My 9–11 Tale, 14 Years On

This story was originally drafted last September. It sat unpublished for a year, so I’m going ahead and publishing it now.

Where I Was On 9/11

It was 7:45am on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001. Just the day before, I had spent the afternoon with my best friend at school and hung out as normal, going over that weekend’s American Le Mans race, and prepping for the release of Slayer’s God Hates Us All, which we were waiting on all Summer as we read more about it.

I was running late for school, which meant instead of watching the morning news as I woke up for the day at 5am while my dad went off to work at his old job as a machine operator, I had slept in much later than I expected.

By the time my mother arrived to pick me up, it was just a normal day, until I got to school, now a sophomore in high school. My friends didn’t normally rush to meet me, and when they did, it was because something happened around our circle of friends. when an old friend told me that planes hit the World Trade Center, it sounded almost absurd.

The gravity of the day didn’t hit me until I got into my first class. The shiny new classroom Zenith TV/computer monitors that the school got over the Summer were used to tune into any number of cable and local news channels and I saw what had happened for myself.

The images of the plane striking the second tower didn’t seem real, and the coverage had moved on to waiting for the towers to collapse. I can distinctly remember a creeping feeling of numbness while many around me were expressing shock and fear.

That whole day was spent watching coverage of the attacks. It got to the point where I was just tired of seeing the footage and the talking heads. I just wanted to do anything else. During the day, I had also found out that the local mall was closed, so there went my plans to go pick up that Slayer CD.

I left school that day with a sense of dread, that we as a generation were going to be the first since the Gulf War to see actual combat. Sure enough, later that week, Congress authorized military action and the first part of the campaign began in Afghanistan later in the month. My best friend at the time called me, nearly frothing at the mouth at the prospect of war and us having our first real political argument as a result.

14 years on from, we’re still at war, though the US government through two administrations has sufficiently distorted language and media delivery of the message that people no longer care that we’re still at war against the nebulous idea of “terror”, all they care about is that our enemies are bombed into ash or captured and executed.

They don’t care about the instability triggered in the region or how it affects civilians in the Middle East and around the world, our comfort and safety is somehow much more important than the comfort and safety of the people who live in the countries that have been the most affected by 14 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Every year it seems like the US wants to keep reliving the memories of that day so it doesn’t forget the people and places that were lost, but by doing that, it’s also showing that it hasn’t learned anything at all and is instead using the yearly memorial to wallow in rose-tinted nostalgia for the relative peace that came with those days, when “Afghanistan” was just a country on a map that you only heard about on occasion and learned about in world history class.

I feel for the 3,000 lives lost that day, but the military action has killed scores more since then on both sides. 14 years on, the first responders that rushed in to save those in the World Trade Center have either died of painful disease or are suffering with very little help from the government and struggling to receive help from non-profit organizations, the same government that was all too happy to go to war for revenge against a group that didn’t fight a conventional war is citing cost as the reason that a federal program established to help them will likely be shut down at the end of the month.

14 years on, I’m still a Slayer fan, and I bought their latest album Repentless, released earlier today, but it seems like a dark joke that their latest album is released 14 years to the day of their last album release on 9–11. Pretty simple story, but even those of us in Texas were affected, despite being hundreds of miles away.

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