As a young woman I had heard over and over again, "I remember what I was doing when JFK was shot. I was ..." Somehow I didn't get the significance of that. I didn't understand how something that happened "to someone else" could really have a life changing impact on your life. It seemed to go against my steadfast belief that "you are responsible for your own actions and no one else's". That changed, on Sept. 11, 2001.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day in New Hampshire. A sunny, crisp and cool morning that reminded me of why I love Fall in New England. After having dropped off GP at school (what was to be his last semester, ever) I came home to tackle this cabinet. I say tackle because it had been a work in progress for a few years before I had decided that this was going to be the year when I would finish it. I laid it across the table, gathered my supplies and turned on the kitchen TV. Engrossed in my sanding and glazing I heard something that caught my attention and when I looked up at the TV there was one of the twin towers with smoke coming out of it. I stopped what I was doing and brush in hand raised the volume.
The anchor, I think it was Peter Jennings, said a plane had just crashed into the tower. My thought was, "What an idiot! How the hell do you miss the twin towers???" I swear, that was what I though.... but lets regress, there had been a plane crash a few months prior, and the pilot crashed into a building, accidentally! He had lost control of his plane and crashed it into a building, and it was all over the news, just a few months before. I, being of the flying class, the ones that believed that flying was safer than driving a car thought, "This is insane. They need to stop handing out flying licenses to every Tom, Dick and Harry!" I swear, this is really what rushed through my mind as I stood there, in the safety of my kitchen paintbrush in hand, shaking my head. Mind you, I did not know it was an airline jet. And of all the things that I could have thought, even now as I remember it, I don't think there was any reason, any reason at all for me to have thought of terrorism as even the most remote possible cause of this crash)... THEN, as I watched and listened to the anchor speculate as to the cause of the crash, the second plane came into the screen, and right before my eyes, crashed into the second tower. THAT'S when I knew, this was not an accident. This was bad, really bad.
I will never forget what I was doing when something that happened thousands of miles away from my home, to people I did not know, changed the way I live my life to this very day. Pretty much the same way my parents will never forget what they were doing when JFK was shot and killed... but alas, I know my son and children of his age will never understand what it is that makes this day so unforgettable. They were too young to have lived the life of freedom we enjoyed before TSA, before Homeland Security... to them, this is just the way things are. This is the way they have learned to travel, to live. You cannot REMEMBER what you never lived.
My cabinet stands unfinished in my family room and every time I look at it I remember. I remember I was painting it on this day, ten years ago.
I bet you remember what you were doing too.
*Image is a cropped screenshot of the Jules Naudet footage that is included in the Naudet brothers' documentary film 9/11, originally broadcast on March 10, 2002 on CBS, and later released on DVD. It is a historically significant image of the crash of American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.