I remember 9/11 very clearly. By the time I woke up that day, the major events were over.
I'd set my radio alarm clock to wake me up at my usual get out of bed time: 9:30am (I was living in the San Fancisco Bay Area, and I usually headed in to work around 11am). Unlike most mornings, I didn't hear music or a commercial when my alarm clock went off....
I instead heard the morning DJ's talking about a plane heading to San Fran that had crashed. In my barely awake state, I thought "that's a bit of a bummer", but a plane crash happens from time to time. I was about to hit the snooze button for a few more minutes of sleep when one of the the DJ's then said "My God... this is a national trajedy".
I then woke up a bit more... was some celeberity now dead because he was on that flight? I dragged myself out of bed, walked in to my living room, and turned on the TV. I tuned it to CNN, to see what the plane crash might be about.
Instead, I saw something completely unexpected... a shot of the New York skyline, with one of the World Trade towers on fire. I thought "what the f***?". Seconds later, a plane appeared from the right side of the video... I dismissed it as a common thing (a plane flying in the background... I still was barely awake), and then it suddenly slammed in to the other tower and a fireball blasted out the other side.
That moment of video footage woke me up like nothing ever had before (or since)... I was suddenly awake... and terrified. I Instantly understood what it meant... one tower on fire, and a plane hitting the second tower... we were under attack.
I spent the next hour glued to the TV, learning what had happened while I slept. Watching the constantly replaying footage of those planes hitting the Towers, hearing about the plane that hit the Pentegon, seeing footage of the towers collapsing in a blast cloud of toxic dust. Learning about that 4th plane those DJ's had been talking about when I first woke up... that crashed because the passengers stopped the terrorists but couldn't save themselves.
Once I eventually headed in to work that day, nobody got any work done... we all spent the day constantly reading the internet news services, and talking in shocked tones about what had happened.
I've heard people talk about those unique days that everyone in that generation remembers... the day JFK was shot... Dec. 7 1941 (Pearl Harbor)... those rare and defining days in history that all who lived it remember forever. I remember being 12 or 13 years old and seeing the news footage when Reagan was shot... that seemed big as a child. As an adult watching 9/11 unfold, it was far more devistating. It was a horrifying day, that, while I lost nobody in my personal life, still to this day affects me and our national identity.
Like Dec. 7 1941, Tuesday September 11 2001 will be a day that lives in infamy. And it should be a day we never forget.