I was a senior at Stetson University when it happened. I got up that morning, showered and dressed, and headed out the door of my little room on the second floor of the Wesley House a little after 10:00, late as usual for my work-study job tutoring at the music library. One of my housemates (Becky, for any Stetsonites who may be reading this) was sitting on the couch in the upstairs living area, her face looking ashen and her eyes focused on the T.V. I started to rush past, because I was late, and of course it's rude to linger too long between a person and the T.V. screen they are watching, and she stopped me, saying, "Joie, you won't believe this. Two planes just crashed into the World Trade Center." I'm thinking, "The World what what?" She told me that one of the buildings had actually collapsed because of the damage. I remember saying something like, "Oh that's awful," without really thinking much about it. I was late for work, after all.
As I walked along Woodand Blvd toward the School of Music, I had time to ponder the news a little more carefully. I didn't get very many details from that conversation with Becky, and so I was thinking that the "two planes" were like, you know, little planes. I was actually thinking they were like fighter planes--like Top Gun or something--like, you know there had been some wierd navigational error in some sort of military exercise. But as I walked along it suddenly occured to me that this made no sense at all. Two planes crashed into two buildings?! That couldn't be an accident! I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, clutching my chest. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe the level of evil and despair that a person would have to have to do something like that--to deliberately take their life and countless others in one blow. And worse still, it was not only one person who had done this--there were at least two planes, so there had to be at least two people, if not more. How could such a thing happen? Those were my thoughts as I made my way to work that morning, no longer caring at all that I was late.
The rest of my day was much the same as many of yours: checking news websites and finding them crashed due to ridiculous amounts of traffic, normal activities--in my case, classes--suspended due to the tragedy, people gluing themselves to the TV, etc. The footage was on almost constantly on the Wesley House downstairs TV. Since the house I lived in was a campus ministry, our downstairs living room (the residents had a private one upstairs, which was where I first heard the news from Becky that morning) became a place for people to gather, watch the footage, discuss, and commiserate. I coudn't handle too much of it, though, so I avoided that area somewhat. And there was a memorial service held in Stetson's beautiful Elizabeth Hall chapel, but I think it might have been the following day.
Anyway...most of those things, as I said, are like what many of you remember, and my memories of them have become rather fuzzy. But that moment of realization under the shade of the trees outside Allen Hall, on my way to work that morning, stands out in my mind. It was, for me, a moment of innocence lost.