Where were you on 9/11? Twelve years ago today, I sat in my window office in Eden Prairie as a director of a call center in the alarm industry and noticed how nice a day it looked to be as I ate breakfast. Even though hurricane season had begun in the south Atlantic and Gulf Coast areas, we had clear weather across the board and didn’t anticipate any problems. Terrorism was an academic subject for debates and foreign-policy think pieces, even though we had seen a growing list of attacks over the previous decade from a network of radical Islamists whose name was hardly on the tips of our tongues.
The attacks came at 7:50 am here in Minnesota, and we found out about them almost immediately, thanks to our connections in the New York area. At first, we assumed that the plane that struck the World Trade Center must have been an accident with a smaller or private plane, which occasionally happens near skyscrapers, and the news that it was a major airliner left us all bewildered as to how that could happen. When we heard about the second strike, we knew we were at war — but didn’t yet know with whom.
Like any war, we took our losses that day, and we saw our heroes, too. The first responders who charged into the Twin Towers and gave their lives to save others. The men and women of United 93 who refused to allow a fourth attack and gave their lives to save others. The civilians and military personnel at the Pentagon who risked their lives to rescue their stricken comrades. We seethed with anger and promised justice while we cried over the irreplaceable and brave Americans whom we lost, and the heroes we found in the rubble.
It’s been twelve years, and yet any time I choose, I can put myself right back there in that Eden Prairie office, or in my home later that day as we took stock of the heinous attack. I can put myself on the ground and the shudder of fear hearing military jets take off from the nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul airport over the next couple of days when all other air traffic had been grounded. I don’t choose to put myself back there often, and when I do I don’t even really need to revisit the coverage — but perhaps it’s best to do so, just to force myself to come to terms with the scale of the destruction and rage.
Where were you on 9/11?