Sunday, September 10, 2006

Remembering September 11, 2001

My memory is slightly fuzzy on the first bits. It was going to be a slow day at work, so I slept in a bit. As was my practice at that time, I had the TV set to go on around 7 to the WGN news. I'm pretty sure I woke up just before, or as, the second plane hit. Whatever time it was, it was before they started replaying the hit(s) over and over and over for the next three months. I started calling people to tell them to turn on the TV. I also threw a tape into the VCR to record CNN, while I continued to watch WGN. They leveraged the terror nicely by keeping a live shot of the Sears Tower in the lower corner of the screen.

When the plane hit the Pentagon, that's when the freakout began. I said to whoever I was talking to on the phone, "oh my god, the WTC was just a decoy for the real thing." At the time there were reports flying about the various planes that were in the sky heading for DC. In fact, on one of the channels, a live reporter got chased away from the White House by dudes with automatic weapons. Then there was the report of the Capitol being on fire. Finally, CO's last day for a defense contractor was that day, and I worked myself into believing that he could have been in the building doing a debriefing or something. I was unwell until I heard from him later.

I remember thinking how surreal it would be to see the NYC skyline with two abandoned, charred hulks just standing there after they got the fires out. I remembered that the buildings were designed to take a hit from a 707, and I wondered whether they would repair them or dismantle them. Almost vomited when the first tower came down, because at the time the news was speculating on just how many people might still be in the building. Tens of thousands killed on live tv.

One 'cool' thing about the day was when WGN inadvertantly broadcast Air Force One taking off from Florida or Louisana. It's generally accepted that you don't broadcast it taking off for security reasons- don't want anyone to know what the plane can do. Being a high-anxiety type of situation, the plane pulled out all the security stops. I swear, that thing went straight up. On any other day, it would have been the most unbelievable thing I'd seen that day. As a sidebar, I don't blame the President one bit for being "unavailiable" for most of that day. He can run the country from that plane, and the Secret Service's job is to keep him alive. Heck, as I remember the stories, he wanted to go right back to Washington and they advised against it. You can't have the President of the United States in harm's way, no matter what you think of him.

I also think that he was at his strongest and most natural later that week while standing on the rubble pile. He was comforting to me, and not just because he promised to blow something up.

Anyway, everyone knows the story from there. Insomnia, constant CNN watching, terror, paranoia. I do remember the erie lack of planes in the sky for a week.

Then there was that plane crash in Queens on Nov. 12. I was driving on 355 when I heard the radio report and all those two month old wounds were briefly reopened.

So where are we now?


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