It was a beautiful, clear, crisp late-summer morning in mid-September. There was not a cloud in the sky and the sunshine seemed particularly bright and warm. I was busy going about my usual routine in the computer engineering lab at work. The typical hustle and bustle of the office was serving its usual purpose of creating just the right amount of white-noise to break the deafening silence that the lab could be immersed in.
My coworker, who would frequently drop odd-ball comments at me while passing my desk, had a particularly interesting thing to say this day. It was about 8:50 am when he walked by and said ‘A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center’. Of course, a statement like that awoke me from my working stupor, and I immediately had the picture of a small single-engine private plane that had wandered off-course hitting the side of the building. So I asked him (he’s a pilot by the way), “Was it a Cessna?” His response was chilling… “No, it was a jetliner”!
The image in my head rapidly changed. What? A Jetliner? How could that happen? Had it had engine trouble or hydraulic failure? What could possibly have lead to a plane hitting such a populated place?
At that time, our network operations center had a huge wall of video screens for monitoring the network. Several of the screens, though, would have news stations on all the time. So, I locked down my PC and headed up there to see what was going on. The first tower already had a large trail of smoke coming out of it. I watched in amazement, still not believing what I was seeing. It was probably about 5 minutes later, when I watched in real time as the 2nd plane hit the other tower. I became terrified. What was going on?
After standing and watching in amazement as both towers eventually came tumbling down, and the pentagon was hit, I heard the news of a 4th plane missing and suspected to be over Pennsylvania. The terror was officially hitting close to home, I thought. I left work. I didn’t say a word to anyone, I just left work. All I could think about was getting home to my girls. Who knew what else was going to happen. How many more attacks were about to take place.
During the seemingly eternal ride home, I found myself looking towards the skies, wondering if the next plane I saw was going to come crashing down here. Obviously, that did not happen, but I had never experienced anything like that in my life, so I didn’t know how to process it all. The fear was real. It was intense.
I remember, later that evening, after spending the whole day watching the horror on the news, sitting outside and listening. For the first time that I could remember in my life, there was no sound of planes flying over. It was creepy and surreal.
September 11th, 2001 changed a lot of things in my mind. It started me on a very difficult journey of self-discovery and introspection. It was a journey which wound its way through some very dark valleys over the following several years. But, once I found my way through the darkness, I feel I’m a better person for it. I would much rather; of course, it never had to have happened that way. I will never forget 9/11, as should none of us.
Lately, I’ve been trying to avoid throwing my family and close friends ‘under the bus’ here. Even under the guise of anonymity. However, sometimes things happen that really make that unavoidable.
Last night on Facebook, my little brother (who is 18 years old) posted this as part of his status:
“Bad news: I got suspended from xbox live until the 9th because of my racism towards mexicans…. FML -_-“
There were a few comments already on it before I got to read through, so he explained later what happened:
“well the people that work for xbox live did lol. People (mexicans) reported me for my extreme racist language and xbox found my bio which stated… “i wouldve been your daddy but a f×××ing mexican beat me over the fence! KEEP THE U.S. …CLEAN!” lol”
and then a little further down, this little tidbit:
“Haha well it’s funny 😛 they’re durrrrrrty lol. Jk it’s not even that serious. I’m pissed! I wanna play so bad -_-“
What’s most surprising to me is that HIS comments weren’t even really the worst part of the whole thing. What was worse was the comment from one of my mother’s Christian friends towards the end of the thread:
“Are you serious??? Don’t tell my mom about this. She’s in Orlando and she hates the Lutino’s except the “nice, productive” ones in her church. It’s bad down there. I can see it now. 91 year old great great gramma suspended from Xbox…. Why is it okay for them to slam us??? Get all the free healthcare, housing, foodstamps, jobs, social security when they haven’t paid into it. They drive drunk without licenses and kill people. Should see them in Walmart, 5 – 6 children running through the store and the mom pulls out an EBT card. They are rude. They’ve already refused to wait on my mom at a convenience store because my mom didn’t speak Spanish!!!”
I made sure to comment and let her know how racist her remarks were. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with this person on this issue either. Earlier this summer, at my brother’s graduation party, I got cornered by her and her husband (who is even MORE over the top racist and hateful) and they IMMEDIATELY dragged me into a conversation about illegal immigration and basically made it known that they believe ALL Hispanic people are illegal and should be thrown out of the country. I mean c’mon! These people CONSTANTLY tout their Christianity for everyone to see. This lady finishes EVERY Facebook post with: /Jesus Loves You. Am I wrong, or is this not the HEIGHT of hypocrisy? What happened to Love your Neighbor? What happened to Christian tolerance and acceptance? What happened to Let he who is without sin cast the first stone? My brother can ALMOST be excused. He’s 18, and while he SHOULD know better, my mother has kept him around people like this for his whole life so far. He doesn’t really know anything else (though any opportunity I get I try to speak up and show him how messed up his thinking is).
You know, maybe the system is broken in this country and needs reformed. Maybe the immigration laws need to be restructured so that it’s NOT so difficult to get citizenship here. I don’t have the answers. But what I DO know is that this kind of divisive thinking and attitude is only going to make things worse. I wasn’t around for it, but these comment seem a lot like how things were before the civil rights movement, just directed at a different group of people.
I’m deeply saddened by this mentality! 😦