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Remembering Sept. 11

September 11, 2013 - Mitch Rupert
I didn't think anything of the news coming from the radio. The DJs merely said a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings.

It sounded like an accident the way they described it. It was described as nothing more than maybe pilot or mechanical error and a small plane hitting an iconic landmark of New York City.

I was driving up the hill to upper campus of Bloomsburg University, in my freshman year. The world was a relatively peaceful place when I woke up that morning – or maybe I was just naïve. By the time I left campus, I realized I knew nothing of the world I inhabited.

Sitting in a literature class of some kind, we were having a class discussion about something we had read and another professor burst into our room to say the Pentagon was hit. The room was confused. Nobody had even know the second tower had been hit, let alone a government building.

The Internet as we know it now was in its infancy. Access to CNN's Web site, or any other news organization, was virtually impossible. Some 200 million people around the United States were trying to do access the same site at the same time. The Internet was virtually worthless that day, even on a college campus.

Information was scarce as my professor kept the discussion going for a few minutes before giving up. She led us, instead, on a discussion of why this happened and what it's impact would be. I had two thoughts during the discussion: 1, I now knew what my grandparents likely felt the morning Pearl Harbor was attacked, and 2. Where was my dad?

My dad works a government job in a building I was worried was next on the list of targets. I asked my professor if I could leave to try and get ahold of someone who could tell me Dad was OK. She asked me why I hadn't left sooner.

I walked toward the building where I knew my sister had class. She apparently had the same idea because we met halfway in between. With my old brick of a cell phone we were able to get ahold of my step-mother who told us Dad was fine. She said he likely wasn't going to be home for a couple days but he'd call when he got a few minutes just to tell us he was OK.

I remember skipping my next class. The school hadn't yet canceled classes for the rest of the day, but the last thing I wanted to do was try to figure out how to do some kind of trigonometry with so many other thoughts running through my head.

I stayed glued to the TV the rest of the day, trying to make sense of what happened. Twelve years later, I still don't know I've ever made sense of what happened that day.

I worry today's children, those born to friends my age, won't understand why Sept. 11 carries such a special, and somber meaning. As a kid, I had no concept of what the Pearl Harbor attacks really meant, other than it was an answer on a test somewhere during my trip through school. I worry the United States' youngest generation is going to have that same ignorance.

It's on us as the people who lived through that day to teach today's youth why this day is so meaningful. It's on us to teach them what it means to have pride in their country, to have love for their country and all those who inhabit it.

It's on us to make sure that nobody forgets that day. Those of us who lived through it, cried through it, thought through it and relive it each year on this day have a responsibility to make sure this day never fades from consciousness. Don't let it be a blip on the radar, merely pages glossed over in a history book as a fact remembered for a test.

Make the day come to life for those who don't remember it or weren't alive for it. As best you can, make our children understand how and why this could happen, even if 12 years later you may still not.


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