Save for a group of students clustered around a TV cart in the breezeway, the campus was a ghost town as I walked home from my 8am biology class. I remember thinking it was strange that people were outside watching Independence Day. It wasn’t until I got back to my dorm that I realized something was terribly wrong. My roommate was crying, her and a bunch of the girls from my hall glued to the television. The girl across the hall was frantically making phone calls, trying to get in touch with her mother, who was a flight attendant. Sadly, Will Smith did not come blazing out of the fiery skyscrapers to save the day. It was September 11, 2001, a day that would leave more than the buildings in piles of rubble.
Generations before me recount their memories of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, detailed accounts of where and what they were doing vivid in their minds. For my generation, the devastation of 9/11 will be seared in our memories forever, marked by the horrific images broadcast for months thereafter. The planes shattering as they crashed into the Towers, the buildings literally crumbling down onto themselves; thick, gray, smoke and fire billowing out of the Towers, flooding the vibrant blue sky, the iconic New York City Skyline, the streets down below. We watched helplessly as people flung themselves out of skyscraper windows hundreds of miles up, saddened to our very cores that this was preferable to the horrors that lied within. These images, of which there are hours on end of footage, make up what has been cited as the most documented tragedy in our country’s history.
This tremendous loss of life, of security, has impacted us in innumerable ways. Through the media coverage, our nation shared in the shock and sorrow of that fateful morning, the television broadcasts figuratively erasing the walls and miles that separated us. Even now, we can see it all over again, countless hours of one of our nation’s greatest tragedies mere keystrokes away. It has been 11 years since that fateful Tuesday, an anniversary remembered in the convergent media.
This past Tuesday I stared at a row of television screens at my gym, each a different news station offering their memories, tributes and takes on the 9/11 tragedy. There were past and present day interviews with survivors, responders, journalists, and government. There were tie-ins to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, terrorism, and homeland security. There were videos, still images, sound recordings, links to websites and blogs, with still more images and videos. September 11, 2001 is a day that our nation will never forget; it will live on well past our individual memories, forever preserved in the many convergent channels of the mass media.