Sunday, March 29, 2009

#5. My Collegiate Life - Reality Check

There are certain days we will always remember. Be them good days, be them bad. Good days, such as a wedding day or a graduation day, are always cherished and reminiscent stories are always shared. Bad days, we always remember where we were and what we were doing when the bad news broke. We look back on bad days as ways we can change our lives to make us better people. What happens though when your naive outlook on the world is suddenly destroyed? The day in which I'm referring is September 11, 2001. Unlike, most of my peers in Whitewater, this day hits me a little harder, the reason a little different than one might think.

You ever get a phone call you won’t ever forget? A phone call where everything just sounds so, unreal, the words you hear are comprehended but your mind doesn’t make sense of anything. I woke up for my Econ class around 8:00. It was the 2nd week and things already seemed routine, another sunshiny day. Shortly after I awoke, as I was getting ready, I get a call from my dad. He lets me know that one of my classmate’s from high school was in a car accident on his way to work with his dad. My classmate, Clint, didn’t survive, his dad was in pretty serious condition. Now Clint, I considered a friend. We in no ways were best friends, but we shared both good times and rough times in the past, and we always liked to share a laugh at those times over a few brews.

I was obviously rattled by this news. I was 18 years old and had a feeling of invincibility about me at all times. I had experienced death, but not this young, this just wasn’t right. Obviously, not too much had been known at that point in time, so my dad could only answer so many questions. Things couldn’t get much worse on this day.

After we talked about Clint’s accident for about 5-10 minutes, my dad asked if I had the TV on. I did not as I had just woken up a little bit before and rarely turned the TV on in the morning anyways. He suggested I turn it on and never really explained. We got off the phone and I flipped the TV on. What the hell!

The images I just saw for the first time were the images that all Americans alive will always remember for the rest of their lives. By the time I turned on the TV, both of the World Trade Centers were engulfed in flames and it was known that two aircraft had flown into them in an obvious act of terror. We all know how the story goes, but my mind already in a haze over the news of Clint was just racing every which way.

The dorms were starting to stir now with people; most I don’t think realized what was happening yet. I call a few people who were out in the hallways to come in and watch this as I knew it was something of monumental importance. We were just watching these burning towers trying to make sense of what was happening, and it was obvious CNN was trying to make sense of things as well, desperate for information to report to the obviously stunned public. Then the news broke that The Pentagon had a large explosion, and that it was yet another commercial airliner. Jesus Christ, there is a full scale attack against us!

I still had class to get to. It was only the 2nd week of classes and I had not yet learned that class is quite optional, so I continue getting ready with an eye on the TV, and then a sight I was never expecting happened, one of the tower’s just completely collapsed! I paused for a few minutes in shock over what I just saw, but then I had to get going.

I don’t remember walking to class, as I am sure I had too much information to process. Thoughts over what was going to be hit next? When I return from class, is there going to be a Washington D.C. left? Are we going to be going into war? I do remember my class though. You can take a guess what we talked about the entire time. When the professor brought it up right away, not everyone had heard the news yet. We spent the entire time theorizing the who’s and the why’s. Being an economic class, we talked about how this could affect the economy. I was sort of upset that a) he didn’t let us go early b) there was no TV to watch the developing story unfold. When I got back to the dorm, the announcement was made that all classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. Little good that did me, I was done with mine.

When I did get back to the dorm, I made a few phone calls to some friends about Clint. I spoke with my friend Alicia, who was going to school in Madison, for a while about everything. She had not heard the news about Clint yet and was shocked to hear that on top of everything else that was happening. I sort of felt bad breaking that news to her, but hell, I needed someone to talk to and Alicia was always there for me in the past. The rest of the day was just spent watching TV with everyone. We were all in shock.

I fully believe that the events of that day helped to humble me as a person. Only being 18, I never completely lost that feeling of invincibility, but I did learn that you can’t take life for granted, and that you should live your life to the fullest. This is a philosophy that I certainly utilized throughout school and maintain still to this day.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Great post.

It's not very often that we remind ourselves how much we value and respect life in this world.

Ahh crap, to get deep here...

We have been so fortunate, through the actions of generations past and present, to live in a nation which first and foremost respects our life. We very much take that for granted.