There are certain memories that become cemented in your mind. Certain events, times and places that when they happen, you know you are going to remember where you were and what you were doing at the time for the rest of your life when it occurred. You’ll remember even if you don’t understand why.
The viewing of the news feed of the attack on Sept. 11, 2001 is certainly one of those memories. According to an Aug. 2011 Pew Research survey, “97 percent of Americans who were at least eight years old when the attacks happened said they remembered exactly where they were or what they were doing when they heard the news.”
I was eleven years old at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks — it should be no surprise that I too am among those who remember exactly where I was.
Unlike many of my peers, I did not receive the news in a school building, having been homeschooled from elementary until high school. Instead, I was outside when my mother called me into the house.
As children we perceive the world in a very different way. Those who were adults at the time of the attack were stricken with fear and grief — and my mother was no exception. I remember watching her cry as she watched the news on the television as she tried to explain why she was crying and what had just happened. I remember trying to connect what I saw on the television to the reality of what she had said just occurred. What was still occurring.
Perhaps more than anything, I remember watching the second plane hit and jumping just slightly at how unexpected it had been. Watching the smoke at the time, I didn’t really understand what was going on, but I know I wanted to. I wanted to understand what had happened and why, even at that age, I knew it was important.
It seemed the Sept. 11 attack affected everything about that year, from watching how our parents handled the news to even hearing it impact the culture all around us, such as radio stations that played clips of stories from those who had been in the area.
In later years, when I attended high school I remember the teachers going over multiple articles and news feeds on the event all over again. Yet, first impressions are hard to get past.
No matter how many times in a classroom setting I am re-educated over the event and shown clips and personal accounts, I don’t think I could stop my mind from drifting to that particular day when I first heard and saw the attack myself on television as a child.
My mother certainly can’t forget my younger sister asking if our home in the small town of Reeseville, Wisconsin would be the next site of a plane crash. While she reassured her that it would not, I have to wonder if, as a nation, we were all wondering the same thing.
Nichole Harwood is a news and culture beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or on Twitter @Nolidoli1. The views presented in this column are her own.