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Comitatus

September 12, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Our eyes were suddenly fixed on the screen. And then there was silence.

September 11th wasn’t just a tragedy for New York, or for America. The hurt, the fear, the loss–they were blind to all borders, and sweeping across them, touched hearts thousands of miles away from ground zero.

And they declared, “We are all Americans.”

***

Eight years later, I’m sitting in my fifth period precalculus class, mindlessly doodling on a blank page in my agenda amidst a storm of conversation and a wrestling match over the TV remote on the other side of the room. Someone emerges victorious, and then there’s some drama playing out on MTV, followed by a teary-eyed talk show guest, a few cheesy commercials for local furniture stores and car dealerships, an interview on Fox News (being a Democrat, I boo), breaking news on CNN, etc. Eventually, we land on The History Channel. It’s a simulation of a plane, flying silently across the smart board. And when the plane banks sharply and throws itself into the face of a skyscraper, all eyes turn to gaze upon that all-too familiar scenario. But for now, that’s all it is–a digital representation of a hypothetical event. There’s no smoke billowing out of the gaping hole; no shattered glass or bent, twisted steel trusses; no roaring engine; no leaping tongues of flame. And no screams.

And then they make it real.

The same video clips that had raced across our eyes in the third-grade pull us in as high school juniors. For a moment, we are lost in the chaos as the North Tower, once seemingly indestructible, begins to fall.

As I watch, I notice that the whole room has gone silent. The true weight of the tragedy has finally settled on our hearts. A tragedy we all have in common. The one thing none of us will ever be able to forget.

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