Sunday, September 24, 2006


Five years ago, I was working on my undergraduate degree in history.It was a Tuesday morning. That's how I remember 9/11--because of the classes I had that day. I had HST (history) 518: Colonial America at 9:30am-10:45am and LLT 121: World Mythology at 11:00am-12:15pm. In order to get to school and find a parking place, I needed to get up at 7am. My alarm was set for that time but because I'd stayed up way too late the night before, I reset my alarm for 9am and skipped my first class.My alarm went off at 9am and because I had it set on radio instead of buzz (the buzz was too loud and would scare me), I heard the DJs talking about these two planes that had hit the World Trade Center in New York City.Caught between being awake and asleep, I thought it was a joke. I remember mumbling "That's not funny" and rolling over. They kept talking about it though, instead of admitting they were joking, so I thought maybe I'd better get up and see what was going on.I went into my living room and turned on the Today Show. Katie Couric told me it was no joke, that two planes had in fact crashed into the WTC and another had crashed into the Pentagon. I sat in stunned disbelief as she explained that the first tower had already collapsed, and a few minutes after I'd turned on the TV, to my horror the second tower collapsed. I saw this live and it has stayed with me for five years.My first thought after this was to call my mother. She was at work, of course, and when I got her on the phone I burst into tears. She began to cry too and we told each other "I love you."I remember Katie telling me that another plane was missing, a Delta flight, and another plane had crashed into a field in Pennsylvania--possibly headed for Washington.It was a nightmare that had crept into waking hours.I forgot about school and sat in front of my television all day long. Luckily I didn't have to work that night, or I probably would have called in sick. I did work the next day and bought a copy of the 9/12/01 New York Times. I still have it, along with other magazines from that week.The memories of that day have stayed with me and I think I'll remember what I was doing that day for the rest of my life. Psychologists call this phenomenon a "flashbulb memory"--from Wikipedia:A flashbulb memory is a memory laid down in great detail during a highly personally significant event, often a shocking event of national or international importance. These memories are perceived to have a "photographic" quality. The term was coined by Brown and Kulik (1977), who found highly emotional memories (e.g. hearing bad news) were often vividly recalled, even some time after the event. For example, a great many people can remember where they were when they heard of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 or the assassination of John F. Kennedy or John Lennon.I was in the World Trade Center in April 1995. I stood at the base of the towers, pointed my camera up to the sky, and took a picture.Unfortunately, I can't find the picture. Just spent thirty minutes trying to find it, but to no avail.I also took several pictures of the iconic Manhattan skyline.

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Don't think for me. Don't assume what I want to hear or read. Give me facts. Give me reasons. But not yours. Bring me debate. Enlighten me. Today, accountability is masked behind anonymity; bylines are hidden by zeros and ones. Everyone publishes; everyone is "in the know." Ethics are non-existent. Speculation is king. The truth is masked and a hostage. Empowered by our minds, WE ARE THE FREAKSPEAKERS!


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