I’ve been kind of sad all day, thinking about the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It’s strange, some years I’ve said something about it on this blog, and some I haven’t. For some reason this year it’s been on my mind.
Dianne talked about what she was doing that day, as have some other blogs I have read. So it inspired me to look back at how I found out and what I did that day.
We were living in Santa Cruz and I got up at my usual time, 5:00 AM to get ready for work. I remember distinctly that I was blow-drying my hair and listening to the radio when I heard the people on the radio show talk about it. It was a local show and they just gave a news flash kind of thing where they said that one of the World Trade Center buildings was hit by a plane. At that point they thought it was a small private plane. I took the news like it was news. With slight indifference but also a bit of concern.
A few minutes later I turned on the television to watch one of the morning shows as I puttered around (as per my routine) and that’s when the gravity of the situation really unfolded. The first plane had hit and the tower was on fire. They were concerned about the fire and getting people out of there. At that point they knew it was a passenger plane but they weren’t talking about terrorist attacks at that point.
Then, as I was watching, the second tower was hit. My jaw just completely dropped. I sat down on the couch and became completely glued to the television. Something was very wrong. I remember Katie Couric briefly saying that this might be a terrorist attack but nobody really knew what was going on at that point. It was all just so horribly surreal.
The news casters were interviewing a reporter who happened to be at the Pentagon. When they were interviewing the reporter the plane hit the building. The reporter was stunned and talked about a bomb going off and the building shaking. This is when I got my husband up. There was clearly some kind of attack happening to our country and it was really scary. They only thing going through my mind was “what the fuck is going on? What’s going to happen next?”
I continued to watch as Matt Lauer made a comment about one of the buildings leaning over at a weird angle, deep concern and fear in is voice. He was kind of blown off. But he had reason to concern, as we all well know. When the tower fell I just broke down and cried. I thought about all of the people there under and inside the building and all of the lives that where probably gone in what seemed like a blink of an eye, right before my eyes. I could hardly believe it.
It was time for me to go to work, so I did. I made the trip over the Santa Cruz Mountains, like I did every day, twice a day. Instead of the 45 minute drive it took about an hour and a half. The road was clogged with traffic. I sat there, listening to the radio as everyone else was in their cars. Listening to the announcer describe the second tower’s fall. I looked over at my neighbor in the traffic jam and saw the looks of sadness, horror, and fear on their faces. I felt the same way.
At work I continued to watch the news. We set up a television in the back and we all watched it together. It was good to have the camaraderie’s that day so we could talk to each other about it. Some of the news stories got completely out of hand, I remember. There was one reporter being interview in Bagdad of all places and there were bombs going off in the background. Then they showed footage of some people in a middle eastern country dancing in the streets, supposedly happy that America was hit. yeah. The great propaganda machine at work, eh? When we were all at our most vulnerable.
The image that haunts me to this day, though, are the people that jumped out of the buildings I saved the Time Magazine that documented the events of September 11 and there is a picture of a man and a woman holding hands as they are falling to the ground to their death. That image has haunted me to this day. I don’t know why. But those people jumping out of the building really epitomize the horror of it all.
Strangely, I heard a poem on this very subject a few weeks ago on a podcast of To The Best Of Our Knowledge. It was written by (I think) Alice Walker or Toni Morrison and it was brilliant. I’ve been searching the internet and I can’t find it. I will find it and post it.