I’m relieved that this year’s commemorations of the events of September 11th, 2001, went off with relatively little hoopla compared to previous years. Now don’t get me wrong. I surely remember where I was 19 years ago on that fateful Tuesday at 8:46 a.m. While it may be possible to have felt somewhat removed from those events here in Wyoming, such was not the case in Philadelphia, mid-way between Ground Zero in New York and the Pentagon and just 200 miles from Shanksville, the town where the fourth plane went down. I remember the fear, the panic and the mayhem all as if it were yesterday.
And for that matter, I remember the day after. While my university closed Tuesday, we reopened the following day under the assumption that we would carry on as usual. But I didn’t. I held my two senior seminars as scheduled but during those 4 hours, I conducted open sessions in which I talked informally with my students about the previous day’s events. And more, I listened, as each student spoke about their worries and concerns. Many had parents working either in the Towers or, at the very least, somewhere in Lower Manhattan. They, like me, were traumatized and, as I would realize later, were in a mild state of shock. To try to think about anything but what had happened would have been impossible. Our nerves were raw. Our fear and uncertainty were visceral. We didn’t know it, but we would be processing for weeks and months and even then, the pain would never fully dissipate.