I think that I would remember Tuesday, September 11, 2001 as vividly as I do even without all of the video clips we see in continuous rotation around this time every year.
I was at home – I was off work that day and scheduled for jury duty the next day. I did not have the television on. I was listening to the radio and the newsman on there said that there was a fire at the World Trade Center and that he was watching this unfold on television and he actually recommended that all of us who were listening should get to a television as fast as possible because this did not seem like an accident to him.
I turned on the Today show just in time to see the second plane hit. I called my wife at her work to see if she was seeing this and they had turned on a television there also. The internet was more of a novelty at the time – most people still had dial up modems – so the main choice to get news was still television and I think we all sat in front of the television until late into the night.
I remember that it was a beautiful and clear day here just like it was in New York City. I don’t remember the weather on many days but I do remember that day. It sticks out because it seems so odd for it to be so beautiful when so much bad was happening.
Since Sara was due in October, my first thoughts were about what kind of world we were bringing her in to. There was a great deal of uncertainty as to what was going to happen and that didn’t just wear off after a few days – it seemed to last for months and months. For example, the color coded terror threat system that came out of all of that was a constant reminder of the danger we were in. It was always with us.
The only things I can even remotely compare 9/11 to in my lifetime are President Reagan being shot, the Space Shuttle Challenger accident, and the Oklahoma City bombing. All of these events were just hard to comprehend – each in their own unique way. Sure, other “events” have happened, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind as I write this as being the ones I witnessed that changed our country the most.
For me personally, 9/11 popped some sort of bubble of “safety” I guess that I was in. It’s hard to describe what that means but I can say I never get on a plane any more without looking at everyone suspiciously. 9/11 also changed my television and movie habits. I stopped going to violent action movies. I stopped watching crime TV shows. Seeing what I saw on that day made me want to look only for the positives and made me want to be as far from the negatives as possible.
It’s odd that my kids see 9/11 as history in the same manner that I saw Pearl Harbor and the assassination of JFK as history. Studying about something like that is not the same thing as living through it and one day my kids will have to live through such an event first hand. Thanks to our government, President Bush and now President Obama, and all of the many armed forces and police and TSA employees and countless others, they have not had to just yet. I can only hope that we will be able to get to the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and say the same thing.