Tuesday, September 10, 2013

12 years

I cannot wrap my head around the fact that tomorrow is September 11th. It has been 12 years since our lives changed. How has it been 12 years? Wasn't this just a few years ago?

I will never forget that day. I was in my Foundations of Inquiry class in the basement of Milner Library at ISU when the first plane hit. I found out about it in my algebra class immediately following. We had a test that day. By the time I made it to my political science class the second plane hit.

I don't know why I continued going to class, I think it was just habit at that point and we really didn't know what was going on. In my political science class, our professor educated gave us an entire lesson on Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. It was terrifying and something I just couldn't wrap my mind around.

When I returned to my dorm, my roommate Jamie and I sat glued in front of CNN. Then we watched in sheer terror as the towers fell. We watched thousands of people die in an instant and there was nothing anybody could do. I felt helpless. I felt hopeless. I felt numb.

Then the rumors started that it wasn't just going to be New York and D.C., that the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania was meant for Chicago. Chicago...my hometown. The city where my sister was currently working. I remember calling her in tears. I wanted to know that she was okay.

Being 18 and trying to comprehend everything that was going on was just too much.

A few days later I went to the prayer vigil on campus. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of us on the quad with candles. It was such an amazing sight.

Fast forward 12 years and it's still fresh.

Tonight as a part of honoring the people of 9/11 we flagged the lawn in front of our building. We are actually doing an entire week of service projects, but tonight was the main event that we had. We chose to honor photojournalist Bill Biggart. I didn't choose him randomly, I was pretty deliberate in my decision. I do not even think I offered any other options.

So why Bill? Well, this summer my sister (yes, the same sister I called in tears on 9/11) and I went to D.C. and visited the Newseum. Inside they have an exhibit on 9/11 with a piece of one of the towers and coverage from that day. There are interviews with people moments after it happened that play on loop and then there is a glass case with a camera, press passes and film canisters. That glass case is everything they found from Bill Biggart four days after 9/11.

Bill was a photojournalist and was simply walking his dog with his wife when the first plane hit. Being the journalist that he was he ran home for his press passes and cameras. He was going to capture the story.

He was there when the first tower fell. He came out from the dust cloud, called his wife and said, "I'm safe.
I'm with the firemen." He told her he'd be home in 20 minutes. 20 minutes later the second tower fell.

What Bill did that day is something that our faculty strive to teach our students. He had a passion and commitment to his craft that cannot be taught in the classroom, rather it can only be experienced.  Teaching our students about Bill and his contribution will hopefully give them some perspective on their field.

On this 9/11 I urge you to learn about someone that fell in either New York, Pennsylvania or D.C. If you see a first responder tomorrow, smile, say thank you. Above all, remember, honor and live. Live for those who are no longer with us. Live for those that are overseas fighting to give us each day that we have.

Just live.

1 comment:

chelsiejosloan.com said...

It is crazy to hear all the stories of where people were on that day.

I was in 5th grade in Sarasota and we were put on lock down, because the President was at a nearby elementary school and everyone was worried Sarasota would be under attack.

Remember all the media footage of a man walking up to the President and whispering in his ear? Just crazy how vivid I remember it.

Thank you for honoring a journalist today!

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