How 9/11 is Different from Covid-19
It seems like every American has a story about 9/11. The memory of that morning is seared in the collective consciousness of an entire nation. It’s not because of national pride. That day was the embodiment of trauma, a horror that unfolded in real time on the national news, a tragedy that struck straight to the heart with its brutal reminder of mortality’s callous indifference.
There are few moments in recent history that even come close to this level of emotional shock. The JFK assassination. The Challenger disaster. But this moment somehow felt worse than anything that had come before. A country was held captive, watching helplessly as thousands of people were murdered right before our eyes.
I remember that morning so vividly. The details stand out to me like the memory itself is a towering monolith in my mind. I was awakened by a phonecall from my grandmother. She sounded frantic, her throat thick with tears.
“You better turn on the TV, Jay. Turn it on right now. Your mamaw has told you this day was coming, and you better listen. God’s coming back to claim this world, we are living in the end times. Get right with the Lord,” she told me.
Bleary eyed and still shaking the shroud of sleep, I stumbled into my living room and turned on the news. One of the planes had hit, and smoke billowed from the tower. Shortly after the second plane struck. I held my hand over my mouth to suppress the gasps as victims leaped from windows to escape the flames. All of these details have been recounted to the point of cultural cliche.
But the point I want to drive home about this event is this: as I watched those buildings collapse, and I felt that crushing agony so viscerally pressing down on my very heart, so helpless, so devoid of hope, the tears streaming my cheeks…I knew in that moment I would have done anything in my power to save those people.
I think the entire country, all eyes glued in this eerie connection of solidarity through the slipstream of countless television screens spanning the continent, was united in that emotion. Almost anyone would have done the same, would have gladly sacrificed their own life if necessary, to stop this senseless loss…