On September 11, 2001, I had just gotten back from overseas. I’d been in Israel, a business trip. While there, I picked up some kind of nasty bug that kept me very close to home — and a bathroom — and so, I was at home when the phone rang. Sandy and I were in my bedroom, sorting through some clothing. It was Owen — her husband, my son — on the phone.
“Turn on the television,” Owen said.
“What channel?” I asked.
“Any channel,” he said. “Do it now.”
I did. “The World Trade Center is on fire,” I said.
“A plane hit it,” he said. And as I watched, another plane hit the other tower and the world spun round and nothing was the same after that.
We watched, silently. Owen was watching at work, on the other end of the phone line. Then, a tower was gone.
“The tower is gone. Gone,” I whispered.
Then, the other tower fell.
Nothing remained but a cloud of dust and a giant pile of toxic rubble. Information started to come in. One of my co-workers was supposed to be on one of the planes that had hit a tower. I called, but he said he had changed his mind at the last minute. He felt he didn’t want to go on that flight. He’d take a different flight, later.
Close as we were to Boston, everyone was calling friends, family, trying to find out who was where, who was not, if anyone knew something. We watched television, we waited. Garry got home from Channel 7. He said the newsroom had been a very strange place that day. Very strange.
We knew the world had changed. We didn’t know how much.
16 years later, we know. It will never be the same. So many differences, some subtle, most not-so-subtle. It was the end of our belief in our invulnerability. Here was an enemy we didn’t know we had, didn’t know was out to get us. Maybe the government knew, but it hadn’t trickled down to “the people.” We didn’t recognize the hatred behind the rhetoric.
This is a good day to remember who lived, who died. And how hatred still rules the world.
Has anything we have done, any fighting in which we have been engaged during the past 16 years made the world safer? Or better? No? Then we need to start fixing the reasons for war.
Terry Pratchett defined Peace as “that period of time during which nations prepare for the next war.” We need to change that. I do not claim to know how, but I’m not the President.