Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering September 11, 2001

On the night of September 11, 2001, I received a phone call from my boyfriend stationed at a U.S. Army post in the northeast section of Korea. "The Pentagon's been hit by an airplane and is on fire. Another plane just struck one of the World Trade Towers in New York. My base is going on lock-down," he said. I immediately turned on Armed Forced Network, the only English television channel I received in Korea. CBS was broadcasting live footage of panic on the streets of Manhattan. The subways were closed, roads were blocked, and people were running down the street.

I called my parents back in the states. They had no idea about the plane crashes. My mom phoned my brother who was asleep in his Brooklyn apartment. He didn't know about the chaos occurring one borough away either. Dan Rather assured viewers although it looked like pandemonium, things were actually not that bad. With his words in mind, I switched the TV off and went to bed. When I awoke the next morning to teach my 6 am English class, the mood had changed. A second plane had hit the other World Trade Tower.  People were jumping from the buildings to their death.  Firemen and police were crushed by falling debris. Smoke and soot filled the air.

When class began, one of my adult students informed me that the United States basically deserved these attacks since we caused civilian deaths in Cuba and other places across the globe. "That's not what I need to hear right now," I told him. My manager said she was sorry this happened to my country. I think she was being earnest considering she's the same person who told me she wanted Japan to fall into the ocean.

The USO canceled my scheduled trip to Panmunjeom right after the terrorist attacks. Other than that and the continual 9/11 footage played on AFN, life went on as normal in Korea. What's eery to me is about a week before 9/11 I glanced at a headline in an Armed Forces newspaper about probable attacks to overseas American targets. Who would have thought terrorists would hit the states and kill thousands of civilians? Photo from L.A. Times