Where were you when it happened?
It is strange how we equate periods of time with such things as music or things that we were doing during that time. The most common analogy would be hearing a song of the radio and remembering being a child and specific details about something you may have been doing when it came on the radio. For me, an example would be hearing the song “Freeze Frame” on the radio. Each time I hear it, it reminds me of being 11 years old and playing basketball in our driveway. I think it is all part of some complex interlinking system that happens to help us remember things better.
A couple of weeks ago a friend stopped by. Early in our conversation, he asked me where I was that day when “It” happened. It took me a few seconds to catch on to why he was asking me. It was the anniversary of September 11, 2001, the day of the World Trade Center Attacks in New York City.
I began to tell my friend the story of where I was, and what I was doing when the attacks happened. I was working as a Paramedic, and had just gone off duty, but not yet left our station. All of us at station had sort of gathered in the lounge to watch the news of the first plane crash on television. Though nobody really knew it was a terrorist attack at that time, the event was breaking on all of the major news channels. I left to go home and be with my 10 year old daughter and work on my Paramedic to RN course homework, while my wife was just leaving for work as an EMT.
Shortly after arriving at home and tuning the TV to the news, the report of the second crash came across. It was at that moment things in the USA started to make huge changes. Panic set in many Americans, as they realized we were under attack. I will never forget the reactions of people that day. Even though hundreds of miles away, businesses were closing, people were lining up at filling stations to fill up with gasoline even though many pump owners had hiked their prices up to extremely high rates in their own reaction, and it was as though the attack had happened in the back yard of every home in America. I wanted my daughter to see these reactions, so I took her out for a drive around the small town we lived in. I pointed out such things to her, and told her to always remember them.
My friend and I talked a bit more about the attacks, and he told me his story, and where he was when they happened. It was then that it struck me as curious why we associate events such as these with details about what we were doing and where we were. Rather than to just simply remember the tragedy that occurred, perhaps it is our minds way of storing the moment by playing a complex game of word association. Or perhaps, it is just simply easier for us to deal with the magnitude of what happened by associating it with how it changed our lives, starting at that very moment.
Think about September 11, 2001. If you are like the rest of us, one of the first things you think about will be where you were, and what you were doing. We all have a story to tell about it, and that only reinforces proof of the way that day began changes in life for us all. What is your story?