Monday, September 11, 2006

Today was a day about a lot of moments of silence.
My co-workers were pretty subdued. People were reminded. Every passing aircraft took on a sinister appearance.
I'm sure everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing. I thought back to where I was five years ago.
I was in a status meeting in a conference room at Conoco discussing merging the I.T. department into Philips. The voice on the other end of the speakerphone in Oklahoma broke off and drifted into silence. Then it continued:
"Hey. Turn on the TV."
My manager asked what channel.
"I don't think it matters. I'll call back later."
We turned on the TV.
I called my wife.
The second plane hit.
My manager (a former military officer) determined that a plane would need to weave between several buildings to hit ours. I don't think we were as comforted as he may have intended.
Some of us drifted down to the little cafe downstairs to watch more of the coverage. Newscasters reported an estimated 30 unaccounted for flights. While these were later re-discovered (two unimaginably tragically), I don't think I've ever looked up again without a feeling of distrust somewhere in the back of my mind.
In the weeks and months following we heard stories from the survivors and learned about the lost. Everyone I knew wanted to strike back. I think that effort has not gone as well as it should have.
The images we watched live vanished from the airwaves within a couple of days. It was considered in poor taste.
We filled the time with Fear Factor and I'm afraid we have forgotten what it truly means to be afraid.
I read every article I could find today. There are stories from September 11 that I missed in the noise of the original coverage. Those stories deserved to be told.
I have tried to wrap my brain around the hatred that caused it and I just can't. How can people justify that?
The services and memorials are important, but I think if we don't grow as a people then the event is even more tragic.
Five years ago I think I realized that any day that I can go home after work is a good day.


Darrell Davis said...

Indeed Five years ago I decided to join the US Army because I thought maybe I could help someone, somehow.

Joe said...

Five years ago yesterday, I had one of my forensics students run into my office before my 9:30 a.m. class and told me to turn on the TV. We (meaning most of America) was still deciding whether or not some rookie pilot in a Cessna had made a horrible mistake ... when the second plane hit.

Everyone went into shock. I started my COM4110 class as usual and instead of discussing the course material I led a discussion on the nature of international terrorism, explaining to 25 college students who Osama Bin Laden was, about the Taliban, and about every other question they could come up with. Everyone in the room, without exception, knew people in New York and in D.C. ... everyone was worried about their friends or their siblings or their cousins or even the friend of a friend of a friend. But we all did what came naturally ... we dealt with the situation by treating it in the abstract, by looking at it with a scholarly sensibility that helped ward off the terror of that morning.

When the governor's office officially shut down all campuses and state agencies 8000 students, faculty and staff were required to evacuate the campus, reality had begun to set in. That was the longest drive home I've ever had.

After things settled down, I realized that I had coped with what happened by doing what I enjoyed most ... teaching. It was a way to reassert structure in the face of chaos, to reject fear in favor of normalcy.

Normalcy is a word that, in the past five years, has somehow lost its meaning.

Pamela Moore said...

We were one-week residents of Los Angeles. We'd witnessed our first earthquake and our first riot. I woke up and saw the images on TV but figured it was some random show (not knowing my U.S. landmarks all that well). I went back to sleep wondering how I could get work to pay for our ridiculously expensive studio apartment. I woke up later and it was still on TV. I woke up Andrew and we watched in shock.

That's when the phone calls began. Calls to and from family in Arkansas verifying that we were fine. Calls to my sister in St. Louis to be sure she was dealing with it okay. We went to our church for a candlelight vigil.

Any day that I'm awakened by a dog bark or a foot in my face is a better day than waking to two towers on fire on TV.