From the editor: Tell me what you remember from that day
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was an eighth-grader at Bret Harte Middle School in San Jose, California.
For me, that morning began when my mother sat down on my bed — this was not the norm — and gently woke me up. I remember the moment distinctly. I slept on the bottom bunk of the bed my parents had generously bought me because I wanted a bunk bed, despite the fact that I did not share a room with my only sister. My mom had to get pretty low to sit on the futon-style lower level of the bed where I was sleeping the previous night.
“Something happened,” she told me. She was near tears, worried to share this news.
My mind flashed through possible tragedies. I’d never really known anything truly awful in my short life shy of our beloved black lab getting hit by a car in front of me when I was seven years old.
She told me what had happened. You all know that story. It’s tattooed on our collective national consciousness like nothing has been in a very long time.
School was eminently weird. As I walked up the lawn to my first-period class building, I remember seeing a teacher from seventh grade with whom I had been close. She asked how I was. I said I guessed I was OK. She nodded sadly. She understood — at least as much as anybody did at that point.
Some teachers let school be a distraction for us kids. My social studies teacher Mr. Compton, a sort of sage of American history, had other ideas.
“This is going to change everything,” he said gravely but without a hint of dramatics. “You can count on it, from here on out, everything will be different.”
I can’t think of a time someone told me something more prescient.
I remember my dad coming home from work that night with takeout — I think Indian, our favorite. I remember not knowing how to talk to him about what had happened, and sensing he didn’t really know either. There was just only so much to be said. I can’t imagine what I’d have done if it had happened while I was a father. I’m sure he said something reassuring. I’m sure I believed him.
I remember the skies going silent for days thereafter. I lived in a major metropolis with multiple international airports within an hour or two of my house, and overhead jets were essentially ubiquitous. Then, they were noticeably absent until, one day, outside Mr. Compton’s class, we looked up and there was a contrail in the sky again. We hadn’t heard the flight ban had been lifted. We all wondered for a moment if something was happening again. Thankfully, it was nothing to worry about. Normalcy, such as it ever would be, was making its withering return.
It’s kind of wild, though not entirely surprising, how many details we recall from that iconic and fateful moment in time 20 years ago next weekend.
I’d love to hear some of your memories of that day and time. Where were you? What do you remember? What did you think? What did you feel? What did you do?
If you’re so inclined, email me your stories at email@example.com. Let me know when you do if you’re willing to have your story published in the pages of the Craig Press. I can’t guarantee I’ll run every story (though I can probably fit the majority online), but I can guarantee I’ll read them all.
I’d be grateful. I think a lot of us would be.
Twenty years. A moment in time we can never forget. It’s hard to imagine how far we’ve come, but here we are.
Let’s take a moment and look back together.
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