I have always felt so moved by my mother’s moments she remembers. It’s the part of me that is sentimental, and another part history buff. I love knowing: Where she was when…
Many times this is not a bad thing. She remembers where she was when her water broke with my sister (in church, where she left, but her car was parked in, so she waited until the end of a really long service), and the time she got the call about her wallet being found (untouched) after she left it in a grocery cart. She also remembers a defining moment in America’s life.
When Kennedy was shot, she was in math class at Abington High School with Mr. Swedberg.
We had changed the order of classes because we were about to have a football rally in the gym because we were going to play Cheltenham High School in out annual game. So I wasn’t in the regular class I would have been in- but they flipped the schedule. Dr. Stull came over the loud speaker and announced that President Kennedy had been shot in the street in Dallas. I didn’t understand. All I could see was some western-like shootout. We all went to the auditorium, filing in- huge classes back then, like 63.
I can’t remember who said it, but I heard President Kennedy had died. And the band was already there to play for the rally and they started playing the National Anthem. The flag was being lowered and everyone was crying. Kids. Teachers. We all just couldn’t believe it.
Hearing her recount this, my heart beats harder and faster in my chest. The Shot Heard Around the World.
So… where was I on 9/11? My God, I swear I can feel it in my bones. I still feel the fear of the unknown.
I was in Mrs. Hamilton’s psych class. I was in 11th grade. “Roll the TV in!” someone shouted. Kids piled in our class and doors closed. We’re 25 miles outside of Philadelphia. Were we next? We watched a replay, at the same time another plane struck. I started to cry. Almost everyone did.
I picked up my phone and slammed my finger into the first key, pressing hard. I felt hot and sick. He finally answered, and I screamed “GET HOME!” Pat was already planning on coming home for the weekend, but in the wake of what was playing through the TVs on his college campus at Del Val, he got into his black Pontiac with a Misfits rear-windshield full sticker and started to drive.
My Mom was miles away at a volunteer job she takes on (still) and was unable to leave- closer to Philadelphia than I was, and was trying to figure out what was really happening when I got a hold of her. “Celeste is coming to get me,” I remember telling her. We were all crammed into the cafeteria. Huddled together, slowly we all lost service on our cell phones. Everyone was trying to call out at the same time.
My boyfriend’s mom was parked out by the flag. I got into her car and she lit a cigarette for both of us. We just wanted Pat (my significant other) to get home. To do so, he needed to pass the airbase, which was on serious lock down. His usual 45 minute drive was replaced with hours. We waited. Watching coverage of what was sure to change the country forever.
I know that this event means my kids won’t understand what it’s like to never see a security camera. They will need clear backpacks in high school. Generations coming up won’t understand airport romance scenes where they run towards each other… because now everyone needs a ticket, and there’s no running, and nothing is carefree.
Everything we do is calculated and measured. 9/11 made sure of that. What we say and do and think… that can all be monitored in some way.
I miss the innocence that was. I guess I always will.
Where were you when 9/11 happened?