On milestone anniversaries it’s almost impossible for me not to think about what I was doing or where I was at that same point just X years earlier. I wrote the following on September 11, 2002. The GM I refer to was a good friend and leader of the Muslim Student Association at UCLA at the time.
I cried this morning as I drove to work just as I did one year ago as I drove home in the morning from campus after working on a paper all night long. Except this time, I think I finally let myself grieve. I did it as I passed the cemetery where Grandma and Grandpa are buried. I felt so much pain and anger. I didn’t grieve only for those who lost their lives on September 11.
I grieved like GM did when he wrote this article last year in response to another in the Daily Bruin (October 10, 2001):
I end this submission with a response to Jones’s statement that I should join Jones in “howling for blood” in order prove my “Americanness.”
I condemn these attacks on innocent lives as I condemn all innocent lives being taken. I grieve for the daughters whose father was working on the 101st floor of the fallen building; my heart aches when I think how those passengers aboard those ill-fated flights must have felt before the horrendous impact; and my eyes lower in grief whenever I see a view of the New York skyline.
Yet this pain is not new for me or for many others around the world who have seen the same horror of innocent life being stolen away countless times around the world, whether it be in Sudan, East Timor, Chiapas, Bosnia, Nicaragua, Chechnya, the Phillippines, or in my homeland Iraq.
Excuse me, Jones, if I don’t “howl for blood” along with you, for I have already seen more innocent bloodshed than my eyes can bear to stand.
Last year, I bought the September issue of Latina magazine. I think I was really feeling down that day and just picked it up at the drug store.
Months later as I flipped through it, I found the calendar it had for the month of September, 2001. In the box for Tuesday the 11th was the following: a dove with an olive branch, and the words “International Day of Peace: Make peace with your suegra (mother in law)” [or something like that].
Peace to all those who lost loved ones, peace to those in war ravaged countries, and peace to those who continue to suffer the brute force of US military intervention.
Paz. I’m off to listen to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” because it’s as fitting now as it was 30 years ago.
I remember staying with my friend Jonathan late in to the night. I was writing the final paper for my summer school class, research methods in sociology. Jonathan was writing a funding proposal so he could have a job. He didn’t stay until about 7 am like I did. I left at that point because parking in the school lot was no longer free. When I left the underground parking structure I could hear the radio without static. I was waiting at Sunset Blvd to head out to the freeway while the news came in. I was very confused, but by the time I was on the 405 south, I knew something was wrong. The freeway was eerily empty and I momentarily freaked. What if New York wasn’t the only city to be attacked? What if something happened in LA or elsewhere? When I got home, I turned on the TV. My roommates were just waking up and I told them what happened. We watched in horror as the planes crashed in to the two towers of the World Trade Center and then they collapsed.
I returned to work and class later. The bus was empty, so was campus. I chatted with my friend, Chris, while at work and he thought it would be safer if I stayed home. I told him I didn’t have a choice. In the afternoon, I went to class. My professor didn’t mention the attacks, but he said it was okay if we just turned in our papers and left. I don’t remember what I did.