Never forget 9/11
September 13, 2008
Sorry, not ski related, but big event tomorrow morning at Pentagon - dedication of the memorial for victims of the 9/11 attack seven years ago. I'll be attending, let you know how it goes.
1 hour & 7 minutes till 9/11...I won't ever forget!...7 years with 0 more attacks here in the good ole USA...At least Bush & Crew have done something right!
Hey fish, jimK,
mrs jimmy, jess & i were as close as you could get to ground zero two weeks after the attack,
we'll never forget!!!
It's hard to believe that it's been 7 years. I still rememeber the ensuing days here in Virginia and the strangeness of everything. With our proximity to DC we are accustomed to air traffic and there was none. The skys were clear. Travel was only due to necessity.... Everyone was thinking someone was going to blow things up. Very strange indeed. We take a lot for granted.
Just got back from a beautiful and moving Pentagon 9/11 Memorial Dedication Ceremony, check this link for photos: http://www.defenselink.mil/homepagephotos/homepagephotos.aspx
The event began around 8am with nice musical interludes by top Service bands and singers, then a reading of the names of the victims, followed by other honors. The actual attack occurred at 9:37 am on 9/11/01. About 9:27 this morning every VIP in town swept in under tight security. Numerous speeches ensued, including one by Pres Bush. One of the more heartfelt speakers was Donald Rumsfeld, who was in the building on 9/11 and reminisced on a personal level about getting to know families of the victims and about the enormous shudder throughout the building at the moment of impact. The Pentagon was made out of concrete during WWII to withstand just such an aerial attack. Who knew it would come 60 years later, but that is why only 184 died and about 50 of those were on the aircraft. My favorite moment of the ceremony came just before the big shots arrived when an Army bugler played taps from the roof of the Pentagon where a giant American Flag is draped. Beside him stood a small number of the first responders, police, and firemen who famously hung a flag at the same spot right after the attack. As the bugler played a commercial airliner passed overhead on the way to Reagan Nat'l Airport one mile away. Some kind of an "only in America" feeling hit me as we commemorated the honored dead while the very instruments of their death continued to fly above us. The world changed on 9/11, but terror can't stop the business of the day as our great country moves forward.
I'll always remember where I was and how I felt. I was so distressed that I refused hang on every image and word as it all unfolded in the media. The endless speculating on the number of dead, wondering if it were a crash and why no warning, surely air traffic knew. I just wanted to hop in the car and head up to Laurel, get in the mountains and let the day's tragedy unfold but I managed to be in front of the TV when the second one hit and the stark realization that this is no accident. Now I really wanted to get to the mountains, this was going to be wild. I think it was before the Towers fell when we heard that Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville not far from the Laurel Ridge. Then I realized that not even the mountains were sanctuary.
My sincere hope for this day is that we will cherish the freedoms that we enjoy, pay tribute to all that gave their last full measure and vow to allow nothing to diminish our Liberty. We must hold up the highest ideal of this American promise and continue on.
it was, as i recall, quite an ordinary tuesday - i wore my usual blue sleeve workshirt, a tie with red and blue stripes, gold tie clip and slightly-frayed-at-the-cuff grey trousers and my security badge around my neck.
i was of course late, but unusually late - having a sleepy pot-hangover i started out tardy to work but what does it matter - only tuesday so what can possibly happen. monday had come and gone without problem or persecution, the servers all in linear-order, the Outlook server marching to a steady beat. just a quick 3 mile drive in my snubby dodge raider 4x4, scramble for a street-space, zig-zag-park and i'd be at my desk before anyone noticed my european arrival.
fast fingers flew over a security keypad, a quick hypno-elevator ride up five flights, and i stride almost to my office at a little after 9:10 am as lorraine tells tell me in passing there has been a terrible airline accident in new york city. i throw my bag in my office as usual and check my email.
her comments outside my office grow louder as dale comes out to discuss what is going on in new york. i stop looking at the virus scanner server reports and join in as well - "damn that has to be a hell of a pilot error to hit that building".
the report of the second aircraft's impact makes my brain totally stop. now at least 8 people, out of their offices, are in the open area discussing. i make the comment that "this' gotta be some sort of attack" and jerry, the older-executive director comes out to listen as well to lorraine's radio.
