Yes, here’s another dedication. Well, not really a dedication but more of an offering to my own perspective of it on this day, 14 years after the U.S. got an up-close and very personal taste of large-scale conflict and destruction that goes on in the world. I don’t usually make a habit out of posting something at any given 9-11, but today I felt inspired.
On September 11, 2001 I was a 22 year-old young woman working at the exact same place I work now- at a hospital in Minnesota. Professionally and technically, nothing else changed on that particular day. I still did my job in the exact same manner as any other day- if nothing else we were extra diligent. The mood changed but as a support staff to the operating room, our job was to continue the level of care and expectations as well as comfort patients and family members as they waited on loved ones and watched the news just as we were.
I’ll admit I lost a little more of my innocence that day (along with every else). I was a huge fan of the R&B artist Aaliyah and had to suffer through her unexpected loss and funeral just the week before. By the evening on 9/11/01 my young heart was fed up with planes- as I watched Peter Jennings tirelessly give his all to report for 60 hours and give us news as we anxiously watched and waited.
I worked evening shift that day so after I found out that morning around 9:00 am CST, a few phone calls were received and made. After talking to loved ones regarding the whereabouts of a cousin in the NY area (which he was found to be okay) I was nervous about the rest of the people, just as the rest of the country and world was. Its hard to image a young adult being more glued to a TV than ever before, right? Everyone in the hospital who was able surrounded every TV set available at some point during that day.
In the days, weeks and months to follow, I found our country to be more united and more together than ever before. I found there were lesser issues of black vs. white, male vs. female than most other differences we currently have issues with- once again, now. We learned more about the Muslim religion and I learned they are peaceful versus the immediate reaction that they all mean harm/violence.
Years later in 2009 when I was taking and Art History course at St Kate’s- a private, Catholic College, my professor (Amy Hamlin) happened to be doing the dissertation for her PhD. in Manhattan in 2001. Several students must’ve been familiar with her 9/11 association and therefore she told us she would wait until the end of the semester to lecture on her personal story. When it was time, her personal story aligned with the that of Michael Richards, an artist who died in World Trade Tower One during the 9/11 attacks. Due to his artistry, Richards often used his own body to be cast in sculpture. One of these sculptures we had the privilege of having available for viewing at St. Kate’s. Richards had cast himself in the likeness of a Tuskegee Airmen and to see his body cast as an airman, knowing he ultimately died in such a tragic manner was humbling and the utmost respect was paid. It was hard for one’s eyes not to water upon seeing this life-size replica sculpture which has now found a permanent home near Taylor’s Falls, MN. My professor, Hamlin went on to give her chilling account of the events of that day which she described as going from ordinary to numbing. She ended up being one of the multiple thousands who had to walk over the George Washington bridge to get to safety. She described her accounts of eventually trying to call her parents and others to let them know she was okay. She described how quiet and numbing the experience was, how no one truly knew how to express the grief and enormity of what was happening at that time. No anger, no sadness, no grief- just silence for the time being.
Just as she won’t- I’ll never forget her account of actually being closest to ground zero. I know how people felt in the farthest reaches of our country as we were all one on that day. Regardless of political association, cause and whatnot- it was the innocent life we identified with. It was my innocence as a 22 year-old who had nothing to do with pretty much anything harmful to anyone- I had to come to terms with hate, once again. I also had the chance and opportunity to learn and display strength and true unity.
If you’d like to describe your ‘9/11 moment’ please feel free to comment. May we never forget the lives of those lost and their families. RIP.