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A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

I was born on December 7th, otherwise known as Pearl Harbor Day. When I was in fourth grade, the teacher was talking about Pearl Harbor Day, and I was so excited when I realized that was my birthday, I raised my hand and said, That’s my BIRTHDAY!

No it’s not, the teacher said.

Yes, it is, I insisted. I might not have been in a family that celebrated birthdays, but I certainly knew which day of the year I could tick off another year of my life!

You’re too young to be born in 1941, the teacher said with a grin, and went back to her lesson. Being quiet and shy, I just wish she’d not so purposefully deflated my balloon.

I suppose my birthday should bring with it a lot of joy and happiness, but I can’t help but be kind of introspective on that day. Invariably there’s an article in the paper about the few surviving veterans, and what the day is all about.

Pearl Harbor Day.

A date which will live in infamy.

I think September 11th will be a similar day to my generation. We all know where we were when we found out about it. We all know how it felt. Anyone born on September 11th will no doubt feel a little like I do: happy to be alive, sorry that every year they are acutely aware of why that day is famous.

Will Entrekin wrote an excellent essay on what he was doing on September 11th (all proceeds from sales will be donated to the United Way New York City.)…why don’t you go read it and then come back and tell me what you were doing on September 11th. I’ll go first.

I had to go to work that day, as usual. I had a roommate who tends to exaggerate, so when she told me in shock that something had happened in New York, I was pretty sure it “wasn’t that bad” and told her so, rushing off to work. On my way there, the morning show I listened to was talking about it, and they kept repeating Oh my god, oh my god. Could this really be happening, I wondered? They couldn’t talk about anything else, and shortly after I got to work, my boss, who worked out of his home, let me watch the news coverage of the attack. Everything seemed surreal. I secretly hoped he’d let me go home, but I never asked and he never offered. I wanted to go home because I didn’t feel right doing something, anything, when so many people’s lives had just been flipped upside down.

September 11th  is my generation’s date which will live in infamy.

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20 Responses to “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”

  1. Amanda

    Great post!

    I’d kind of odd because my husband’s birthday is today. So it’s one of those weird happy/sad days for us. And we now live in New York City which makes it even weirder. I tend to focus on the positive so I keep having to remember what day it is because I’m planning things with my husband for his birthday.

    What was I doing that day when I heard? I have to say that I have to be one of the only people who didn’t see it on television. My brother and I were both going to college and living with our mom to save money. We were also sharing a car. And my mom didn’t have television (wow writing that we sound super poor…). So I was getting ready to drive my brother to work that morning when my brother told me something was going on. We found on on the Internet and listened to the radio as we were driving. Someone finally brought in a little portable B&W television so we could see it on TV but the reception wasn’t too good. We didn’t see the news until later on that night. My friend had just moved to Newark a few years earlier so I was frantically emailing her making sure she was ok. The oddest thing is that I had received a post card from her from one of her sight seeing trips to the city the day before. It was of the city skyline with the twin towers and she had been up to the observatory. I still remember the terror of everyone thinking…what’s going to happen next.

    Living here and going near actual site is a very somber experience. It really is a day that will live in infamy.


  2. Bobbi's Book Nook

    Although I live far away from New York and Washington, DC, I feel the pain of 9-11 just like other Americans. That feeling of impending doom, depression and anger, all rolled up into a date on the calendar. I agree, this day will live on in the lives of our generation.


  3. Jen Forbus

    I was also working that day. I was teaching – 11th grade English. One of our social studies teachers came into my room and told me to turn the television on that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.

    We turned on the television, which was controlled from the library, but set to the news covering the horrors. We watched as the second plane crashed and as the towers were falling.

    I remember it as though it were yesterday…this morning even. All I could think was this isn’t real. How can this be happening. To this day I simply can’t fathom the hate it took to kill so many innocent people.

    Today I’m simply reminded of how great a miracle I think it would be if we could stop all the violence. We as a nation have countered violence with more unnecessary violence. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could bring it all to an end and bring our soldiers home?


  4. Meghan

    I was in high school. The boy who was to be my first boyfriend in a few months showed me the pictures and I didn’t believe him, not even when another boy said he’d heard about it already. I didn’t believe it had happened until our teacher that period told us so, and we spent the entire period talking about it. We didn’t go home early, although a lot of kids were pulled out of school by relations – probably because one of their parents worked in NYC. I lived in the NJ suburbs. I remember sitting in the gym remembering that my grandma, who was dying of lung cancer, lived in the city, and worrying that it was affecting her (it didn’t).

    I did not know personally anyone who died, but I had friends and mentors who did. It was a very hard time.


  5. Swapna

    Unfortunately, today is my husband’s birthday…

    I was just at home – it was two days before I was supposed to leave for college in Chicago. My mom called and told me to turn on the news. I really thought it was some sort of sick joke because my brain just couldn’t process it. And I almost didn’t leave for school because the Sears Tower was a target and my parents (and everyone else’s) were so on edge.


  6. Rebecca

    I wrote about this in my BTT post today. I was in my third week of college in Chicago and saw the first plane hit while I watched the morning news on my way to class…I came back a few hours later, and the whole world had changed.


  7. melanie

    i was pregnant with my 2nd little and trying to get out of the house. but i sat to catch my breath and watched the Today show. and then i didn’t move for the next 12 hours. we knew people or knew people who knew people in those places. it is still unbelievable to me, and feels like it just happened.


