My 9/11

Just finished watching a powerful documentary on TLC about two heroes who managed to save dozens of lives from the North Tower of 9/11.  Those images of the towers coming down is still like nothing else.   What was always so weird about that actual day for me is that I had been awake for hours, but didn’t even learn of the events until after the towers came down.  I got up, walked the dog, and put the TV on Nickelodeon for then toddler David.  Got ready for work and headed into Texas Tech to teach around 10 (11 EDT, more than 2 hours after the first tower was hit).  Went into my office, checked my email, and saw an email from the department secretary that colleague Steve Saideman— then on a fellowship at the Pentagon– was okay.  We had been called by his wife.  I had absolutely no idea what this meant.  I remember trying to find people to ask why I should’ve been concerned about Steve.  Then, of course, I learned.  Surely, less traumatic than the experience of so many people watching it unfold on TV in real time.  What I wonder now is how did I now hear anything on the radio (I always listen while driving– CD that day?) and how did I not run into anybody to say something on the way to my office.

I had class that afternoon.  I remember– Voting and Public Opinion (just found my old syllabus from that day– the topic was presidential primaries).  Didn’t really know what else to do, so I went ahead and taught class almost as normal.  I always start every class with current events, so we actually had an amazingly brief, amazingly sober, discussion of things.  I really think everybody was in too much shock and still processing.  Then we talked about presidential primaries.   In hindsight, that really seems crazy.   Deep thoughts and insights are best left to others, I just felt the need to share what I remember here.  [I will say listening to the stories of 9/11 firefighters on Fresh Air was really powerful].  And, I just hate that so few bad people can totally destroy the lives of so many good people.

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