"let's get the tv" a crowd-voice demands as now a dozen make their way to the kitchen/lunch room where a old tv on a push-cart,lazy like i was in the morning, slowly warms up and displays a pale video news image that gradually becomes more contrast-y.
we see an image of a prismatic square mirror-building being penetrated by a sliver winged tube, an array of blue-sky panels fracturing under a human-filled missile, black smoke curling past the puncture-point in real-time slow-motion.
now twenty individuals in the lunch-room gag at the sight as the TV new person tells again how that airliner was followed by another, striking the twin of the mirror-tower, a double-birth carnage of rising new-smoke joins a brother of raging fire.
meanwhile i try to improve the tv reception by threading a wire into the antenna jack with rubber-hands. after all, i am the i.t. guy.
the airliners make a whistle-howl as they pull out of their last turns and hit their targets again as the replay on the tv loops - but already several in the front of the office where my window is have noticed the black plume of smoke rising in the distance, right along with the carpet of people on the street staring up into the sky. what could make so much smoke?
the stereo-reports from one tv and one radio gives now 25 people the answer. i check my email and write people i care about.
the servers all run perfectly and quietly.
we agree, all 30 of us, that we should leave and go home. outside thousands of people stream in neat lines out of their day-work and into their nightmares as i notice not one aircraft clutters the blue sky today.
i ditch my 4x4 on a convenient sidewalk amid the clutter of other abandoned cars next to the Bread and Chocolate - bread and sweets locked behind a CLOSED sign.
just before this i have only one duty left; i stop at a still-open western union to wire $300 to a friend so she can post bail for her boyfriend.
now thousands are dead.
at night the fighters light their afterburners above my head.
tomorrow i will wear my white workshirt, and a solid blue tie underneath the fighters.
- and the server will all run perfectly and quietly -
I was in Annapolis, at work. It was such a perfect day. If I remember right, it had been pretty hot that summer and that first early fall air was on us- sunny, warm, unhumid, crystal clear blue skies. Not the type of day you associate with disaster.
We had recently been bought by a Canadian firm, and a guy was down from their shop trying to deal with our own little crisis (the day the deal closed, our CEO walked out with his exit package, unexpectedly. Within a week most of the senior staff followed, leaving the purchaser thinking "what the hell did we just buy" and the rest of us at the firm thinking "what the hell is going to happen to us"). We were a trade shop, so there were TVs everywhere. A guy came over from the trade floor- some moron just hit the Towers.
Well, you can imagine the rest. You know the rest, you were there. Oggling at the stupidity of the pilot, turning to concern- that's an awfully big hole for a small traffic plane- turing to fear (who would be dumb enough to let a passenger jet fly that close to the World Trade Centers after... what the hell was that?!?!?) turning to utter horror and denial. No, the Trade Center didn't just fall, there's just a lot of debris and we can't see it. That's all. By the time the second one fell, you felt so hopeless it barely mattered.
Right after the first one fell, the guy from Canada made some joke about the whole situation. I think he was trying to lighten the mood a little, but it came off horribly, like someone who just didn't give a damn and didn't understand. Only worse than that. I think about a dozen of us were ready to thrash him.
Anyway, the towers fell, town was evacuated. I stayed behind... I hate traffic, always have, and didn't feel like fighting the cars to get home. Besides, there's not that many people in Annapolis so the roads clear out quickly. And who exactly was going to attack Annapolis, anyway? I wasn't married, no pets at home, no particular rush to get back to the apartment. So I stayed.
I wandered around town for a bit. It was so empty. It was like the world had just been abandoned and there was this warm air, this somnambulence under a clear blue sky and the day was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Nothing happened. No, how could anything have happened? That's what I wanted to think- even the next morning when I woke up I was half-hoping it had all been a bad dream but it wasn't. But I knew better that day. Towns like Annapolis aren't deserted under a jet blue sky on a Tuesday at two p.m. because NOTHING HAPPENED TODAY.
Every now and then I peered back to the west, to see if there was any signs from the Pentagon. Any smoke. Of course not.
