Sunday, March 21, 2004

We haven't forgotten

Sometimes I wonder whether Americans have forgotten September 11th. Not that it happened, certainly, but what it was like. In my case, I was frankly disbelieving. I had an indication that something was happening--I'd seen and heard some workmen listening to a radio as I walked into work. I hadn't really heard what they were talking about, but I got the impression that it was big. I was a Grad student at the time, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I didn't have a radio or a television on hand when I got to my office. The first notice I got was through an e-mail with a call to a prayer meeting, and reading that the reason for the prayer meetings were airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon--I couldn't believe it. It didn't seem possible. I tried to get online, to check CNN.com, but with all the Internet traffic that day, I couldn't get access. Eventually, a friend came by to talk to me about it, and I got a phone call from my mother (who was concerned since two of the flights had left from Boston, although she had no reason to think that I would be traveling anywhere that day), and I drained them of all the information they had, which was surprisingly little. It's not the sort of thing you forget, but sometimes it seems like we have forgotten, that two years is just too long in this age of "Internet time."

Today I was eating lunch at Pellegrino's, a sub place near U of R. The two guys sitting behind me were talking. (No, I didn't make much effort to tune them out. Call it eavesdropping if you want.) Initially, they were talking about dating younger women, and that it's important to have shared "Where were you...?" moments. They mentioned the Kennedy assassination, which neither of them could have been old enough to remember, then the Challenger shuttle explosion. Then came September 11th, which clearly wasn't relevant to the dating scene. From then on, that was all they talked about. One of them had a brother who witnessed it firsthand, and though it was secondhand, the speaker could describe his experience in detail. I left then, having finished eating, but I was reassured. Those two hadn't forgotten September 11th, and I very much doubt much of upstate New York has either. I doubt New York City has either.

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