Even when people know what I do for a living, that’s the first question I always get asked. No questions about how I almost took off into the recently closed airspace that morning (because there was no FAA tower to tell me it was closed). None about how it happened or “do you think it could happen again?”.
No one asks if I knew the pilots who were viciously slaughtered by a group of al-Qaeda terrorists. They don’t even ask about the so-called “20th hijacker” Zacharias Moussaoui, a student I knew at the flight school where I taught.
Nope. People always ask me the same thing:
“Where were you?”
Asked of my grandparents the question would be about Pearl Harbor. My parents – JFK. For me however, people are of course asking about 9/11. It was my daythatchangedeverything. They ask where I was because of what we endured that day and the days that followed. We felt confusion, shock, fear and anger as we watched the symbolic and tangible crash to the ground. Survivors, covered in dust, rushed away from the buildings while rescuers rushed towards them.
We experienced all of this live as it happened.
Collectively, but individually we lost some of our innocence, some of our very selves. Asking “Where were you?” is more than just about the details. It is about reassuring and reconnecting with each other and trying to understand our own identity.
I’m not inclined to give any thought to the 9/11 “truthers” today. Instead I choose to honor the memory of the people who perished.
So, where were you?