The day after
September 11th was weird for me. I mean, not yesterday, but the real one. The one that sunk us, for better or worse, into a couple of endless wars. That painted a presidency. That spawned all sorts of patriotic "let's put a boot in everyone's ass" country music hits. That birthed an entire industry of magnetic car ribbons, ranging in every color imaginable under the sun, with any theme a person could dream of, i.e. "Support Our Transgendered Hypoglycemic Hispano-Americano P.O.W.'S." That finally made fashionably relevant the 5 dollar Old Navy American flag Tee. That set the path for a multi-million dollar industry in "Stop/F*** Bush" bumper stickers, air fresheners, and sundry other paraphernalia. That created an "access uhv evul." That ultimately took the lives of thousands, and altered the lives of millions.
I was quietly nestled away in the MTC. Which would be an acronym for "Missionary Training Center," for those of you who are non-Morms.
That morning, I was sitting in a large group meeting. We had those a few times a week, where we would gather for some indoctrination. Our teacher was about 15 minutes late. Upon arriving, he seemed troubled. In our little bubble, the only thing of which we were aware or concerned, was the massive amount of cereal digesting in our bellies, and how far away lunch seemed.
He approached the pulpit/microphone, and said, "Sorry I'm late. A couple of planes were high-jacked and crashed into the World Trade Centers." Cue collective gasp, jaw drops, wide eyes, and raised eyebrows.
He paused, and took a deep breath. We had all simultaneously scooted to the edge of our seats, absolutely silent, ready for life shattering news. One could have heard an Angel Moroni tie pin fall to the floor.
"I think...well...I'm not going to tell you what I think. Okay. Were going to start by singing hymn number...."
And that was it. He didn't say another word about it. And there we sat, in absolute shock, while he rambled on for an hour about who knows what. Something churchy. Like any of us could spare even a speck of attention, for all of the swirl of emotion/curiosity/shock, roiling in our heads.
Class ended, we ran to our room and got out a contraband radio that my companion for some unknown reason had squirreled away in his suitcase. I guess he thought, as he was packing his bags, "Well, maybe I should bring this radio, in the event that a terrorist attack occurs upon our beloved country, and the MTC doesn't see fit to give us ANY INFORMATION.
As soon as word got around that we had this most forbidden of all devices, everyone was huddled around, listening to what few sketchy details we could pick up. Soon enough, however, we had to be in class. Learning another language, or some such nonsense.
Later on, the MTC president got on the intercom and gave us a few details. Mostly, we had to live vicariously through our parent's letters, news clippings, and pictures. Such a strange way to experience one of the most significant events in our Nation's history.
The worst thing was, I didn't even get to wear patriotic garb when said garb was all the rage. By the time I got home, 2 years later, the Old Navy flag shirt had sunk back into fashion irrelevancy, and Toby Keith was already wayyy overplayed. At least there are still enough cancers in existence that those magnetic ribbons will always be fresh.