nine eleven | september 12, 2009


september 11, ground zero, anniversary, world trade centerI must have watched five hours of 9/11 coverage on the History Channel yesterday, into the wee hours of the morning. When the towers fell, eight years ago, I was on leave from Stanford, in my Intro to African-American History class at Spelman College. I think class started at 9am because, on his way in, Professor Cobb announced that the World Trade Center was under attack and pushed a television up to the front of the room.

We watched the second tower get hit and then he gave a lecture on the Arab-Israeli conflict, certain that these were acts of terrorism. Some of it I remembered from global studies in high school, but it was all somewhat foreign and surreal given the circumstances.

I was somewhat detached and in my head about the carnage of that day. I had spent the summer in Accra, doing plant research at the University of Ghana-Legon, training with an amateur dance troupe, and suffering from -- what I now know as -- a severe bout of malaria drug-induced depression.

My emotions were fairly blunted, and I don't really remember feeling all that sad. Probably why I watched so obsessively yesterday, and felt like I was seeing it all for the first time.

Having now lived in New York for five years, I finally made it in to St. Paul's Chapel, across the street from Ground Zero, last weekend. I looked at all the photos and memorials, watched a few video tributes, then sat down to say a prayer. It's hard to really fathom how many people died in the planes, in the towers, in the Marriott Hotel down below.

I have come to appreciate our uniquely myopic view of ourselves as the center of the world. Our faith in the subways and skyscrapers and cranes, whose failure or sabotage can fell thousands upon thousands of people. I salute those of us who keep the faith. I salute those who died, those who helped clean up, those of us who ensure the security of an unwieldy mass of people, and those of us who defend our civil liberties against political tyranny. I also salute those who foresaw, in our governmental restructuring after 9/11, the impending failure to respond to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. And finally, I salute the Hurricane Katrina victims, responders, and survivors.

If you could write a moment of silence in a blog, this would be it...

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  1. great article, nice blog too. i like most your post, i think i will visit your blog often.

    -cathy young


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