You always remember where you were when you heard the news about the twin towers. That's the echo of today that I constantly hear when September 11, 2001 comes up. Like other monumental historical moments from my parents generation about the JFK shooting or landing on the moon September 11, 2001 was one of the biggest moments of my pre-adult life that I remember vividly.
The other big global change that I remember is the handoff of Hong Kong from the British back to China where my 7th grade middle score teacher Mrs. Sanacore said this is a pivotal moment that will have great impact in the future. Today that makes more sense to me than it did than as all I remember seeing was the fireworks display over the Bay in Hong Kong.
Thinking about it on the 20th anniversary I was trying to figure out if it was in my 10th grade or 11th grade mathematics class. On September 10th, 2001 Brian & Jon two friends that sat next to me chatted about Brians uncle and how he owned a ton of stock in this company XM Radio that was the future of radio. I had just turned 16 less than a month earlier and believe that I had one of the classic Nokia phones through Cingular Wireless which was my first cell phone.
The next day sitting in Math class we had the prototypical standard geeky middle aged male math teacher who was going through the lesson plans for that day when Jon who was a troubled student at the time came in late and the teacher asked if he had a note. He said they are about to make an announcement about the planes that hit the buildings in New York. That didn't sink in then and when the intercom came on they asked for all students to report back to their home room for an announcement.
Ms. McCall I believe was her name was my home room and 1st period teacher. She rolled in one of those televisions on a cart that we used back in the earlier 2000's and we watched as the World Trade Centers burned and had no idea of the impact at the time. My friend Ryan and I were in the room watching in disbelief wondering if this was real life or a cartoon as it just looked then and as I watched replays yesterday unreal....
What followed was the teacher saying that this is very serious and you will remember this for the rest of your life. This is one of the biggest moments in American history. As the 2nd tower to get hit but the 1st to fall fell over we asked why it collapsed like that versus falling over like a tree timbering over in the woods? They mentioned the attacks in Washington D.C. as well and one of the students who's father worked in Washington D.C. was pale and worried that her family could have been in danger with so many unknowns in the world at that given moment especially for high school students who didn't have smart phones or connectivity like there is today.
School was evacuated as I believe was the case across the country. No planes were in the sky and we headed to Burger King on Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills, Maryland. I didn't have a car yet and don't believe I had my drivers license quite yet but my long time friend Nick took me home and I spoke to my mom about what was going on and that things were scary. A neighbor named Brian and I picked up our lacrosse sticks and he said Richart I'm going to explain to you whats going on and what happened today.
That was the 1st time I had ever heard the name Osama Bin Laden. Learned about terrorist in the middle east and other global issues that hadn't penetrated my teenager mind. Ruddie there are a lot of bad people out there but this guy funds terrorism and comes from a well known family and he's been plotting something for a while. We tossed the lacrosse ball till it got dark and myself along with the rest of the world tuned in to watch George Bush's speech that night.
The next day I was worried and went to school late with a note, not sure what the next days events would bring. We were all on high alert and canceled our future vacation plans and flights.
As we fast forward 20 years later and reflect back it's insurmontable what happened that day. Watching documentaries and reading in depth articles about loved ones who disappeared that day and vanished never to be seen again. We face new attacks every day whether it's covid-19 or domestic terrorism. If you look at WWII we lost over 20,000,000 humans over the course of 6 years. That averages out over 2,190 days 9,132 humans dying every day. We lost 80,000 from drug overdoses last year and this also tears aparts families and communities.. There are so many landmines and attacks we have to avoid each day of our lives. If you wake up then you are already ahead of millions who perished before you. Whether you're waking up in Palm Beach, Florida or in a jail cell waking up is a big win that you should appreciate if you look back at history.
Days like that make you appreciate life and that we shall never forget.