I remember walking into 9th-grade homeroom. In the memory, there is a TV but I suspect that much is false, perhaps a fragment mixed in due to how I perceived the whole tragedy.
They say that the vivid memories from that day are often false or half true. Something to do with the way our minds have to reconstruct the memory every time we recall it.
Reconstructing it now I see the TV in a brightly lit homeroom. It dawns on me nearly 20 years later that I experienced the whole thing through a TV screen. Coming home after school to watch the carnage on repeat.
In the lunch room comparing notes on how each of our parents were reacting. Some of us were pulled out as if our high school was next on the terrorist hit list, just under the Pentagon.
By this time in my life I was already cynical. Having watched Bush steal the election. Though I don’t recall if I were afraid. Was it too big to understand or was I still fresh faced enough to see the spectacle for what it was? I knew the chest pounding revenge seeking for what it was. I was pleased when we all came together. I was sad watching it all be torn apart by illegal wars of aggression.
One crime for another.
The Patriot Act and Authorization for Use of Military Force still in force 20 years on. This was the turning point. What adults said and what they did were at odds. A terrible crime followed more crime. The American people, on the whole, cheering all the way. Those who fought the wars and domestic spying programs lost. They were ridiculed and nothing changed.
It wasn’t the terrorists that destroyed something in me. It was my people. The adults who took advantage of the situation to commit their own crimes, the adults who sat by and allowed it to happen, and the adults who fought against it and lost.