  8. Alyce

    My son opened his birthday presents this morning. He was born 3 years after it happened. It’s nice to have a spot of joy on this day of rememberance.


  9. Heather J.

    Wow, what a birthday. Here’s what I wrote about this today.


  10. Becky

    You’re so very right. We’ll not soon forget this.


  11. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    What a wonderful post about remembrance!


  12. donstuff

    I was a middle school principal and was walking around the school, getting ready for the kids to start arriving when my wife called on my cell phone and told me to find a TV and turn to just about any channel. All of our classrooms had TVs, so many of the teachers let it run through the day.


  13. Ladytink_534

    I was in 9th grade and the principal, vice-principal, and a few teachers walked into classrooms interupting lessons by turning on the TV. It stayed on the news all day and the whole school was in shock. Lots of people went home so by the end of the day the few people who remained just stayed in what classrooms they wanted to, mainly huddled with friends.


  14. Will Entrekin

    Thanks for that mention, Trish. The support means a lot.


  15. Jill

    I was working on the second-to-the-top floor of the largest building in Alabama, at the headquarters of a bank here in Birmingham, and I heard it on the radio on my way in to work. The local morning show hosts were kind of joking about it…and then it became serious when they started realizing the enormity of the situation.


  16. Cynthia Conciatu

    I’m one of three in my family who were born on 9/11 – my birthday does live in infamy now. It used to be a regular, ordinary, run of the mill, plain Jane day. It took a while to come to tems with how to celebrate the day; remember always, but celebrate life!


  17. donstuff

    I should also mention that tonight at dinner my daughter reminded us that we have family friends with two daughters. The oldest was born on Dec. 7 and the youngest on Sept. 11. Strange. Now I have an urge to look up the whole Kennedy/Lincoln comparison thing.


  18. girasoli

    It is also my birthday today. I could not celebrate it at all for years, but finally have been able to reclaim my day the past couple of years and publicly talk about it this year.

    I was sleeping when the attacks began. It was 2:48 in the morning here in Hawaii. A friend called me about 5:30 and woke me up. I was glued to the TV until I had to leave for work. I am a preschool teacher. My students gave me the tiny respite of normalcy on that day. We also heard the fighter jets flying over head for a few hours in the morning since there were commercial jet planes still headed our way from Asia (they took off after the attacks). Once they all landed safely, the fighter jets stopped flying.


  19. Bookfool, aka Nancy

    Shame on your teacher for getting pleasure out of deflating your joy. My youngest was born on December 7, also (as was my childhood sweetheart, but we won’t go there).

    On Sept. 11 in 2001, I was on my way to the park for a morning walk. I never, ever turn on the radio but my husband had left it on in my car and for some reason I didn’t immediately turn it off (I hate radio chatter). They were talking about a “small plane” that had hit one of the Twin Towers, really being kind of silly about how it was like when Bugs Bunny hits something and the outline of Bugs and the plane is left behind, when news came in that a second plane had hit and both planes were large passenger planes. The tone changed completely — no more jokes, it looked like an attack on the US. I thought, “No, that can’t be right.” I flashed my card at the park ranger, turned around and drove back home, where I was glued to the TV for hours.

    It was the Pentagon attack that nearly did me in. My husband was supposed to have been in the Pentagon, but there was a last-minute change of plans and he missed the meeting. When I saw photos of the Pentagon, I called hubby and even my unflappable husband was distressed. He had friends who had gone in his place. They work with the Department of the Army and that was the side that was hit (they were okay, although they would have been in that wing — a bad prostrate and a missed train saved them). Then, I heard that one of the planes flew out of Newark, NJ and I was worried about my friend M, so I called him and got voice mail. As it turned out, he’d gotten on a plane in Newark, but it was not the doomed plane (although he did get stuck in Atlanta and had quite a miserable drive home — and his boss was on the other Newark flight and killed). You’re right; it was one of those days that stick in your mind, forever. I remember exactly where I was when the Challenger space shuttle blew up, also.


  20. Bobbi

    I’d just returned to my house after an exercise class at the Y; my middle son called. (The son who was living in Oklahoma City when the Murrah Building was bombed.) He asked if my youngest son and his wife were all right. (They both work in Manhattan.) I asked why he was concerned, and he said, “Turn your TV on.” That was shortly after the first plane hit. He said he’d been trying to reach his brother’s cell phone, but couldn’t get through. So I started calling, too, all the while glued to the TV. Amber called a few hours later, assuring me that she and David were fine, and neither of them had been anywhere near the towers.

    Your eyes and your brain see and process the images, but your heart simply refuses to accept them as true…they CANNOT be true. When the towers fell, it reminded me of scenes in a lot of disaster movies…the billowing clouds of smoke, the people running…but those were movies, and this was horribly real.

    I watched for hours, late into the nights, waiting for the rescue of the hundreds (please, God, thousands!) of people they’d surely find in a protected area, an air pocket, a subway tunnel. Instead, days passed and hope faded. Heartbreaking images of people with homemade signs with photos and descriptions of their loved ones. Exhausted rescue workers and their dogs, all covered with that awful layer of dust. Images of people far away, on another continent, cheering as news of the death and destruction was announced.

    I’ll never understand HOW it happened. I’ll never understand WHY it happened. All I know DID happen, and my world will never be the same.


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