Posted by: Kevin | September 12, 2006

A personal reflection on September 11th

The morning of 9-11-01, I was in the middle of orientation for graduate school.  There was always a TV on somewhere in the school, so it wasn’t long before word spread that something had happened in NYC.  By the time the second plane hit a whole crowd of us had gathered in front of one of these TV’s to watch CNN.  I remember standing next to one of the IT guys and he was shaking his head in disbelief.  I remember saying the first thing that crossed my mind, “Well if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” 

The rest of that day was a blur.  Many of my classmates were making frantic phone-calls to family members who were traveling or who were in NYC to make sure they were ok.  I finally called my Mom that afternoon to make sure my Dad was all right.  I knew he was flying out of Providence that morning and that he wasn’t in any danger but it seemed like the right thing to do, because everyone else was doing it.

There was never a doubt in my mind that 9/11 was terrorism and never a doubt that something would have to be done about it.  I remember seeing random Palestinians on TV celebrating that night and hating them.  I told my wife that we should just work with the Israelis and exterminate them all.  Not the most noble response but it was what it was.

In the weeks that followed, everything resumed a strange sense of “normalcy”.  I went back to getting my MBA, along with my classmates.  We’d talk about how the economy would be affected and how the job market would change (I would graduate into the worst job market for MBAs in over 20 years).  But nothing really changed.  The job search was harder but not fundamentally different.  None of my classmates had a person connection to those who died on 9/11 so it was hardly discussed, too uncomfortable I guess.

One question that played in my mind in the days after 9/11 was “What would I have done?”  It still plays in my mind today.  Would I have had the courage to try and fight back like on flight-93?  What would my final thoughts have been, had I been trapped in one of the towers or on one of the other planes?  The other thought was, “What’s going to happen now?  How will my life change?

Turns out nothing was going to happen.  My wife and I were allowed to continue on as we were and start our family.  No sacrifice was asked of us, no change in the trajectory of our lives.  M. Takhallus, on his site, talks about feeling offended that nothing was asked.  I agree but there’s something more to it than that.  I wasn’t eager to leave my new wife and march off to war, and I wasn’t eager to make huge sacrifices, but I was willing.  No one asked though.  St. Crispin’s Day happened somewhere else and I was asked to stay home.  Now mingled with all the other feelings of that day, I look back, and I’m ashamed.

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