I was not living in New York at the time, but I was in Manhattan on September 10 and September 11, 2001 to do thesis research. I was at the Barnard library paying for microfilm prints when the student working behind the desk told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I sort of thought it was a joke. I paid for my microfilm and got into the subway, which went as far as 42nd St. and then a conductor said that it would not be traveling further south and that everyone should get off. He didn't say why. Some people in the car had heard of the plane hitting the tower, and some hadn't. I didn't really understand what it all meant. At that point, I think I was imaginging a small propeller plane or a single- or double-seater that wasn't going to do too much damage. I spent several hours in midtown, listening to radio reports from cars with their windows rolled down, watching TV broadcasts through the windows of appliance stores, and being witness to horror stories told by people walking uptown from Ground Zero. I somehow found another young woman who was also traveling alone, trying to get back to Boston. We got out of the city on one of the very first Amtrak trains to leave that day, and spent the entire trip back listening to horror stories from people who had been there and were getting out any which way they could. I'm not sure I ever really absorbed how traumatic it was, because I always felt that it was more traumatic for so many others, that who was I to feel traumatized? So I didn't. I just focused on getting back to Boston and starting another school year.
At this point, I feel sort of detatched from it all, sort of the way I feel detatched from the horror of Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami before it, which killed 230,000 people.
I'm also not sure what the best way is to commemorate the events of September 11, 2001, or those who died, given that I don't personally know anyone who died in the attack. I don't want to watch CNN's feed of the 2001 news broadcast, nor do I want to get worked up about how it's five years later and Ground Zero is still a big hole in the ground. I do get angry when I think about how lax security still at major public institutions/areas/airports in this country, compared to how it is in Israel. (It's a pain in the neck to constantly have your bags inspected in Israel, but I feel pretty safe there.)
In summary, I have nothing to say that hasn't been said better by someone else. (For example, Orthomom reposted her moving post from last year. Also, check out the New York Times' updated profiles of survivors of 9/11 victims.)
Labels: New York