Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Never Forget 9/11/01

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I’ll never forget where I was where I was on September 11, 2001.

I was headed to my 8:30am lecture in Tydings Hall. When I got to class, no one was in the room. I wondered down the hall and noticed a bunch of people (including most of my classmates and the TA) crowded around a small television in a lounge. There was an odd, uncomfortable calm about the room.

CNN's coverage of the WTC attacks in New York was on. When I approached, the first tower was already ablaze, but still standing. Initially, I thought this was simply an unfortunate and tragic accident involving some poor soul who made a wrong turn. Minutes later, I watched a plan slam into the second tower. It was at that point I realized that this was not an accident. Someone was flying plans into the World Trade Center for sport. Both towers literally crumbled within minutes before our eyes.

As we watched the gut wrenching broadcast, we learned that another related attack had taken place about 12 miles from the building we were in. The Pentagon - the very building that serves as the symbol of American military strength and power - had been also been hit. Another plane, rumored to be heading for the White House (6 miles from where we were), crashed in Pennsylvania.

Although I'm fortunate enough to have not personally known a victim of 9/11, the events of that day hit very close to home.

Two of my close friends lost both parents - one pair had just concluded their vacation and was actually flying back to Maryland from LA on the flight that was flown into the Pentagon. One friend lost an uncle who served as a firefighter with the FDNY. Another lost a best friend - a DEA agent who happened to be assigned to New York.

You see, majority of students at Maryland are from Maryland and have family and/or friends who work for the federal government in some capacity. Lots of people know people who work at the Pentagon. Also, 1 out every 4 students at Maryland is from New York or New Jersey. Lot and lots of people in that room and on campus lost family and friends that day.

This is typically where I would insert my jaded and pointed opinion about how the Bush administration handled (is handling) this circumstance. Not today.

Today is about remembering the lives of everyone that was lost on 9/11 and honoring the fallen heroes and heroines who gave their lives to help others and protect our country at home and abroad.


Writing this post made me realize that in addition to 9/11, I experienced a bunch of tragic incidents during college. In addition to September 11th, I experienced the following tragedies as an undergraduate:

September 24, 2001 - A F-3 tornado rips through central Maryland and right through the middle of Maryland's College Park campus. Note the path the storm cleared in the picture above. It literally went right through the middle of campus.

Two sisters were killed 50+ others were injured. School was closed for a couple of days as authorities cleared fallen trees, cleaned up debris and the like.

Former Maryland Basketball standout and All-ACC guard Steve Francis provided dinner and clothing to over 700 displaced students who were living in the Campus Recreation Center and $1 million of his own dollars to start the Maryland Tornado Recovery Fund.

October 2001 - Not many people remember the Anthrax attacks of 2001. I do.

I remember it because the Brentwood postal facility that routed the contaminated mail to Democratic Senators, Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy at the Hart Senate Office Building is located about 10 minutes away from where I lived at the time.

This was personally scary because my mail was routed through the same facility. Some of my bills went unpaid for about a month as a result.

October 2-24, 2002 - Imagine living in fear for 3 full weeks knowing that two fools are on the loose in your area and are executing victims at random. Imagine seriously fearing for your life while completing the most simple tasks like pumping gas, waiting for the bus or crossing the street. That's what life was like for me (and everyone else in the Baltimore-Washington-NOVA area) for much of October 2002.

The DC Sniper killing spree began on October 2, 2002 in Aspen Hill, MD - a county away from where I lived at the time. This was crazy because of how close to home and how random it was.

You may have heard it on TV, but people were genuinely afraid to go anywhere and do anything. Sporting events were canceled, stores were closed, festivals were postponed. It was nothing to see people walking in a zig-zag pattern to avoid being shot. Gas stations put up blue tarps around the overhead shelter above the pumps to shield patrons from being hunted.

My roommate woke me up at 7am one morning asking to use my cell phone to call home. The local news had just reported another shooting on a Metrobus on the line his Dad takes to get to the office. A few hours later he found out that his Dad was indeed alright.

I interned at a high school that was less than a quarter mile away from the elementary school were the sniper struck (but luckily didn't kill) a 8 year old kid. Each and every time I passed that building, I thought about that little boy and if the sniper would come back again and if I'd be next.

I remember one morning local news stations advised the public to be on the look out for a white cargo van. People were avoiding white cargo vans like the plague. Hell, I was terrified by every white cargo van I saw that day.

This was truly the most unnerving three weeks of my life.

The really scary part is what would have happened if they weren’t caught by police. Below is a synopsis of phase two of their plan as told by John Allen Muhammad:

“Phase Two was meant to be moved up to Baltimore, MD. Malvo described how this phase was close to being implemented, but never was carried out. Phase Two was intended to begin by killing a pregnant woman by shooting her in the stomach. The next step would have been to shoot and kill a Baltimore police officer. Then, at the officer's funeral, they were to create several improvised explosive devices complete with shrapnel. These explosives were intended to kill a large number of police, since many police would attend another officer's funeral.”

November 2, 2004 - After losing the Ohio electoral vote, Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry concedes the 2004 presidential election to incumbent George Bush. In what may be the most tragic event of them all, President Bush returned to office for a second term.


One Man’s Opinion said...

You be writing your ass off, boy. Good Job.

Mr. Jones said...

Haha...thank you. I try.

Anonymous said...

OK...I would have just packed up and left for the woods.

That Dude Right There said...

You really have me thinking sometimes! I'm now kinda glad that I went to school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama! NOTHING happened there!

Darius T. Williams said...

Great way to sum it all up. But, look at you now!

Anonymous said...

Too much going on in DC for me.

D.LavarJames said...

Man I will remember how I had just got to school myself when 9/11 happened, although in Kansas, I was terrified.

And I had just moved here a few weeks b4 the sniper shootings. That was one scarey time that almost had me pack my crap and move back home!

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add, President Bush returning for a second term is a very good thing. Glad he did it!

Mr. Jones said...

Captain - Please list 5 examples of ways in which America is a better place as a result of 2 Bush terms.

- The economy is down ($1USD = $0.72 Euro - that's insane)

- The military is spent (we certainly can't handle another war at the moment)

- Significantly more people hate us around the globe than ever before (you couldn't pay me to travel to some countries post-9/11)

- 50% of Americans feel no safer now than they did on September 11th.

Tim said...

yo mr jones, this was one very good entry man...and i agree with what you said about how the son-of-a-bush has pretty much screwed the country since he's been in office.

i've had to add you to my blogroll man...thanks for checkin my blog out by the way....

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