September 11, 2001.
by Desiree Anderson
semester of grad school, I got ready for Dr. Leushuis’s 16th Century French Literature class. I
gathered my books and folders from around the dining room table. Before rushing out the door, I remembered it
was my mom’s birthday. I wanted to call her early in the day, rather than later, to wish her a Happy
her number, and the phone rang. She picked up.
somberly, “Turn on the TV.”
clicked the remote, turned on the news, and while she explained what just happened, I saw the second plane crash
into the Twin Towers on live TV.
to carry on two conversations at once: my mom in one ear, and my
roommate standing next to me, trying to make sense of what we saw. We watched in disbelief and horror as the
reality dawned that this wasn’t an accident. We got off the phone, stunned and still in
go to class. We watched as reports came in of other hijacked planes. News anchors appeared shaken, and I felt
the anchor of our nation had as well. I thought we were impervious. And now, two planes hit an icon in New York,
a plane hit the Pentagon and another was diverted from causing massive damage, but still the passengers and
pilot and flight stewards were killed. Was this the end of the world as we knew it? I called my boyfriend, my
brothers, and sisters. I wanted to feel safe. I wanted to wake up from this horrible dream. I felt unsettled and
terrified as if our country were at war, or the world at war. Was this the start of World War
eleven year old nephew had been shot and killed accidentally in target practice only seven months earlier. I had
become used to life being upside down. Things didn’t make sense.
Now with our country under attack, I felt it again, like a permanent exclamation mark: to not take for granted
people you love, to always say you love them, to not turn down an opportunity to hug them and say how much you
appreciate them being in your life. I had always been a hugger and an “I-love-you”-er, but this experience had
underlined that you really don’t know how long you will have with someone. When I think back on this time, I
remember how it put things in sharp relief. Times of before and after.
classes did resume after the 9/11 attacks, Dr. Leushuis asked the class what we wanted to do. Did we want to
have a regular class to resume life as usual? Or did we want to talk about how we felt about what had happened?
We wanted to talk about it. I don’t remember what anyone said. I think I was still in shock.
reminded me that fights for freedom are not history stories. They are lived every day. The liberties we enjoy
and often take for granted as a culture are costly. I wanted to never forget.