It was my junior year fall semester at Duke. I had never heard of the World Trade Towers before that day and did not expect the gravity of what was to happen that Tuesday morning. As any weekday, I woke up from my central campus apartment and made my way to the unfamiliar Engineering building on Science Drive. Sitting in the computer lab, some of the students in the back started talking in a very panicked tone. “A plane crashed into the World Trade Tower!” We all scrambled to cnn.com to figure out what had happened. Most of us did not realize the magnitude of the event. Maybe just another headline. Personally, maybe I was desensitized by the tragic events of the collapse of Soon-Poong Department Store and Sung-Soo Bridge. I just thought it was just another unfortunate accident. Then in the afternoon, the seriousness of the event gradually sank in. My cell lab professor who is usually jolly and funny, dismissed our class in a solemn tone. I spent the rest of the day glued to the TV familiarizing myself to the event, the towers, and the plethora of sentiments that were being felt around the world that day. Wanting to understand, and maybe to sensitize myself again.
It’s interesting to hear what different people were doing during the morning of Sept 11, 2001. Their reactions, their feelings, their stories. NYTimes exhibits a few stories in “Views of a Day” that remind us that so often we lose sight of the significance of the mundane. So often we subconsciously think ourselves invincible, or at least far from death, that the little repeated activities in our lives lose weightiness. The policemen that Nathan Schneider met that day must have realized this and saw something extraordinary in the ordinary. Beauty in the game play of teenagers. The glimpse of the end of life reminded them of the preciousness of life and the moments we so often forget to cherish. It is good to remember, even eight years after. It is good for the soul.