by this day in the past, present and future, for we are many. I mourn for any innocents at home and abroad caught in the maelstrom of the 9-11 aftermath. I mourn for the death of the second American republic. 

Today, we grieve together. Where were you on 9-11 and how will this day be remembered by you?

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Tiffany Madison

Tiffany is a writer and veteran's advocate. Her column focuses on civil liberties, veteran's issues and current events. You can follow her on Twitter @tiffanymadisonFacebook or her website.

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