It's a dreary, damp morning here in Oneonta, and my thoughts have turned to reflecting on the events of September 11, 2001.
A Day That Started Like Any Other
On 9/11, I was a 22 year old college student living in downtown Oneonta. Ironically, my old apartment is right next door to the studio I work in now. Of all the memories made in that space, the events of 9/11 will always take a front seat. It was a Tuesday morning like any other, early in the semester. Being a more senior student, my classes started later, and I had the luxury of sleeping in past 8am. I was up and about by the time Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower, but completely unaware of what was happening. In 2001, we rocked big, chunky phones that made calls and texting was brand new, we weren't glued to tech yet.
After Flight 11 crashed, my phone rang. It was my friend Didem who at the time lived in Fort Lee, NJ. It was odd to be getting a call at that hour from her. Confused, I answered the phone. "Turn on the TV, now". The images I saw at that moment are now imprinted in my memory as I'm sure they are for so many others. After talking with her for a minute, I tuned in to CNN. Within moments, I witnessed Flight 175 collide with the South Tower. I sat on the end of my bed, glued to the screen. Over the course of the next two hours, I watched the towers collapse, and being a downstater, frantically called home. We lived in the suburbs, but my father owned a glass business and worked all over the city. Though it took hours to get out of the city, he was away from Ground Zero and home safe.
I went on to my work study job at SUNY Oneonta in one of the dining halls. I spent a good amount of time on the phone with my friend Marc, also from Fort Lee. Being close to the area, he filled me in on what was happening. We also went back and forth quoting Mars Attacks!, it was the only way we found to cope with the horrors of the day.
The SUNY campus was somber and on edge throughout the day. We kept asking each other if our families were ok and out of harm's way. The night of 9/11 brought an impromptu gathering to the central part of the SUNY campus. We came together to listen to speeches by people who had information, and to generally find comfort in each other's company. We knew it was a day that would change the world, and we'd never be the same going forward.
We learned that the Oneonta Police Department had sprung into action that morning, sending officers to Ground Zero right away to aid the local first responders after the Port Authority Police had put out a request. So many came together to selflessly give that day.
Today, SUNY Oneonta has a beautiful memorial near the spot where we gathered that night to remember the seven alumni that perished as a result of the tragedy. As an announcer out of NYC noted on the radio this morning, no matter how much time passes, this day doesn't get any easier. I usually watch the reading of the names from Ground Zero, and can attest to that.
May we never forget.
9/11 Memorial in New York City