I'm Catholic. I found myself in front of a Catholic Church. I walked in, dabbed some holy water on myself and sat down at a pew to pray. I dropped the kneeler and got down on my knees, and- not knowing the death toll yet, thinking it was around 20,000- this is what I prayed:
"God, You let us down."
Then I was silent. And resigned to the fact that we were going to war. (it still was hard to hear, a few weeks later, when I was at church in Seattle, that we had begun bombing Afghanistan. The priest made a special announcement before mass. I think everyone in there struggled to accept what he had said.)
Of course, for me one lesson I was to discover, fewer than 3,000 people died and, given what we knew- or at least, what I knew- and didn't know on 9/11, the fact that the death toll wasn't thousands upon thousands higher taught me a lesson in humility. No, God didn't let us down. He saved a lot of people that day. Maybe He tried His best too, like the FDNY did. Even if you can't save everyone, you can still perform miracles.
I'll never forget discovered what happened in Shanksville, either. About- what, two days later? When I heard what those passengers did I burst out crying. That moment when they brought Flight 93 down on their own, that was one of this nation's finest hours.
It was so terrible and yet it brought out the best in so many people, heroes were everywhere. So it was odd because on the one hand I found myself terrifed, angry, and despairing and yet on the other hand I discovered a new wellspring of faith in my fellow man. That we might bicker a lot but when push came to shove, we were more good than bad, and sometimes even great, and selfless in the absolute sense of the word. I found some comfort in watching how ordinary individuals reacted to 9/11, comforted in some small way that even if we aren't angels, I was probably surrounded in everyday life by great people.
And maybe in that way, God didn't let me down, either.
Yeah, I don't think many of us will forget that day.
Some of you know, but for those who don't, I'm an educator. A high school teacher in Culpeper Virginia. That fateful morning, I had to call into the main office regarding a student's absence. The secretary asked me if I had heard (at that time I was teaching in a portable classroom and communication resembled stones and chisels) She had said that NY City had been attacked and that there was a rumor that DC had been attacked too. Knowing no other details I looked at my class of 28 10th,11th and 12th graders and wondered how or if I should say anything. I decided to wait until I could find out more. I heard a knock on my door. It was one of our asst. principals who asked me to step outside and it was then that I learned of the attack on the Pentagon. I had three students that had a parent who worked there. That was the hardest thing, telling those kids that their parent may have been a victim of this horrific act.
Although none of my students lost any of their loved ones, our community did. We had a lot of students leave school early that day. Parents, filled with anxiety, flocked in to pick up their childern. We tried to maintain a degree of normalcy in spite of the news reports, the rumors, and the sensationalism surrounding this event. In the ensuing days and weeks the kids wanted to talk about what happened and why. They didn't understand why others in this world hated us so much that they would do such a thing. After school activities were canceled that week as were many community events. Friends and colleagues of middle eastern decent felt the backlash of the attacks. The venemous rage that they experienced was appalling.
The world changed that day and it saddens me. Children are impressionable and the adult world created a whole new generation filled with fears and anxieties. We may never forget, but someday we need to learn.
this was an amazing thread regarding 9-11 . it would be so great to have this anthology published somewhere.
just one last thought - sorry i didn't interject with this on thursday it seems it would be too much but i do work on the web development team that made the new Flight 93 Memorial website and hope some of you would help fund this effort to make a memorial near our well-known Seven Springs in Somerset County to honor those heroes that turned it around on that horrible day. This National Park Foundation monument is very important.
PS. hey Leo - now u r the dumb-a$$ .. see you don't know me at all.
You know, it's not the same caliber from a national perspective, Kim, but I was less than a year out of VT when the shooting occurred there. For better, I didn't know anyone who was killed. But I was talking to one of my professors shortly after, he knew a couple people who had lost children or parents. I can't imagine how awful that must be.
Teachers have a tough job. I really, really don't envy you in moments like that... thanks for all you do for our communities!
A lot of heroic stories on that day and since fighting terrorism, but those people that charged the cockpit on Flight 93 - they take the cake. I don't know that I would have had the guts. It is speculated that their aircraft was headed for the Capitol Building or White House.