I remember sitting in math class when the principal walked in, teary-eyed, and handed a memo to my math teacher. After reading the short 3 sentence memo over and over for about 3 minutes, my teacher read it aloud to us.
The initial response from my peers was light. Nobody absorbed the event’s sheer magnitude. In fact, it seemed to be more mildly joked about than seriously viewed. Part of the problem was the school administration decided not to let teachers turn on their classroom televisions. In the middle school, the students were never even told of anything.
The school day pressed on, but everyone was antsy. Noone had an idea of what was going on. It still seemed like an abstract being. Some people didn’t even care. It wasn’t until we all got home and turned on our televisions that we realized what had happened.
Suddenly, we all got this feeling in the pits of our stomachs the second we saw the images on CNN or Fox or wherever. I actually can’t speak for all my peers, but I know that’s what happened to me. The entire day, as the towers collapsed and thousands of people died, helped, rescued, ran, I didn’t realize what had actually happened beyond a little white piece of memo paper. The replays of the plane crashes were especially trying. I felt grief and pity, as well as anger. Why couldn’t they let us know? Our perspectives on the greatest event of our lives were permanently affected. Were we not mature enough to see the event happen? Did they not know how to handle it? Did they expect riots? 9/11 unfolded while my school scurried its students behind a protective shell. But this has been such an infraction of so many personal perspectives that the whole purpose of censorship has been defeated.
Perhaps we have, as a result, absorbed 9/11’s impact so much more greatly; perhaps we have absorbed it less greatly. But it takes only a poignant story from a firefighter, from a World Trade Center employee, from any witness who was too close to 9/11, to erase those discrepancies.