REMEMBERING THE DAY

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.

Hitting the Tower

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.

Firefighters-9.11

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.

30 thoughts on “REMEMBERING THE DAY

  1. I was at work when someone told us of the first plane. We rushed to the conference room where they had a television in time to see the second tower hit. I worked in air freight and since planes were grounded, we did not have work for days. All the air freight security rules began to change after that. Many things are different now.

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  2. Even seasoned TV News Veterans froze in their tracks that day. Most of us were numb as we went about our assignments. Foreign correspondents — accustomed to attacks on their home land — gently noted our loss of innocence.

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  3. I can’t imagine how strange the newsroom must have been — it was even rather surreal in Las Vegas, where I was caught in a business meeting that didn’t really happen, and in Orlando 10 days later where that meeting was held despite the fears and concerns of everybody there.

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    • It was in spirit not unlike that day when JFK was assassinated. A sense of unreality. Garry was the senior guy and they all looked at him and asked … “What do we do now?” And he told them. Eventually everyone remembered to just focus on one thing at a time and that’s what they did. The rest of us, not in the news biz, spent a lot of time making sure friends and family were alive — or not. The phone lines were jammed. And when the towers went down, a lot of the Internet crashed with them because many of the hubs were IN the towers. There are a lot of stories there, many coming from my son who was working in the big Boston hub.

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      • When I realized what was happening, and that I was away from home, I called my mother. I commented that it reminded me of the day Kennedy was assassinated — she interrupted me to say it reminded her of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I hope it’s not a precursor of one or two similar incidents within everybody’s lifetime.

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  4. I was in London visiting my dad and waiting for my cousin to pick us up for a visit, who I had not seen for at least 15 years. In the meanwhile the TV was on while we were waiting and I really thought they were showing one of those die hard silly films when I suddenly realised what was going on. Dad did not understand anything, it was the others for him. Funny my first thought was terrorist. It was a day that you never forget.

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    • Coming from Europe, you probably had a lot more direct experience with terrorism. We had had our own, home-grown terrorists, but those from abroad had mostly stayed across the pond. Not since Pearl Harbor had such a thing happened … and it was very jolting.

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  5. In London, time stood still and didn’t start to move again for a few sluggish days. Despite the awful things that happened I always rmemeber the bravery and sacrifice of so many people, especially the first responders. That is my memory, and it keeps me sane.

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  6. I remember this day very clearly. I had just arrived back in New Zealand with my 2 small children. My mother rung me to tell me to turn the TV on. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We were live from New York all day that day on all TV channels.

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      • Our firefighters had a tribute to those lost in 9/11 ( WP won’t let me paste the website) and read out all the names and those lost on duty here in New Zealand. Then they walked to the top of Auckland’s Sky City Tower – our tallest building here in New Zealand. They each carried a name tag of those lost. A bad, bad day

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  7. I had just moved to Las Vegas and had many friends who still lived and worked in New York. One family friend was only a few years older than me and had been working in one of the towers for under a year. That day she went to the gym to work out because she didn’t have to be in to work until later.

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    • So many stories like that, of people who were supposed to be on one of those planes, but at the last minute decided they should go the next day or on a later flight. And the others stories, of course, of those who didn’t get the whispered message.

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    • We have had so much war in my lifetime. Nothing but and it doesn’t seem to ever “fix” anything. I will grant that there are times and situations where there’s no choice, but so many times the wars we fight are because of the wars we fought before and their aftermath. This never-ending cycle of war and revenge and more war. Sad.

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  8. It was night here in Australia when we first heard what had happened. David was watching the late news and called me saying that a plane had hit the World Trade Centre. We watched nearly all night as the towers came down hardly believing what we were seeing. It was a strange night. Our local high school caught fire, we saw it from our window and called it in, a policeman came knocking at our door looking for our across the street neighbour. I worked in a hotel then and we had some American guests, none of us knew what to say to them as the constant television coverage told the whole story. I recall hearing one guest say after a couple of days. “I had to turn it off. I couldn’t keep on crying.” That day did change everything and we don’t seem to be any closer to working out how to stop these things from happening. In fact it often feels as if some politicians would prefer us to be scared to take our minds off other things they are doing, or not doing.

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    • I knew when it happened that the world would never be the same, but somehow, I didn’t imagine it could get as bad as it is. That politicians are happy to use it as a way to get votes is just terribly wrong. Sad. I often wonder how awful the world will get before we turn around and begin to find ways to fix things.

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  9. I remember sitting in my kitchen with my husband and our 7 month old granddaughter eating breakfast watching Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America. When it first happened, it was a small plane that had hit the building by mistake, and then the second one and no one really knew what was happening. Then the Pentagon and PA. 9/11 is like the day JFK was shot – we all know exactly where we were and what we were doing. And, yes, if only someone could define peace for all of us it most certainly would be welcome.

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