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article imageOp-Ed: September 11, 2001 — a personal turning point

By Justin Crann     Sep 11, 2011 in World
On September 11, 2001, when the United States was suffering the worst attack on its own soil since Pearl Harbor, I was sitting in a classroom in Toronto.
It was a day that seemed much like any other. I was sitting in the same seat, at the same table, in the same classroom that I had for the past week. The routine was broken when my school's science teacher entered the classroom and called our teacher into the hall. Ten minutes later, our teacher returned to usher us into the neighboring classroom, which happened to be one of only two classrooms in the school that had cable.
The last time students had been allowed to watch the TV during ordinary class hours was during the World Cup of Soccer. This time, we settled in just in time to catch a repeated airing of Flight 175 crashing into the second of the World Trade Center towers.
At 13 years old, it was difficult for me to fully comprehend the significance of what was happening. That the United States was being attacked was obvious. That thousands of people had died was also clear. But the full impact of the disaster I was seeing was unknown to me.
9/11 Stories
9/11 Stories
Over the next few days, I was inundated with news stories about the disaster, both at home and in school. Airspace closures, stranded passengers, identities and allegiances of the hijackers, rescues of people buried under the rubble of the towers, deaths, suicides, and relief efforts seemed like the only thing that mattered.
All of that information was packaged with clips of the disaster itself — the towers burning and collapsing, the wreck of a third jet in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon on fire — and aired, again and again, in what seemed like a 24-hour-a-day loop.
What began as something impossible to comprehend eventually evolved into something increasingly surreal and horrifying. The fear of further attacks, including attacks on Toronto, was constant, perpetuated by media organizations, family, and friends alike; in the days following the crisis, the repetition of disaster footage shot from a hundred different angles by a thousand different people only served to amplify its nightmarish quality.
Paranoia had become the norm. But soon, even that began to change.
A week after the disaster, I remember very clearly that I was sitting in the living room reading when my mother turned on the news. Coverage of the 9/11 crisis had eased off a bit, but the networks were still showing those iconic images of the towers smoking and collapsing, and there were still reports about people stocking their cellars with canned goods and bottled water in the event of an attack on Toronto.
I can also remember turning to my mother, and asking her to turn off the news. When she asked why, I told her I had seen enough. The footage no longer bothered me — it didn't scare me, it didn't sadden me, it didn't even make me pause to reflect.
The 24 hour news cycle had desensitized me to the disaster, and at my core, I knew that was wrong.
The September 11 attacks shaped the lives of everybody, in some way or another. For me, 9/11 and the week that followed were defining moments — the moments during which I decided I wanted to pursue a life in media.
This article is part of Digital Journal's project to remember September 11. If you have a story to tell, join us on Facebook and Twitter, and post your memories to Digital Journal. Full details on how to participate can be found here. You can also read other submissions on our September 11 Anniversary page.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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