Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eleven

It is hard to believe that the terrorist attacks of September 11th happened eleven years ago today. I have so much to say but I don’t even know where to start. I’ll just write a few random thoughts.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was 9 am on a sunny Tuesday. I was stuck in a traffic jam in suburban DC, heading to a doctor’s office for a physical and some tests. The DJs on my radio station were chattering about upcoming songs when one of them stopped mid-sentence and said “oh my God!” He explained the breaking news flash he had just seen on the TV in the studio. All of this flashed back in my head at 9am this morning as I was stuck in a traffic jam on the same highway listening to the same radio station, only this time I was listening to a ‘moment of silence’ audio piece I produce for playback at appropriate times every 9/11.

I left the doctor’s office around noon, exiting the parking lot into the massive traffic jam caused by the evacuation of DC. It took two hours to drive the usual twenty minutes to my office. By that time the towers had collapsed, a plane had hit the Pentagon, all non-military aircraft were being ordered down and for the first time in my life I felt I understood what real terror felt like … the uncertainty, the rumors, the fear that more was coming. That was certainly what the cowards who caused this shit wanted.

Some people I know want to forget all of this and move on. Others want to remember every last detail. Both are coping mechanisms and ways of dealing with grief and loss. I am in the ‘remember every detail’ camp. That works for me. I don’t ever want to forget the fear and outrage. I also don’t ever want to forget the way people came together to help each other out.

As I write this I am watching that History Channel documentary … the one made up entirely of archive footage shot that day by a variety of people including news crews, fire and rescue and random citizens with camcorders. There is no narrator. The audio includes random people describing what they are seeing, excerpts from fire fighter communications and emergency dispatchers, assorted radio and TV reports in the background, people screaming as they run away from the debris. The video includes close-ups from nearly the foot of the towers as well as shorts from across the river in New Jersey, close-ups of flames shooting out of the building, close-ups of people hanging out of windows waving things screaming for help, debris falling from the towers, people falling from the towers, the towers collapsing. Every few minutes a running digital clock is shown on the screen. This is as real as it gets. Hard to watch but maybe the most compelling thing I have ever seen on television. I watched plenty of it last year too. I cannot watch the whole thing.

I have more to say but I think I’ll stop now, except to say our country survived this and many of the terrorists did not. Terrorism still exists and we are still vulnerable, but we are also stronger and safer than this day eleven years ago. God bless America.

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