I was a senior in high school. It was C Block, the free period I had to work on the yearbook. I was working on the yearbook supplement for the previous class’s yearbook, the little book that covered all the events that were too late in the year to make it in the yearbook. I was picking out pictures for the page about the school musical, Man of La Mancha. My friend Sherry had her hand on the phone, about to call our yearbook advisor to ask her a question. Then the principal came over the loudspeaker. I figured he was probably going to say that someone left his or her headlights on or something. Of course, that’s not what he said.
Everyone has a memory like this. You don’t forget the moment you learned that the world would never be the same, that the security you used to feel was gone. I’m just lucky that my memories of this day don’t include the deaths of relatives or friends. Of the thousands of people dead, none were people I knew personally, although some were relatives of people I knew. I’d say I’m grateful that I didn’t lose anyone, but it’s hard to be grateful when so many others did.
On September 11th this year I donated blood at Fenway Park. There’s always a need for blood donations, but it still makes me shudder to think about the sheer number of people in need of blood five years ago.
The phrase “the war on terrorism” has always made me uneasy, because it’s not a war against a country or a group, but against a way of thinking. And when as many people as it took to pull off the September 11th attacks are zealous enough to commit crimes of this magnitude, eliminating the idea that killing thousands of innocent people is for the greater good could be impossible.
I don’t have any answers. All I can do is pray for a safer world.