Where Were You?
C. Derick Miller – Head Writer
Your Stories on Video
I remember it as though it were yesterday but, in fact, it’s officially been twenty years! Back in my military days, I was one of those soldiers who was bold enough to say aloud on several occasions that no other power in the world has the gumption to attack us on our own soil. A little over a year after I had taken off that uniform, the world proved me wrong.
I was working as a site team leader for a telecommunications company called Nortel Networks. Some of you may remember them because their name was plastered all over the boards at just about every professional hockey game that came on television! They were rocking the scene for a while but then somehow, someway folded like a cheap card table. I’d love to know the details someday but it’s probably no different that any other large, successful company who went the way of the dinosaurs. Someone was double dipping, and it eroded the company from the inside. Isn’t that the way it always goes?
I was on the phone with Fed Ex about getting some tools shipped to my upcoming job site in Boston when the man on the other end of the phone told me it might be a while with all the nonsense going on in New York City. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I inquired. He stated that some idiot had accidentally flown a plane into one of the World Trade Center buildings. I agreed with the idiot part, ended the phone call, and headed to my living room to see what all the fuss was about on television.
Just as I flipped on the television, the second plane smashed into the other tower! LIVE! On my television. America was officially under attack and my jaw hit the floor. I ran as quickly as I could, crying all the way, to inform my (now ex) wife of what was going on and that she needed to see this with her own eyes. She looked at me as though I was stupid and rolled over in bed. Was I overreacting? The country I had so recently volunteered to fight for was getting a black eye. I was terrorized!
I jumped into my car and headed to the school where my children attended. Now, some of you may disagree with this decision but hear me out. After all, I was only twenty-seven years old when this whole thing went down and obviously not playing with a full deck. I wanted to take my young kids out of school so that they could come home and watch these events unfold before their very eyes. At some point in their lives, a child or a grandchild was going to ask then what they remember about the events of September 11th, 2001, and I wanted them to be able to explain that they saw it all. They didn’t just read it from some damned history book. They saw it all. In hindsight, I’m fortunate that they didn’t care what was going on and immediately went to their room to play, happy to be home rather than in school.
Then…the buildings began to fall. People were running for their lives in any direction they could, and smoke and debris filled the streets of Manhattan. I’d officially seen enough. I drove to my nearest Army recruiter’s office and told them I wanted back in. Now. I knew at some point that we would be retaliating for this attack, and I wanted to be directly involved. Both fortunately and unfortunately, my knees prevented my re-entry and a ton of other young Americans beat me to the punch. In the grand scheme of things, I eventually stayed home and helped raise my children to the best of my abilities rather than die in the sand in Afghanistan at some point over the next twenty years. I’m sure they appreciate it much more.
In the days that followed, I recall no planes in the sky and it brought on a bit of weirdness since we lived right in the flight path of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. I remember the world coming together to lend a hand to our American wounded pride and, for a brief moment in time, it didn’t matter who you were, where you came from, how much money you had, or what color your skin was. My god, how I wish that feeling had lasted.
Again, I made a statement out loud and again the world proved me wrong. I said that this could very well be the turning point in the history of the world where we would all come together regardless of wealth and race and fight for the common good. I was wrong. The last twenty years since the coming together of everyone after 9/11 not only faded into obscurity, but it intensified. I truly believe this country is more divided than it’s ever been, apart from the civil war, and it saddens me more deeply than a dozen 9/11 attacks combined. It’s my personal opinion, of course, and I’m totally entitled to it, the same as you’re entitled to yours.
The only thing I’ve really learned from all of this is to stop making predictive statements about the state of our world out loud. Every single time, it seems as though the world is out to prove me wrong. Lesson learned. I’ll just keep it all to myself! In the last twenty years, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to New York City at least fifty times. Three of those times have been on a 9/11 anniversary. The world may have forgotten, but New Yorkers haven’t. Guaranteed. I invite you to go and see it with your own eyes.
Where were you and what were you doing on the day our American world stopped turning? Were you scared? Angry? Do seeing the events unfold again on television year after year still upset you in the same way it did when those towers fell, or have you simply gotten used to it all with the ever-unfolding events from the last handful of years? Now, I’m not speaking from a political standpoint, so I don’t really want any comments involving that, but I want to know about how you feel as a human being. A life force on this planet dealing with the horrors of hate. Here at Your Stories on Video, we want to know. We also want you to know that we do these projects as a labor of love. We love what we do, and we love who we’re doing it for. We love YOU. After all, there aren’t enough falling towers and hatred to overthrow the power of love.
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