September 10, 2010

The Reassurer in Chief


September 11th was a big day for me. That day, second period, was the first major exam of my high school career. I spent most of the night prior cramming as much psychology in to my head as would fit. As one of two sophomores in a predominantly junior/senior class so I had plenty to prove. The class would be memorable, however, for all the wrong reasons.

After rereading my notes in the hallway I walked in to the classroom, only to be blindsided. "The World Trade Center has been blown up and the Capitol Mall is on fire" a student proclaimed. "Yeah right," I said, followed by a snarky remark.

It wasn't until I noticed the small classroom television in the corner showing images of death and destruction, and the students huddled around it that I sensed something very bad was happening.

The teacher stormed in to the room and announced that no television coverage was to be shown until a broader consensus was reached on what was exactly occurring. There could be students with family members involved and rumor mongering was the last thing needed. This backfired, as in a day without internet or phones kids filled the information vacuum with hearsay and straight up fabrications on what they thought was going on.

The tests were distributed and normalcy was feigned.

Back in the day I had major issues with anxiety and panic attacks. Already being stressed over a test, combined with what seemed like the imminent apocalypse was more than the perfect recipe for me freaking out. I asked to be excused from the class- I hadn't done any more than scribble my name on the test- and was sent to the nurse's office and eventually my mom called and I was sent home. Before returning I convinced her we needed to go to Target and purchased bottled water, canned food, and a flashlight.

Safe in the comfort of my bedroom, I did the absolute worst thing possible; I fixated myself on the news coverage of said death and destruction. Most cable channels were either redirected to news channels, and even some had blank screens with a direction to find news coverage.

My major breakdown of the day took place in mid afternoon. President Bush would be coming to the Omaha area and visiting StratCom, an elaborate high level military command center situated several hundred feet underground. It was about 15 miles from where I sat. Rationalizing that if I could see this on television, so could the terrorists, I was completely and utterly convinced that death by bombing (or some other heinous means) was imminent.

The President later returned to Washington D.C., both of us miraculously unscathed.

The first feeling that I got that things might indeed, be alright, came that evening. I, along with most other Americans tuned in to the President's address to the nation. More than anything, he was the Reassurer in Chief. Everything was going to be ok. America would prevail, and emerge stronger than before.

That was all I needed to know.

Dayton H.

Never Forget. Where were You on 9.11.2001 and what were you doing? What were you thinking? How has 9.11.2001 impacted your life?

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