Our Recollections From 9/11: Julie
It’s been 10 years since the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and we continue to feel very real aftershocks. In the hours, days and weeks following the tragedy, no one could imagine how much our world would change—how our concepts of peace and freedom would shift and morph, and how our sense of national security and global terror were irrevocably changed. The Frisky staff took the time to share our personal experiences of 9/11, and hope that this will inspire you to recall your own feelings and experiences in the comments. We see this as an opportunity to remember, memorialize and come together, and we hope you’ll join us. So far, we’ve heard from Amelia, Ami, and Jessica. Here is Julie’s memory of that day. I was living in Philly and had just started a new job. I came into work, and turned on NPR, as I did every day, and was completely confused by the news. A plane hit the World Trade Center, then another. And then the Pentagon? And Pennsylvania? Our offices were a block from Philadelphia’s City Hall. Were we next? What was happening? We turned on the TV in the conference room and collectively gasped as we watched the buildings crumble like dominoes to the ground. My boyfriend’s office was not far. I went there and collected him and we went to my apartment, where we sat for the next eight hours, glued to the television, trying to understand what was happening.
I have always been someone who is drawn to chaos — I don’t know why. The recent revolution in Egypt is another example — I wanted to be there, to live through it, to be immersed and crushed in the power of the moment. And I remember feeling the same way — feeling a strange desire to be in New York and to feel the full weight of the experience with other New Yorkers. To be a part of the bizarre collective experience that was overtaking the city — and the world — in that moment. I know this is not unique — a few years ago I took a class on the politics of memory and we visited the 9/11 Museum, which is next to Ground Zero. There are significantly more international visitors to the museum than New Yorkers, or even Americans, generally. We all want to understand, to be a part of, to somehow interpolate the tragedy under our skin.
What I remember most about the days following the tragedy was the free pass we were all given — and sometimes squandered. The free pass to let grudges fall away. To be nicer to strangers. To be kinder to one another. To contact old friends, exes, estranged family and let it all be forgiven. The free pass we were given to be truly and deeply human to each other. I’m grateful to know it’s possible, and I’m hopeful it won’t require buildings tumbling down to see it again.