In 2001, at age 9 going on 10, I began writing a diary, which was really more of a journal, and continued this practice for several years. For the 19th commemoration of the September 11 attacks, here is my diary entry from the day after the attacks, as well as an epilogue on my childhood and political transformation.
Date: Wednesday, September 12, 2001
My 36th diary entry.
Not much happened to me. I have been doing a lot of algebra. Daddy went to work 3 days ago. Daddy went to work at 10 A.M. I continued making a chain out of paper. On Sep. 9 we went to Big Lots and I got 2 poster boards. I started making a paper chain. On the day after that I got up and Daddy had gone to work. I watched cartoons and continued making the paper chain. I cut poaster [sic] boards into strips and cut those strips in half. Then I make it into an interlocking chain. I did that all day. Daddy got home at 2 P.M. I put the chain up. It starts above the computer and goes left and enters the front room. It goes around the perimeter of the front room. It goes above the T.V. and stops above the air-conditioner. I went to sleep and woke up and played Mickey’s Speedway U.S.A. [Nintendo 64 video game] Daddy had been watching the news. He got up and told me a jumbo jet hit the north World Trade Center and another hit the south tower. One also crashed into the Pentagon. I turned on the T.V. at 8:50 A.M. 4 planes were hijacked. A few minutes later one of the planes, a 767 jet hit the north World Trade Center. A little while later a 757 [correction: 767] jet hit the south tower. Later the whole south tower collapsed. Then a half hour later the north tower collapsed. It looked like winter. 6 inches of dust covered New York City. The towers were each 1,385 feet high. Then, a little later a 757 hit the Pentagon and penetrated through the outer 3 rings. A hijacked 757 jet crashed in an open field in Penn. The whole country shut down. All the air ports shut down. Disney World’s 4 parks, Universal, Sea World, and many other parks closed. I think that the government shouldn’t be able to shut down the whole country. They’re going to damage the world economy and maybe even kill people. *
I just watched T.V. and made my paper chain longer. At 5:57 a 47 story building near the World Trade Center fell. When those jumbo jets hit the World Trade Center, they had a full tank of fuel which caused explosions that weakened other buildings. Today airports are still closed. We went to Scotty’s to see its lumber [a home improvement retailer that went out of business in 2005]. I spent 5 dollars. Now they’ve got toys in there. Really junky toys. I got some toys because they were marked down. It is preety [sic] gloomy in Scotty’s. We went to Big Lots, too. We didn’t do much else.
It’s terrible that thousands of people died when the World Trade Center collapsed.
* Epilogue: I was schooled at home by my father, supervised by a private school, for grades 2–12 after having attended Westside Elementary in Daytona Beach in 1996–1997 for kindergarten and several months of 1st grade (I skipped the remainder of the grade). His views had an enduring impact on me, which were Libertarian and individualistic, including many conspiracy theories and unsavory beliefs, later to include “9/11 was an inside job” (per Alex Jones / Infowars). Our relationship should have ended much earlier, and did end after Kristy and I had our son on February 27th, 2019, at his prerogative being outraged that we vaccinated his grandson. Following this, I switched political affiliations from the Republican party to the Democratic party on March 8th, 2019 as described in this essay, married Kristy on November 22th, 2019, graduated with my PhD in Education at University of Central Florida on December 13th, 2019, started running for Congress on January 1st, 2020, and lost on August 18th, 2020. I lived with my father and my step-mother (his 3rd wife) until age 26. If you spent as much time around him as I did, you may have been convinced of Donald Trump’s greatness, too, along with alternative medicine, the moon landing hoax, the flat earth (he managed to have convincing arguments), and the superiority of white men. My mother moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998 and I did not get to see her much until adulthood. She still lives there now and encourages Kristy and I to move there for the great weather and jobs (although the firestorms are a downside). She is a Chinese immigrant, an evangelical Christian, and a Donald Trump supporter presently collecting petitions to recall Governor Gavin Newsom. I kid you not.
You may have noticed a lack of emotion in reading this. Kristy and I think this is a product of my upbringing. We are trying to be better parents to our son than our parents were to us. The September 11th attacks were heartrending, even with no personal connections except having witnessed them on television as a child. But with COVID-19, we are basically having the same as two 9/11’s a week, and a big percentage of the population has managed to downplay and compartmentalize it. You have to, to a certain extent, to get by—but we should be better than this, better than treating our fellow Americans as disposable, with no defensible rationale. Humanity has been down this road many times. No encore performance is required.