Doug: We had some options today. We could review how comic books have dealt with 9/11, from Amazing Spider-Man #36 to DC's 9-11 September 11th 2001 to Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers. Any of those would have made able material for a review. But instead, we thought we'd simply reflect on where we were and what we were doing on that horrific day.
Doug: Like most of us, I'd gone to work that day like any other. It was only the fourth week of school, so we were still in getting-to-know you mode in my classroom. I was 35 years old, and had been teaching for 13 years. I had a fundamental-level world history class 1st hour that year. They were a great group of students, but could at times be a bit "rough around the edges". I'm not sure exactly what we were doing, but I vividly recall during a short period of seatwork walking by my computer and seeing the email icon on the tray. I opened my Groupwise account and saw a simple request from a friend of mine whose classroom was directly below mine: TURN ON YOUR TV. I knew he wouldn't play any jokes on me, knowing I had kids in the room. So I quickly did. It was about 8:40 central time. Every channel was showing the World Trade Center ablaze. Video of an airplane hitting the WTC was shown over and over, and as we'd just come to this, one of my students exclaimed, "Cool!" For that youngster, he was having a difficult time separating Hollywood, video games, and what I perceived as something awful. I can't recall if we dismissed class at 8:54 as scheduled, but I vividly recall standing in near-shock, as at 8:59 we saw the South Tower collapse. Living only 50 miles south of Chicago, reports began to filter out that the Sears Tower was a target. The whole thing now seems so surreal...
Doug: One of the lasting memories I have of that period is the calm of the skies in the next week. I live directly south of both Midway and O'Hare, so we regularly see and hear planes heading south from the city. It's also not uncommon for our skies to be criss-crossed with the contrails of jets. Not that week. It was quite strange.
Doug: In the spring of 2003 I was at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for the second phase of my teacher fellowship. At the conclusion of the institute, I had quite a bit of time until my flight home. We had enjoyed the privilege of presentations from educators from the Imperial War Museum in London and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The Museum was allowing them to stay in the States for a few days after their roles had been completed, before another trans-Atlantic flight. Along with another Fellow, I was asked to take them over to the Smithsonian for some recreation. As we crossed the National Mall and made our way to the Museum of American History, I noted that the first 9/11 exhibit was there. I cannot express a) how moving it was to see the various artifacts and read some of the stories -- I was literally moved to tears... and b) how comforting it was to tour it with my new international friends. Both of them recalled their feelings of that day, and how they hurt for us. I was glad I had that opportunity, to share what I found was a common sadness.
Karen: Ten years? How much has the world, and just everyday life, changed since that day? I learned about the attacks that morning as I went into my living room to do some exercise. Turning on the TV, I saw that one tower had already been hit. I called a friend who I knew would be home and we talked about it briefly. At that point, there was still some thought that it was an accident. I went and showered and when I came back to the living room, the TV showed that the second tower had been hit. Now it was obvious that we were under attack. I was worried but headed off to work -only a ten minute drive.
Karen: When I arrived at the workplace, many of my co-workers were unaware of the attacks -hard to remember, but even just ten years ago, people were not on the internet 24/7 nor were they texting each other constantly! I relayed the news to several. People gathered around monitors in various offices and were shocked to see more news unfold: the Pentagon attack and the foiled hijacking. Some of my co-workers had friends and family in New York and they tried desperately to reach them. Most of us were stunned. My supervisor began to talk about how our political and military actions had brought this upon us. I understood what she was saying, even if I didn't necessarily agree with it. But how could any of that justify the murder of thousands of people? I just held my hand up and said to her, "I can't hear that right now."
Karen: As Doug mentioned, the absence of planes in the sky for days afterward was eerie. We had three major airports surrounding us (San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose) and were used to non-stop air traffic. The silence was deafening. I recall that in the days after the attacks, people up and down my block -and many others -began putting up American flags. Despite the tragedy, there was a sense of unity. Sadly that was to be squandered by our government. I remember wanting to do something, like so many others, but finding no outlet to help.
Karen: In October 2001, I had to go to Washington DC for a scientific conference. A group of us took a night-time sightseeing tour and one of the places we drove by was the Pentagon. It was still a wreck, one side heavily damaged. Tears began to roll down my cheeks and as I looked around the bus, I saw many others who were crying too. Looking at that battered building was somehow like looking upon a loved one in a hospital bed. It was painful to the very core. I don't think we've recovered fully, and I wonder if we will in my lifetime. I hope so.