Bearing News

James Meyer

What were your surroundings when you first heard about the destruction of the twin towers?

“I was the second year of a two-year Master’s program at the University of Missouri, living downtown in one of those old apartment buildings that the newer high-rises now surround. It’s weird for me to consider, but back then, I started my mornings by turning on the ‘Today Show’ on NBC, and if I wasn’t in the room with the TV when the news first broke (There was a 33 percent chance, as the apartment only had three rooms period –the bathroom and kitchen being two of them). In moments, I was glued to the TV, and only left it to go to my afternoon class.”

What was your reaction?

“I realized pretty quickly that this was going to be a day that people would look back to. How could you not? It was visually horrific, even as the days of rescue and recovery rolled on. I remember only going to class and our professor beginning it by recognizing the gravity of the situation, and wanting to respect our voice about what we should do about class for the day. I wasn’t the only one, but I distinctly remember raising my hand and saying that I thought class that day didn’t feel right, that we needed to ‘be with’ the people watching all this, to each kind of bear witness. He cancelled class.”

How did the nation react?

“[The nation was] Shocked. Horrified. We all had utter disbelief—most knew nothing of Al Qaeda and were under the impression that the U.S. after the fall of Communism had ‘won.’ Academics were talking about the pre-9/11 world as being ‘the end of history.’ I mean, if you think about it that idea (something like an American ‘happily ever after’) is bonkers, but most folks had that sense.”

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