I have no clue where I was when Kennedy was shot. I was just days from turning 3 years old, but I have no idea where I was. I also don't remember it (I don't remember Robert or Martin Luther King jr. getting shot, either). But the moment I turned my web browser to CNN's web site to see the news about "that awful event happening in America" 5 years ago, is nailed to my memory. I see my desk, I see the sunshine streaming through the windows, I feel my body go hot with grief and rage.
A co-worker who was a bit of a joker came up to my grandma at work around lunch time PST on November 22 1963, and started with, "Did you hear about the president being shot?" and my grandma expected a joke, and smiled and said, "No, what about him?" and got a disgusted look in return, then was informed that the president had really been shot. A co-worker who was a bit of a joker came by my desk around 4 pm CED on September 11 2001, and asked me if I'd heard about that awful event in the US. I answered, "You mean the earthquake in Los Angeles?" which had happened just the day before, and was rewarded with a incredulous stare, then a firm comment that he meant the big plane crash. That's when I turned to my web browser and saw the breaking news.
My immediate reaction was to cry, followed a second later by utter anger and a comment that those who did that, who hijacked the planes and flew them into those buildings, should all be executed. Considering I am currently against the death penalty, that was a pretty strong reaction. But it was honest, unmodified, from the heart, and I'll own it.
I spent hours at home that afternoon and evening watching the video clips of the planes going into the twin towers on Manhattan, over and over again. I was especially sad, because I had been on vacation to New York just a couple of months earlier and had my own picture of the Manhattan skyline, complete with towers. One of the people I was with, loved going up to the top of the towers for the view. Today, watching the reruns of the towers collapsing in on themselves, I cried again.
After the attacks in 2001, I was overjoyed at the complete support of and genuine sympathy for Americans pouring out everywhere, something I had never experienced before - and then George W. Bush totally squandered all the good-will coming from all over the world. That got me almost as angry as watching the planes crash.
My life has not changed since 9/11. I did visit the US for the first time since 2001 last year and made the "mistake" of cracking a joke with some security officer (not a bomb joke, though). Luckily, he didn't see me as any kind of threat. Other than that, and taking shoes off during security checks, America doesn't seem much different. I am, however, very happy I live in Norway, without a government that does its best to scare its citizens or itself.