Article by Jahnavi Rao, Staff Reporter
Photo by Elizabeth Billman, Co-Web Editor
I’ve always asked where people were when they first heard about 9/11. My dad was on his way to work, turned on the radio, and made a u-turn. My friend’s mother was supposed to be in the World Trade Center that day, but was kept home by her sick daughter. My aunt was in the hospital waiting for my cousin to be born, and watched the television in horror, viewing the world her son would be entering.
It doesn’t matter who I ask; they all know where they were when they heard about 9/11.
I was in 7th grade when 456 children were held hostage and 26 died at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I don’t know where I was, but I wrote a song the next day about giving yellow flowers to every person who died.
I don’t think I realized how many more yellow flowers would be needed over the next five years.
We hear about shootings on a daily basis. There’s an online counter for how many gun massacres there are a day. At least 358 people died in a bombing in Somalia last week.
I don’t remember where I was when I heard about any of these things.
I recently saw the Broadway musical “Come From Away,” which details the stories of 7000 people whose flights were diverted to Newfoundland, Canada after American airspace was closed in the aftermath of 9/11.
An Egyptian flier was questioned endlessly, stripped and searched for existing. A mother called home, unable to reach her firefighter son. They sang the haunting words, “something’s gone. Something’s changed.” We now live in a world where something has changed, but we weren’t around when this change occurred. We don’t know what life has changed from.
“Something’s lost. Something’s missing.”
I’ve lived a life where anyone with their heads covered is looked at with suspicion. Where deaths are counted on a formulated scale, and news programs never have to worry about filling the airwaves; there’ll always be something.
The cast sang “I need something to do, because I can’t watch the news.” 9/11 dominated the airwaves for weeks, months, the entire year. Nowadays, networks pick atrocities to report on based on marketability and their relevance to the audience.
Deaths and murders are now as commonplace as used cars on the lot.
I was one year and change when 9/11 happened, and I am grateful I wasn’t able to comprehend it. Realizing in a moment that the world would be forever changed is not something I’d wish upon anyone. But I do imagine what it would be like remembering where I was when I heard about an atrocity: a world where an atrocity seemed singular enough to be remembered.
A world where you know something is meaningful enough to change how the world operates.
A world where you’re shocked by something like 9/11.
And a world where you realize that “something’s gone.”
Jahnavi Rao can be reached at email@example.com.