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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11/2001 - Where were you?

So, September 11, 2001 - a day that changed the lives of many people immediately or later down the road with its repercussions. Do you remember where you were on that day? I imagine it's something that people will often be asked later - kind of like how we'll ask the older generations if they remember where they were when Pearl Harbor was bombed, when Kennedy was assassinated, or when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

I was on campus at the University of Missouri - Rolla doing some reading before my first class in the Engineering Management building. I had gotten bored with my textbook and decided to call my mom to see how she was since I still had plenty of time before class. I apparently called her right after the first plane hit the first tower and she was watching it on TV. Then the 2nd plane hit. My mom was describing to me what was going on on the TV and I couldn't believe it. I frantically searched my memory to try to see if anybody I knew from college worked in the WTC. I had to hang up with my mom after a little bit and go to class - an advanced writing course with Dr. Zepernick. She understood that people were upset, but she tried to carry on and teach class as normal. It was difficult but she succeeded.

After class, I went home to the house I shared with Marie, Vaz, Jay, and James. I think we were all glued to the TV for the rest of the morning and afternoon (until I got called in to work). A couple of the guys had even filled up a couple of water barrels used for camping with water and put them in the bathroom just in case all hell broke loose. I remember us all discussing who could possibly be behind this and what the possibilities of more attacks were and where. I also got called in to work at the Phillips station that I worked at because they were being overrun by people getting gasoline. People were afraid that it had something to do with Saddam and were worried about gas prices. The BP across the street was out of gas. We had a tanker on the way from St. Louis to fill us up, but we were low. Every employee that worked at the station was on duty that afternoon. To speed up the gassing process, a couple of people were outside taking cash payments and sending people on their way, using the intercom to call inside the store to tell use they had payment for a certain pump. Some gas stations were caught raising gas prices to almost $3/gallon and had to pay fines for it (gas was still hovering around the $1/gallon mark in Missouri).

An extremist terrorist group eventually claimed responsibility for the hijackings, and American patriotism reached an all-time high with the likes of Toby Keith singing about colors not running and little flags (made in China, mind you) being sold everywhere. With this patriotism also came hatred towards people that had nothing to do with the attacks. Students from Middle-Eastern countries and India (basically, if you had brown skin) attending UMR were put on alert and warned to watch out for people mistaking them from being from certain countries.

Since then, people all over the world have paid a heavy price for this event. Many Americans can't seem to differentiate a small group of extremist from the larger religion that they belong to and spout hatred towards them. Many American soldiers, Afghanis, and Iraqis have lost their lives (civilians and soldiers) needlessly. Air travel has become tedious and makes people feel like they're losing their privacy and freedom all for the sake of feeling secure. People directly affected by the hijackings are without their loved ones for no reason.

Many innocent people of all creeds, colors, and religions lost their lives on 9/11: the people working in the WTC, people in the Pentagon, brave emergency responders attempting to help people trapped in the buildings, and the people on American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77, and United Airlines Flight 93. Flight 93 was intended for the White House, but the brave passengers on that plane took it back and saved countless lives while knowing they were forfeiting their own. Many people mourned all over the world with the U.S. that day - people of all creeds, colors, and religions.

There are many lessons that we can take away from this horrible day in the U.S.'s history, but, to me, the most important is to love one another and not take each other for granted. No amount of hatred or war or fighting is going to erase what happened or bring back those lost. All we can do as a race, the human race, is look forward and help each other and love each other: put aside our differences and pettiness and make the world a better place for the future. Many of the people that lost their lives on 9/11 chose to call their loved ones and tell them how much the loved them in their final moments. So, I challenge every person that might read this post to not wait for a tragedy to do this: as we remember those that lost their lives on this day, tell your family and friends you love them. Tell them every day, don't take them for granted. Love each other and spread love, not hatred, to the future generations.