Friday, September 12, 2014

I studied abroad in Oxford, England during the fall semester of my sophomore year in 2001. While in Oxford, I lived in a dorm populated by American study-abroad participants. We’d had our morning medieval history lecture in the large lecture hall of our dorm and had come as a group up to the kitchen to make our lunches. Immediately after I sat down with my small mini-pizza, I heard a loud commotion in front of the TV in the next room over. I abandoned my food and ran to the TV only about a minute before the second tower collapsed. We were glued to the one TV in the dorm for the entire rest of the day and night, watching BBC news report on the attacks on the WTC towers and the Pentagon, as well as the downed planes. Several of my peers in my dorm were from New York and were beside themselves trying to get in contact with their families. I eventually was able to contact my family through email and then phone late that night, but almost all the international phone lines were unavailable.

As scheduled, our large group went to Stratford-upon-Avon, the hometown of Shakespeare, the next day to tour the town and then see Julius Caesar performed by the Royal Shakespeare company that night. None of us felt like being tourists. We didn’t want to hear English accents. We didn’t want to read London Times headlines of our country’s tragedy. We huddled together as we walked the cold, rainy streets. Around 6 in the evening, the group of four that I was walking around with happened upon an Anglican church that was all lit up, and we could hear music inside. We went inside and saw that every single seat was filled, and all the aisles, corridors, and hallways were filled as well. The service was a prayer and meditation service in honor of the lives that were lost on American soil the previous day. Although I’ll never be able to think of 9-11 without seeing the BBC news logos in my mind or hearing the news from a non-American point of view (…this is happening to THEM, not US), the most meaningful memory I hold of 9-11 is of that church service on 9-12. Hundreds of people who were not our countrymen or women were on their knees praying fervently for our country’s losses.

I remember flying home for Christmas and seeing ribbons and flags everywhere–in the airports, on school fences, on billboards, and in people’s windows and yards. It was jarring to see so much patriotism and support three months after the fact since I’d had no idea how much everyday sights had changed while I was overseas. These are a few of my memories from 13 years ago.

This post as well as many other recollections of 9-11 from my colleagues at Wayland can be found at

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