THE WORLD CHANGED 17 YEARS AGO – Marilyn Armstrong

I had just come back from a couple of weeks in Israel. It was work, not vacation. I was in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, so there was no sense that this was a vacation. I also made the dreadful mistake of drinking local water without worrying about it because, after all, I had lived there a decade without a problem. Times changed. So did my gut. What I did in the past didn’t stop me from getting one of those ugly waterborne diseases.

Which is why I was at home on 9/11. I was in no shape to go anywhere where I couldn’t get to a bathroom in less than a nanosecond.

The phone rang. My son was working at one of the “backbone” services that handled the Internet.

“Turn on the TV,” he said.

“What channel?” I asked.

“Any channel,” he replied.

Any channel? That sounded serious. I turned it on in time to watch the first tower fall and was still standing there with my mouth open, in total shock when the second tower fell.

Tall ship by the towers that were there before 2001

Everything changed after that. We were not invulnerable. Not that we had ever been invulnerable. Pearl Harbor should have reminded us of that, but that was before I was born. And it was on “some other island.” It wasn’t “home.”

Not that I currently live in New York, but I was born and raised there, as was Garry. New York wasn’t “just a place.” It was home and even though we lived in Massachusetts, New York was where we began, where we became ourselves.

Everything changed and we thought, for a while, it was better. But it wasn’t. I wonder if it will ever change back again to the place I remember. I know growing up, the world was very far from perfect, but it was home.

Now, I don’t know what this place is. It doesn’t feel like home anymore.

Categories: #American-history, History

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13 replies

  1. I hesitate to ‘like’ this post – it was unthinkable then and it’s unthinkable now – and every time I think of it anyway, it is with a very heavy heart….


  2. Do young people really not know this happened? We’ve been talking about how ignorant the youth of today are recently but my mind boggles that they could not know about this. Do they never even look at old episodes of TV shows and wonder what happened to those two buildings. Has curiousity been stamped out too?
    Even here, so far away we cannot forget where we were and what we were doing when we heard about it. It was night here of course when the story broke on the late news and David and I ended up sitting up nearly all night because we just couldn’t look away even though we wanted to. It was 24/7 news coverage for the next few days on all channels. I remember that we had Americans staying at the hotel I worked at and we just didn’t know what to say to them.


  3. Ah, SEVENTEEN years ago. Man. I guess the reminder shook me up more than I though. Keep thinking it was only eleven years ago for some reason….


  4. Dear Lord, was it really 17 years ago? Just one more awful memory.


  5. It’s not ‘home’ any more. “They” (whomever they are today) won. I spent today, 17 years ago, driving to a job I hated. Absolutely loathed with all my being. As I was driving, I kept hearing the story on the news (’cause out here in Utah it had already happened…we’re mountain standard time y’all). I thought it was a prank and in very poor taste. Having no cell phone (didn’t even dream of having one then)…I found a rare telephone booth that worked, and called hubby and asked him to turn on CNN. He did and said OH MY GOD and then there was silence. I knew then it was real. I went to work, and the receptionist was weeping. She had grown children in New York. Everyone was so silent. The mood was odd, so sober – and this was a group of 20 somethings..who were always chattering on about the latest fads and such. The boss let us go at noon, nobody could get any work done. I recall driving home and everyone on the road was so polite. It was like the whole nation had been severely shaken, which I suppose it had. And all my own troubles? Melted like ice in a hot sun. No longer relevant. It still gives me the shivers all this time later. What a lovely perspective you shared here. Thank you!


  6. I don’t think any of us will ever forget… or wonder about the changes that day brought to so many lives on a personal level, and so many nations.


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