September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

Story:I was at work on the morning of 11 September 2001, assisting guests to check out at the front desk of my hotel. Adjacent to the front desk is our office area. CNN was tuned in on the TV which sat on the manager's desk. I do not remember why I had the news channel tuned in. Whatever the reason, it was completely eclipsed by what I was to see that morning. Suddenly there were excited TV voices and scenes of "little" airplanes going into the Twin Towers buildings, and fireballs and smoke. I remember the first impression that this looked like something out of a video game. At first, there was no sense of reality to it. The sense of deep reality finally came when those little bitty people (the ones who jumped from the top floors) were shown falling outside the Towers. Such tiny dots; were they really people? That is when the horror of it finally set in. I watched and watched for hours as the scenes were replayed and replayed, and replayed again and again.

Memory:My strongest memory was a dream I had that night. I was inside one of the Towers, a huge plate glass window before me, and I was looking out across the tops of New York City. Clear and hazy in the distance. And, way in the far distance, I saw an airliner, so tiny and far away. And I saw it turning toward me and then slowly growing larger and larger, and suddenly growing so much larger, blocking out all else as it came right in to me. No sound, just some kind of building vibration ending in a blare of white light ... then nothing. I awoke knowing that this was a scene replayed from the memory of some dead person who had seen it first hand. I will never forget that dream.

Affects:We all became more vulnerable that day, and we learned a thing about fear. Americans have always been sheltered from that. Terrorism had always been a thing which happened somewhere else. Even the attack on Pearl Harbor was something which happened somewhere else. Somehow, even the bombing in Oklahoma City did not truly wake us up. Suddenly, we felt a raw and open vulnerability which had never been there, before. I think we all were proud of those great people in New York City; the way they pulled together to do the awful work of cleaning up that mess. My whole viewpoint about New Yorkers changed as I watched the way they supported each other and got the job done. And the country-wide surge of sudden patriotism was so strong you could taste it. And, beneath all this, there was an undercurrent of fear; an awareness of danger which was new for us. Perhaps it would be good if we kept a bit of that fear.


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