On 9/11/2001, I had a day off from work and had planned to run an errand down to the vicinity of the WTC. Specifically I had planned an errand to 30 West Broadway, the building that was irreparably damaged by the collapse of WTC 7.
Luckily for me, I was too tired and went back to sleep. I didn’t even realize that anything unusual was happening until around noon, when I got an email which mentioned that schools had been closed because of “the tragic events of this morning.” So I turned on the radio to find out what was going on.
I didn’t lose any loved ones, but a friend of mine did. Soon afterward, he moved out of the city because he couldn’t stand to live here anymore.
Many people at my workplace directly witnessed the destruction of the Twin Towers. The place where I work, in Queens, is not very close to Ground Zero, but it is up on a hill, so we have a good, unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline.
I bring these things up in response to Casseia’s and Petros Evdokas’s mention of a “traumatic mindfuck.” (See my post On our need for more scientists: Reply to Petros Evdokas.) Thinking about this some more, I wonder how many people were actually traumatized by the events of 9/11.
Certainly, many of the families and friends of the victims were traumatized. My friend was traumatized.
I personally was frightened and felt bad for my friend. For at least a few weeks afterward, I was afraid to ride the subways. And I missed seeing my friend, after he moved away. But it would be a great exaggeration to say that I was traumatized.
I might have been even more frightened than I was, perhaps even traumatized, if I had watched the day’s events on TV. I didn’t, because I don’t own a TV set.
Had I watched the day’s events on TV, I might also have noticed and wondered about things like why on Earth did Bush stay in that classroom for so long, and how on Earth did WTC 7 manage to collapse in such a straight-down, almost perfectly symmetrical manner. I didn’t even hear about these anomalies until years later. Nor, for that matter, did I see or hear the “Harley guy” until I saw him in a video just this past summer. But I digress.
I can’t speak for the many people who did watch the events of 9/11/2001 on TV, but who didn’t lose any loved ones, didn’t have any friends who lost loved ones either, didn’t narrowly escape being directly affected by the day’s events in some other way, and didn’t live or work in or near either New York City or Washington, D.C. But I suspect that most of these people, too, were frightened and saddened but not traumatized.