Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.
The phone rang. It was my sister, telling me to turn to CNN immediately. Something had happened in New York City.
There was smoke coming out of a skyscraper. She asked me to call her back and let her know what had happened; she was managing a clinic and unable to watch. My television stayed on 24/7 for days until broadcasts became redundant. I turned it off to recover.
[Your story: How has September 11 changed you?]Eventually, I saw the video of the firefighters on the ground floor of one tower: what they were seeing, what they were hearing. After that, the video made by the French videographers who had been doing a documentary on an NYC firefighters' station. My grief and anger and numbness were common across the country. I saw President Bush visit with his megaphone; saw the frantic relief work; called a friend in New York who said he wished he hadn't gone down there to see it.
I followed the Pennsylvania crash story. Using Microsoft Paint, I started drawing out my grief; illustration after illustration, for weeks. For those in our small town without American flags, the local newspaper printed one. Every merchant's front windows, block after block, had the real thing, with the post office's at half-staff.
A local woman's brother was in the towers, and she didn't hear from him for four hours. The newspaper's office building soon had a flag affixed that had hung in the capitol, loaned by a resident government retiree. Teenage boys circled blocks downtown Saturday night honking, flashing their brights, and yelling out their windows "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" One online article reported that anti-depressant prescriptions had increased five fold since that morning. I flew into Logan near Halloween in '03, cringing at the proximity to where it began.
The changes in airport security since, the Patriot Act going forth then renewed, the intensity of the congressional and media discussions about Iraq, then Afghanistan; every next decision has become reality for us all.
My personal change has consisted of educating myself on the terrorists' extreme interpretation of their religion, thinking more in terms of everyday conveniences compared to Third World countries, and a deeper gratitude for not living anywhere but here.