September 11, 2021

Today, September 11, 2021, is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. I was a 21 year old college student. I remember almost everything from that day. I didn’t find out about the attacks until 10 AM Central time. I was up really late the night before working on a project for a class at the end of that week. Since I had no morning classes that Tuesday, I slept in. At 10 AM, my friend Matt knocked on my door. From the look on his face, I could tell something really bad happened. I went to his room (he had cable and I didn’t) and saw the replays of the World Trade Center attacks. Once I got over my shock, I told him, “We just went to war.” I skipped my afternoon speech class. There was a run on gas in our town. I had my weekly counseling session at the campus mental health center. I started going to those a year earlier when I was diagnosed with schizophernia.

In the days and weeks that followed, some of my classmates and instructors were talking that the draft might be brought back. One our college’s theology instructors was in his early twenties when Pearl Harbor happened. He said the mood in 2001 was very similar to the mood in 1941. We were expecting more attacks in the days and weeks afterward. I remember that one of my neighbors was afraid that the resulting wars would be very long and actually wind up hurting the US in the long term. Turns out he was right. I’m sorry I didn’t take him seriously until a few years later.

I had a cousin who served in Iraq in 2007. At least one of the members of his unit died over there. One of my college classmates who graduated two years ahead of me died over there too. Several of my high school friends served in those wars. My brother and his wife worked for a defense contractor whom did a lot of work for the Air Force. They still do. One of my cousins in California worked for another defense contractor.

An incredible amount has changed in twenty years. I was one of those angsty teenagers back in the 1990s. We were so naive in those days.