Where Were You When...?

Monday, October 8, 2001


Every once in awhile, mostly unexpectedly in casual conversation, I am asked the question, "Where were you when...?"

Certain pivot points in history are searingly momentous, and my memories of them are wildly vivid, sometimes painfully so, decades later. As we exchange experiences, I am instantly thrown back to that time and place, reliving those moments.

Once again, I feel the stresses of that day. As they arise in the telling, the emotions let me know that I haven't quite given up the ghosts of that day. The years may separate me from the events, but vestiges of unhealed emotional wounds remain.

Talking it out, I am given an opportunity to wrangle, confront and deal with these emotions, still alive, however post-traumatic. The passage of time has its benefits. During the interim, I've learned more about the ways of the world and the human condition. The subsequent investigations and analyses have helped me to make sense of the senseless.

Having grown some into wisdom and maturity, I am better able to place once incomprehensible, shocking events into a historical, human, and spiritual perspective and context. As I share, unresolved, knotted emotions unravel, releasing me from their bondage.

And in the sharing comes a healing.

These are the answers that spring into mind whenever I am asked, "Where were you when...":

  • ...JFK was killed, November 22, 1963: I was with my classmates, sitting at a wooden desk in a 7th grade classroom at Pahoa High & Elementary School, Pahoa, Hawai`i, on the morning that my tearful teacher, Mrs. Francis Ho, announced that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

  • ...Kent State students were killed, May 4, 1970: I was alone at my desk in my freshman dorm room, Foster Quadrangle, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, the afternoon I heard over the radio that students had been shot dead at Kent State University in Ohio.

  • ...Challenger crashed, January 28, 1986 : I was alone in the bedroom, getting ready for work in the morning, as I watched the space shuttle Challenger -- with fellow islander Astronaut Ellison Onizuka onboard -- go down on live television.

As with Kennedy's assasination, the Kent State shootings, and Challenger's failed flight, the events of September 11, 2001 now join this list of frozen memories:

  • ...America was terrorized, September 11, 2001: I was standing in my family room with my husband in front of the television, as we watched in horrified silence as terrorists attacked America by plunging commercial airlines into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Each of us will forever remember exactly where we were on that day. This pivotal day in history and its image are seared into our memories, individually and collectively.

In the days ahead and, God willing, in the years to come, we'll be asking each other this question. Synchronistically, as I write this, Oprah Winfrey is asking Tiger Woods, "Where were you when the tragedy (of September 11, 2001) occurred?" (He was playing championship golf in St. Louis)

I am just an ordinary person without a claim to fame or notoriety. No will ever interview me and ask the question of me. Most of our answers will never be heard, although we were each affected.

It's up to us ordinaries. Let us ask each other. Let us share. Let us talk it out. If Candace Pert, Ph.D. is right, and I believe she is, our answers are equally valuable as any celebrity's to our individual and collective healing.

In that spirit, I, an ordinary person, offer you my answer for your perusal. With unpolished words, what follows is a faithful recording in words of my experience and reactions of September 11, 2001. Unshaped by others' and the media coverage that followed, my raw emotions, unsorted and from the gut, were put into words, however jumbled and inadequate.

Share your experience and your feelings with your kith and kin. We will remember, and in remembering, we will heal.

Journal entry for September 11, 2001

After journalizing the above entry, I turned on the television to learn that a second case of Anthrax infection has surfaced.

And a mentally-imbalanced man, believing they were going to crash into the Sears Tower, got into the cockpit. He was taken down by passengers.

Buckle your seatbelts.It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Bless you. Be strong. Stay safe.

"Life is a Gift."

Author Unknown

past the present future

who | what | archives | comments

This web journal was created on a September Morn,September 29, 2001.
September Morn 2001