Seven years ago this morning, I was an 18-year-old college freshman, about 3 weeks into my first semester. I was 400 miles away from my family for the first time in my life and I was living in a dorm room with a girl I barely knew who had covered her half of the room in Grateful Dead posters and framed pictures of Jim Morrison. The biggest worry in my head as I got ready to go to World History class that Tuesday morning was if I should fly back home on Friday, as planned, to attend a family friend’s wedding or if I should stay at school and go to the new member retreat for the sorority I had just joined. I had been really looking forward to seeing my family, but I also wanted to get to know the girls who would be my closest friends for the next four years.
When I came back into the room from taking a shower, my roommate said her boyfriend (who was a bit of a stoner) had just called and told her that terrorists had flown a plane into a building in New York. I was a little confused, but didn’t think too much of it. I proceeded to get dressed in a dark pink and light pink striped polo, khaki capris, and flip flops. Soon after, one of my best friends from High School called from her dorm room at Brown University in Providence, RI. She said “Are you watching the news?” “No.” “The World Trade Center was just destroyed, you need to turn on the news.” “Ok.” It was our shortest conversation in all of history.
My roommate and I finally turned on the TV and watched the events as they unfolded in New York. We were awe-stricken along with the rest of the world. Eventually, I walked down the hall of the dorm and saw other girls gathered in rooms watching the TV as well. I tend to glue myself to the news when something major is going on, so I debated skipping my 9:30 class. I decided to go to World History and thought that maybe the professor would let us watch the news or would at least talk about what was happening, since history was being made today, after all. I thought about the tragic Columbine shooting several years before. I was in high school at the time and several teachers used class time to talk about what had happened and to listen to all of our thoughts and concerns. That had helped me greatly then. Instead, the history professor continued his lecture on Napoleon and we all frantically took notes. Walking back to my dorm room after that class, I felt more homesick than I had in the three weeks I had been in college. I talked to my parents multiple times throughout the day and jumped on the chance to go to a Mass being held that evening. That day made me incredibly thankful that I had chosen to go to a Jesuit university; Mass has always been a place of comfort, familiarity, consistency, and sacredness for me.
When I was in middle school, a history teacher told my class to go home and ask our parents where they were when they found out JFK was killed. I knew on September 11, 2001, that this day would be the national tragedy that my generation would forever remember where we were and what we were doing.
I know that as one girl in one dorm room in St. Louis, Missouri, this event didn’t touch my life in the tragic and unfathomable way it touched others’, but this is my story. What’s yours?