I probably should not mark the anniversary of 9/11, but it is hard to resist. Especially since my students overwhelmingly consider that event to be their first significant memory of an international event.
I was in the Pentagon at the time the planes hit in NYC, but on a bridge between the Pentagon and the State Department when the plane hit in DC. I told my tale a few years ago on radio. I think I would have as strong a reaction to conspiracy theories about 9/11 even I was not in DC that day. I don't have much tolerance for them or for stupidity in general. Unless you believe that Osama Bin Laden is not real and Al Qaeda does not exist, then you need to consider the real conspiracy--a bunch of folks boarded planes, held hostages and drove those planes into buildings--and those folks were from the Middle East, not the Bush Administration, CIA or Mossad. Give credit where credit is due--and doing otherwise is racist--that Arabs and Muslims are incapable of planning and implementing such a set of actions.
Thinking about that day and the waste of human lives then and the political capital since puts my own concerns and annoyances into perspective. It really does not matter what status one has, or how the combination of vanity and cowardice can lead to unjust outcomes over relatively small stakes.
Anyhow, perhaps the best way to capture the feelings of the time is to see Dave Letterman and his finest hour.