Red White Blue and Gray
The sunny, blue sky helped to keep me calm as I inched south in a typical Tuesday traffic jam on I-270 on the way to a 9am doctor appointment in Bethesda. I had already called the doctor's office to say I'd be late.
The DJs and traffic reporter, co-workers at the radio station I work for, were laughing about who knows what when suddenly one of them said "Oh my God." A few seconds of silence was followed by "it looks like a plane hit the World Trade Center in New York."
The next few minutes were filled with hopeful speculation that maybe it was just a small plane that veered off course and hit the tower. That would be a tragedy, of course, but probably would mostly result in few deaths, few injuries, little structural damage to the building and maybe a few months of investigative reporting about air traffic control and pilot training.
As I left my annual physical exam three hours later, I simultaneously faced traffic gridlock of an evacuating D.C. and the unimaginable news that two airliners had intentionally flown into two of the WTC towers and another crashed into the Pentagon, less than fifteen miles from me. Two of the tallest buildings in the world had collapsed and the Pentagon was on fire.
Today, sixteen years later, the image of that day is as fresh for me as it was then, enhanced by this morning's sunny blue sky and my ride to work on I-270. The 'few months of investigative reporting' has become a decade and a half of countless stories of heroism, terrorism, patriotism, flight safety and building design.
Every aspect of life in the USA has changed and reminders exist everywhere, perhaps most notably at security check points in airports, stadiums and buildings.
Hurricane Irma coverage is the only reason 9/11 isn't the lead news story today; it's number two.
Some people choose to forget or downplay memories of September 11, 2001 and others choose to remember every detail. I choose to remember. I never want to forget the fear and feeling of vulnerability. I also never want to forget the coming together of people, Americans helping Americans.
Maybe the societal divisiveness we are currently experiencing in our great country will take a break today. Maybe the anniversary of that tragic day will help us remember the unity we felt in the aftermath of terror.