I sort of glossed over the anniversary of 9/11. I think a lot of people did... I mean, for every year that passes, it gets easier and easier to forget. Especially with something like Katrina happening in the now. But now I wanted to take a moment to remember.

I was a sophomore in college, and I was in Trav and Jon's common room getting ready for class. I all out lived in the frat house at that point... went to sleep there, woke up there, got ready in the mornings there, showered there, came back there from my classes, ate my meals there... it was my home. We had a routine in that room, and were used to each other. It was great times.

For some reason the TV was on that morning... normally it never was that early in the day. We would sleep as late as possible, then dash off to our first class, so morning TV didn't happen. But that day it was on, and as I came out of Trav's personal room I saw the smoke pouring out of the first tower hit. At that point it was still confusion about what had really happened... was this a mistake? I called to Jon that there had been a plane crash, and he gave some sleepy reply.
Soon all was clarified however, as I stood there, the second plane hit. I remember just being completely shocked. It was a weird feeling, like watching a movie. Something like that just didn't feel real.

I called out to Jon, who was still in his personal room that he had to come see this, that he would never believe what was happening. He didn't until they replayed the second hit. I just sat there, unable to look away. Travis came back at that point, all the classes in progress were being dismissed, the rest (for the day) cancelled. He sat down to watch too... and then we remembered George.

One of Travis' fraternity brothers and friends, George, had a brother who worked in the city. Who we thought (but hoped not) might actually work in one of the towers.

Then the towers starting collapsing.

We went down the hall to George's room, and one look at his face was enough. He was frantic, trying to reach his parents, his siblings, anyone who could tell him anything about James. We tried to calm him down, and eventually we had to turn off his TV for him. He didn't want to watch, but he couldn't stop.

The rest of the day was a blur. No one could talk about anything else, think about anything else. Lehigh gets students from all over, but a majority from PA, NJ, and NY. A good number of those students have parents, siblings, or friends that work in NY. Numerous students lost people that day, or knew people that lost people. Too many (a good handfull) lost both parents.

Another large contingent of Lehigh students are International... and while our big draw is Asia, we also have a large number of Middle Eastern students. They were afraid to leave their rooms, afraid of how people would react... they were just as innocent as the rest of us, but no one was thinking clearly at that point.

As days went by you found that life continued, and that you just had to go on doing your thing, because the world does not stop turning for grief. Eventually the dynamic of school life returned to a semi-normal state. But for many students, many people across the country, their lives were forever altered. About a week later, George had to face one of the hardest realities of his life: James Andrew Gadiel was one of the thousands of people killed on 9/11, not making it out of the towers.

So, I wanted to write this post... while now we have new victims to think about (those homeless and abandoned by Katrina, those lost in Iraq, etc), the 9/11 victims are not forgotten 4 years later. They will not be forgotten 20 years later.

Tribute in Lights
From the 9/11 website.

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