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Finding myself in another part of the world, and asking myself, "Well, how did I get here?"
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Last Seen: 10th November 2004 - 12:41 AM
Local Time: May 22 2013, 11:32 PM
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8 Sep 2004
We're just a couple of days from the third anniversary as I write this. It was a momentous moment, one of those events that Changed Everything. I'm convinced that every one of us here has a story about when we first heard the news - my parents generation of Americans had Pearl Harbor, and I'm just barely old enough to remember (kindergarten) the day Kennedy was shot. Other events that stand out for me are Armstrong walking on the Moon, Nixon resigning, John Lennon's death and the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia.
This is one is ours, and it always will be ... and not limited to Americans, either. I believe everyone will have a searing memory of whatever emotions they were feeling when they first heard about the destruction of the Twin Towers.
I did not hear about it until the next morning. I was only using the TV for rented movies at the time so I had let the cable service expire, and I probably wouldn’t have turned it on that evening anyway. A Korean friend called me to tell me about it and offer sympathy but her cell lost the connection before she could explain anything.
I heard about it in the elevator on the way up to my school then next morning, more than 12 hours later. The colleague sharing the trip upstairs made some mention of ti and when my face showed puzzlement he elaborated, and I accused him of making a sick joke. Then he showed me the Korean Herald front page he was holding. With the photos.
The only kids to do anything weird about it that day were the kindies, and they really didn’t understand the jokes they were making. “Hey, teach-uh! Teh-rah! Boom!” And hand motions of planes crashing … my Canadian co-worker frowned and that was enough to get them to cut it out. They are children and they are blameless.
The difficult thing for me was that I wanted to get to a phone or go online and talk to people back in the States, but I had a full day of work to do first. Naw, no one offered to let me take the day off – the school had just suffered a pair of simultaneous midnight runs, so there was no one to fill in for me – and it was the wrong time of day to talk to people on the other side of the Pacific anyway.
My biggest concern was about the ex and her family, who are from Iran and came to settle in Silicon Valley a couple of years after Khomeini came to power, largely because they had started drafting kids younger than my brother-in-law, who was 15 at the time … they are good people and America is a better place because they went there, but I also know how bigoted people are there and I could see nothing positive that might possibly happen as a result of this event. And I thought of a movie called “The Siege,” in which Bruce Willis plays a colonel who declares martial law in NYC after a much smaller sort of terror event and quickly rounds up all Middle Eastern males in Madison Square Garden for detention (and torture) without trial …
All my people are in California or on the West Coast, so I wasn’t worried about their safety, except that I didn’t know whether it was the start of something bigger and that things could have been happening in other places and to people I did know while I was busy grading some homework. Yeah, it was sort of difficult to be so far from home at that time. To this day, I feel as if the rest of the people in my home country were part of an important experience that I now lack in some way.
The Koreans friends here were sympathetic and compassionate. This is what friends are all about, of course.
in the week or so that followed I discovered it was unnecessary for me to have watched it all on the television in real time, and even though I didn't get around to restoring the cable service I was treated to the images nearly every time I walked into an Itaewon bar that had a TV roosting in the corner of the ceiling. And I leaned later that I that some of what I was seeing had been considered too horrific for American networks to want to show, such as the footage of people leaping from the upper floors as the inferno came to engulf them.
That's my story. What's yours?
I realize that most people posting in this forum are in the UK but I don't think that matters much - I think people in the majority of countries of the world will have a clear memory of the moment when they first learned about this, And they will likely also remember what they were feeling at the time.
Talk to me.
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