Sunday, September 11, 2011

Memories

On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was on my way to a class at Penn State when I first heard news of the attack. I heard a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and I just naturally thought it has to have been a small prop plane. When I heard the first tower had fallen I didn't believe it, it wasn't possible. I had been there so many times, stood on the top, looked out over the world, and I just couldn't believe bringing it down was humanly possible. I never got to class but sat in the HUB for hours watching the news with hundreds of other students and teachers, for the most part all silent, stunned. Finally I just wandered off to the hockey complex.

I never played field hockey in college but this was my sophomore year and I still helped out with the team because it was a way to keep a stick in my hand and get a good workout. All the days activities had been canceled but the team still seemed to gravitate to Bigler Field as if we we had no where else to go or just belonged there. We sat on the field talking some but mostly thinking and here is where I noticed something that, other than the news itself, is my main memory of the day. It was just a stunningly beautiful day in the mountains. Cool early fall air, a cloudless blue sky, and not a sound to be heard because of the grounding of any aircraft. It was just gorgeous and didn't seem fair, there is no way it should have been such a beautiful day.

A month later in October a friend and I drove up to New York because I wanted to see it myself. As I have a habit of doing I snuck around some barricades and wandered around the area taking photos until I was caught by the National Guard and escorted out. I will never, ever, forget the things I saw that day. I've tried writing about it a few times but words just can't describe what I saw, smelled, or how I felt. I took hundreds of photos while I was there but pretty much have kept them to myself ever since. I decided I wanted to show some as my little memorial to that day and those that died. I picked out some of my favorites, maybe not the best of the lot and far from the best work I have ever done but still my favorites. I think taken together they give the best idea of what I saw.

Ten years later one thing does trouble me. The idea that even though most of the masterminds of the attack are dead the terrorists may have won in the end. I'm 29 and I still remember this country before 9/11, before it was bled by ten years of war, before police carried sub-machine guns, before we began to resemble Orwell's Oceania. Somebody my sister's age has no memory of the time before and and to them it is a completely natural way of living. That may be the saddest thing of all.

the photos - (flickr set) (Picassa album)

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