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9/11/01: Remembering a tragedy 12 years later

we remember

Hawaii News Now’s cover photo in commemoration of those whose lives were taken on 9/11 in 2001.

Hijackers crashed Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. New York time. That’s 2:46 a.m. Hawaii time. I would not even be aware of what was happening until about five hours later.

I remember sitting in the car while my mom drove my brother and I to school the day the planes hit the Twin Towers. I remember hearing President George W. Bush’s voice on the radio and trying to ask my mom what was going on, but she didn’t answer.

I remember that she called my dad, who no doubt was watching what had happened hours earlier in New York, and the aftermath that ensued.

I remember that not many people stayed out to play on the playground before school started that morning. A group of us were huddled in a classroom, talking about what had happened.

Whispers of “We were bombed!” filled the halls.

I’m not sure you can quite wrap your head around the images you saw through the media as an elementary school student. I was only 10 years old. I remember wondering if we would be safe at school that day, and I remember feeling truly unsafe when I heard the speculation that terrorists planned this attack — they planned it down to the date they would do it — a date with significance, a date that represented the numbers we all learned to call during an emergency.

How could anyone do something like this?

As a budding journalist, the day would continue to bring great significance to my studies — especially in ethics with the photo of “The Falling Man,” a photo that depicts the last moments of a man who jumped from the tower, most likely because he was trapped on one of the upper floors or to escape the smoke. At least 200 people fell or jumped to their deaths that day.

I can’t imagine looking at this picture, wondering if it was one of my loved ones.

The Falling Man, a photograph by Richard Drew for the Associated Press.

It was a struggle for me to decide if I was going to write a post about the tragedy that is September 11, 2001 — mainly because I don’t want an event to hold so much power over our country. But it’s something that needs to be remembered. It’s something that brought the country together — something that made my family show support in little ways like placing an American flag decal on the back of our CRV.

My co-worker Ian Scheuring wrote a very powerful blog post on the importance of remembering this national tragedy, and it convinced me to break my silence on the matter.

Have you ever read the timeline of events that happened on September 11, 2001? It’s startling to have it all laid out right in front of you. Read itΒ hereΒ in the interactive timeline on the 9/11 Memorial website.

What really gets me is the section from 9:57 a.m. where it says that “Thirteen of Flight 93’s 40 passengers and crew managed to alert loved ones and authorities to the plane’s hijacking.” The power of people willing to fight back is inspiring. But I also cringe at the thought of how many emotional messages were the final words family members and friends would ever hear.

I remember coming home to find my dad watching the news. For the first time I saw on the screen the footage of the towers going down. I asked him if the people were going to be alright. It must have been hard to answer that question as a father of a young child.

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