Friday Night Think Tank: Never Forget

never forget 2It’s Friday, Modern Philosophers.

Of course, it’s just not any Friday.  The calendar has brought us to September 11, the date that will forever live in infamy for this generation.

Oddly, the weather has made an abrupt change here in Maine.  After weeks of sunshine, heat, and humidity, I awakened to heavy rains, darkness, and a chill that I hadn’t felt in months.

It was as if Mother Nature wanted to mourn the day with the rest of us.  The gloomy weather seemed perfectly fitting, and even though not a single person mentioned the significance of today while I was at work, it was certainly on my mind.

We never will forget, will we, Modern Philosophers?

Forgive the somber mood, but I believe it is appropriate.  As we gather in the Think Tank tonight, let’s make sure that our Deep Thoughts touch on that day, the heroes, and those who lost their lives.

This week’s topic: What do you remember when you think back to the events of September 11, 2001?

never forgetI was living in California at the time, so my first memory is of the panic that set in when the phone woke J and I from sleep.

J answered the call, and it was her father calling to tell us what was happening.

We rushed out of bed to turn on the TV in the living room, and then we just watched in horror as the events of the day unfolded on live television.

Since I am from New York, my thoughts immediately went to my friends and family who still lived there.  It was all so familiar to me.  It was my home.  My birthplace.  The place I had spent the first twenty-six years of my life.

I used to work in the Empire State Building, so a chill came over me as I thought about how I had spent my days inside what had to now be considered a prime terrorist target.

I remember J and I discussing whether there would be further attacks, and if we were in danger since we were so close to Los Angeles.  We talked about why the idea of moving to Maine was even more appealing.

I was the director of a tutoring clinic at the time, and we had hundreds of students from Kindergarten through twelfth grade.  I wondered how the kids were processing this, and if we were even going to open for the day.  I thought about how to best deal with all the questions the students were most likely to ask.

Most of all, I remember bouncing back and forth between angry and scared.  I wanted revenge, but I also feared it all escalating into something larger and more damaging.

I was grateful not to be living in New York, but also wished that I was still there.

It was a day of total conflict, and one I will never forget…

never forget 3


About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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13 Responses to Friday Night Think Tank: Never Forget

  1. Jake Kale says:

    Like most people, I watched it unfold on TV with my mother. The full scope didn’t hit home immediately.

    I few days later, somebody in my town thought it would be a good idea to test the air raid siren. I got a panicked phone call from my sister, who’d just heard a plane go overhead and feared the worst. Eventually I managed to calm her down, but that was when it dawned on me how big this truly was.

    • Austin says:

      Things were on edge in LA for a very long time. I am so glad I live in Maine now. I know one is never truly safe, but I just feel like I’m way further off the bad guy radar now…

  2. Josh Wrenn says:

    Yours was very similar to mine. I was lying in bed with my first wife and since we were in the PST too, we were about 10 minutes from when we’d usually wake up. We had an answering machine back then, and my mom called us to tell us a plane had hit the first tower and they thought it was probably an attack but might have been accidental. It took us about 5 seconds to process what we heard, we both asked each other if that is really what she said, and then ran out to turn on the TV just as the second plane hit live. It was insanely traumatic, and all I could do was worry about those people and their families. Then we had to get to work. There was no work really to be done, just talking to the people who would come in and cry with them. Then they grounded planes and halted mail, and the next couple weeks were nothing but that. Just insane.

  3. averagebob says:

    I was in New York three weeks after it happened.

    It was a vacation planned well in advance, and friends said to come anyway. I remember going to Ground Zero, seeing the exhausted workers, feeling the dirty water sprinkle down on my head as the dust and grime was washed off the skyscrapers.

    And the smell — a horrible stench of I don’t know what (burning metal? Rubber? Flesh? — is something I will never forget. We walked the Brooklyn Bridge back to Brooklyn after visiting the site, and you could still smell it on the other side.

    The other thing I will remember was how the citizens were. Almost everyone I met was helpful, friendly, outgoing, not at all living up to the reputation of the New Yorker. People really banded together as humans during that time, and you could feel the strength in the city.

  4. AthenaC says:

    I was in the Air Force living in Monterey, CA at the time. I woke up, went to the common room to fill up my water bottle while the assigned airman was doing the daily cleaning. The TV was on, and I saw the CNN logo and one of the towers smoking, but I didn’t think anything of it – I assumed it was a movie.

    “Did you see?”

    Me: “See what?”

    “The TV.”

    Me: “Oh that’s REAL?!”

    I watched as the second plane hit the second tower.


    Well, until further notice I had to get to class. So I put on my uniform and started walking to class. Another airman I knew fell in step beside me and said, “One of the towers just collapsed.”

    I shook my head.

    I arrived at class, where our Chinese teachers had the TV on as several students clustered around. I watched as the second tower collapsed.

    The teachers indulged us for a bit and then enough was enough. We had a language to learn. For the first hour, the originally planned lesson was replaced with a quickly-thrown-together lesson on how to talk about terrorism-related topics. (If you’re curious, “terrorism” in Chinese is “kongbufenzi.” That I still remember after all these years.)

    The one thing I remember feeling was that I had failed. I was keenly aware that I had taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic – we all had. And the reason this was happening was because one or more of my compatriots failed. And if one of us failed, we all failed. Therefore I failed.

    After that all I wanted to do was go kick some terrorist ASS. Never got the chance, though.

    Anyway – that’s my 9/11 story.

  5. donedreaming says:

    Some occasions just become etched in your soul and this is one of them for me. I was only a visitor from across the pond but the towers were where I headed each time I came over. I spent an afternoon stood outside on the roof of one of them and it was incredible. I was working in a UK contact centre when they came down, we could see the pictures on the tv screens but there was no sound. We just stood in stunned silence. It became quite difficult at work once the story unfolded as we had many people of Asian decent working there and numerous heated ‘conversations’ took place in the days that followed ..

  6. I live in Sydney, Australia so was a long way from those tragic events but I vividly remember watching on TV as the second plane hit. At that time, I flew B767s for a living so, when my wife woke me to the news that a 767 had hit the WTC, I was stunned. I thought it had to be some freak accident as the the sun was shining on what seemed a beautiful day in NY. Then the second 767 hit and I could hardly believe my eyes.

    I tried to imagine what it must have been like on the flight deck in those final seconds and quickly concluded that no sane pilot would deliberately fly into the towers and that they must have been incapacitated with some extremist at the controls.

    I felt stunned and empty for the rest of that day. Knowing the size of the aircraft involved somehow made the events of that day particularly shocking for me. Rest in Peace to those who lost their lives. Lest we forget.

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