Saturday, September 16, 2006

A week beyond September 11 

I knew September 11 was going to be kind of overwhelming with it being the 5th anniversary. I avoided all TV shows having to do with any of it. I peeked at CNN.com occasionally, but only to scan headlines. I did not understand why a person would want to relive that day in "real time," however if you were that person, CNN replayed the whole day on the internet. A friend and I looked at it for a few minutes but soon turned it off. I remember what happened all too well.

I was driving to work listening to the radio. The DJ was known to be a prankster, so when he paused and said that a plane just hit a World Trade Center Tower, I thought he was joking. However that only lasted a moment as you heard the combination of horror and amazement in his voice as he was obviously watching the news on TV and then remembered he was on live radio.

I got to work and amazingly enough, not that many people had heard yet. I rushed to boot up my computer and go to CNN.com and there it was - the awful truth. I heard other people turning up their radios and gasps of horror as they heard what was happening - then the 2nd tower was hit. I burst into tears.

I called my Dad and Step Mom. I called my sister. I called my roommate. I had an overwhelming urge to connect with my nearest and dearest.

There were TV's in the gym downstairs in our building, so a group of us went down there to convince ourselves that what we were hearing was actually true. Many of us with tears streaming down our faces and mouths ajar as we stared at the plumes of smoke coming from the WTC towers.

The Pentagon was hit. There were other planes hi-jacked and in the air. I remember thinking - This is it - the world is ending today.

We finally got sent home from work - we were all too freaked out to work anyway. When I got home, my roommate and I sat in silence watching the coverage.

The days and weeks afterward were horrifying in their own way with the revelation of just how horrible it had all been and how many lives were lost. However, someone bought some small American flags and handed them out and our "Cube Farm" became a sea of red, white and blue. We took up money to send to the Red Cross. We all treated each other like someone who had lost a loved one. Although most people in our office didn't know anyone that perished, having lived through that day and the impact of what happened was very similar to a death in the family.

The next year as September 11th approached, I wanted to help facilitate a meaningful remembrance of the day with the help of my co-workers. On September 4, my Dad passed away unexpectedly. After my allotted bereavement time, I returned to work and focused on the September 11th activities and they all went off without a hitch. There are pictures of me during that time and I look like a deer caught in the headlights, however I remember being appreciative to have something meaningful to distract me from the death of my Dad.

I've looked back over what I have written so far and notice that I used the word "horror" a lot. My "Inner Editor" tells me that I need to break out the Thesaurus, however I think that the word "horror" is the only way to put what we all went through that day.

I know people older than me say they will never forget certain things that happened in history, like JFK's assassination. September 11th is my equivalent. Although they are very different, I'm struck by the similarity of how helpless and horrified a nation felt as it watched what they thought was unthinkable actually become a reality.

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