20 years after being the victim of a major attack, which in a just world would have taught Americans that violence is terrible to bear and shouldn’t be inflicted lightly. Instead we as a nation took the path of fear.
The lives taken on 9/11 have been used to justify so much more death and pain. So many lives ended that had nothing to do with those attacks. So many more grieving families and traumatized bystanders and responders. And twenty years later, the Taliban retakes Kabul.
My 9/11 story is unremarkable. I was a college freshman. I heard something on the radio about a plane hitting the WTC as I pulled into commuter parking that morning, and I thought they meant a small plane had had an accident. The sky was so clear and so blue.
Our professor (freshman theatre major seminar) interrupted our guest lecturer to tell us what had happened, looking harried and upset. The guest lecturer ran out to find a phone (yes, find a phone, cell phones were not yet ubiquitous) because he was visiting from NYC
We went home. I watched the news for a bit with my mom, then remembered I had signed up to give blood that day, weeks earlier. I went back to campus, joined the huge crowd that had formed for blood donation (it didn’t wind up being that needed—there weren’t enough survivors)
And we all watched on the giant screens at the HUB-Robeson Center as replay flew those planes into those towers again and again.

Class was canceled the next day. A friend couldn’t reach her family for two days and was packing all her black clothes because her dad worked at WTC
Luckily, it turned out he didn’t go to work that day. He was okay. The phone lines were just overloaded. Is that something younger people know about? We couldn’t effectively call anyone for days
That weekend I went to my part time gig at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, which only opened that week after much debate. I was glad we did it, though. It was the Scottish weekend and we had something like 50 bagpipers and at the end of the day they all played Amazing Grace
It was a sound that is impossible to describe, just a wall of grief and catharsis. Cast members cried and hugged. Audience members cried and hugged.

I think about that when I think about the bombs we’ve dropped on other countries since. How much pain and grief each one causes
The next year at Faire I got to know a new cast member who used to be a firefighter in NYC. He was full of anger and grief even a year later—his two best friends, twin brothers, had heard what had happened when they were off duty and ran to help. They didn’t make it out.
And I also think about him when I think about the bombs we drop. He was ready to fight the whole world. If someone had stuck a gun in his hands, he might have tried. How many of him are made with every attack?
Even as an 18 year old the idea of a “war on terror” seemed fundamentally flawed to me. You can’t punish and bully your way out of being seen as the world’s bully.

And, well. We’ve seen how well it went. I wish I thought the lesson would be learned.
I didn’t start this thread with any goal in mind or major statement I wanted to make. It’s just been a tweet at a time. Everything that could be said about 9/11 has already been said. I have told these inconsequential stories before.
There are buildings there now, and a museum, but in 2003 or so when my film acting class went to visit NYC I stopped by the WTC site out of a sense of duty. It was just a massive hole in the ground, still filled with rubble at the bottom, with a thin guard rail
And that still feels to me like the best memorial. An abrupt, shocking hole in some of the most valuable ground in the country. I haven’t been back since. Back in New York, yes, but not to there.
I’m glad there are clouds today. The sky is blue behind them, but not so piercingly blue as all that. It’s a nice September day, but it’s not that same sky.

I think that’s enough for today.

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More from @LouisatheLast

15 Sep
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