Sunday, September 11, 2011

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” Baha'u'llah

Where were you the morning of September 11, 2001? I imagine this question goes down in history alongside “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” and “Where were you when Princess Diana died?”

We all remember vividly what we were doing. It was a Tuesday.  I had just started the second week of my first year of university. I had Sociology at 8:30 am and then I went to English at 10:20.  And after THAT class I had Intro to Business. It was at noon. I walked into that class, found a seat and pulled out my notepad to take notes.  I can still tell you the exact seat I was sitting in. Our professor wheeled in a television set, plugged it in.  I sat there slightly confused. But I started my note taking. My professor didn’t say a word the entire class. Years later I found the notes I started that day…

September 11, 2001
Intro to Business
P. Mombourquette

World trade centre
New York
Tower 1 @ 8:46 am 
Tower 2 @ 9:03 am
Pentagon @ 9:37 am

Then the notes stopped. I must have realized this wasn’t a class video. This was real life. 

It’s funny what sticks out in your mind.

It was sunny. A beautiful day. A particularly warm September. 

I was living on campus at the time (it was my first year living in another province away from home). Many planes were diverted to Halifax. Many of the travellers (hundreds?) were sent to my university until the airspace was opened up again and flights got straightened out.  They didn’t have rooms, so they were mostly in our huge multipurpose room, and hanging around the very small campus (less than 4000 student, with about 240 living on campus) in the cafeteria, etc.  I remember at the time having moments of being incredibly irritated.  They got served before the students living in residence. They ate all the food.  The cafeteria was bare.  I remember one day the only thing left I could eat was Fruit Loops. In hindsight, certainly a petty complaint, I know. At the time we didn’t realize the magnitude of what was happening. At least not right away.

I remember one girl being obsessed with the coverage. She sat, and I think even slept, in the common room that everyone in our building shared. She skipped classes and spent days with the travellers. 

I remember hearing about a small town (10,000) in my home province hosting 6,700 diverted travellers.  People were amazed that this little community would open their homes to strangers. Shortly after I read the book “The Day the World Came to Town.” and I found myself smiling at the shock of the generosity of the people.  

I didn’t know anyone in New York.  I hadn’t even ever been to New York.  But I remember crying alone on my bed and wondering what was happening in the world.  The world became a little smaller and in the weeks following it was incredible to see everyone come together unified in their grief. 

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