I woke up early on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. No idea why, but I was up before 8AM. Since I work independently and I was working on my first book at the time I came to the computer and started writing.
Around 8:55 or so my mother called. That was strange as well, so I picked the phone in greeting and asked her what was wrong. She told me to turn on the TV to NBC News, which was the only channel she watched at the time. I did so and I saw a mass of confusion. Then I heard that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. It was shocking but not all that troubling at the moment. Planes had hit the tower before and fallen, but this time it was a passenger plane.
Then I saw the image of a plane hitting the Tower and I said to Mom “They’re showing a replay of the plane hitting the building.” She said “That’s not a replay; that’s another plane.” That was at 9:03AM.
It was at that moment that I realized it was live, and what I was witnessing was something different. I immediately knew this couldn’t be an accident, and it couldn’t be a coincidence. However, the word “terrorism” never struck my mind; at least not then.
That basically started over 60 straight hours of TV watching, only stopping to go to the bathroom or grab something to eat quickly. I didn’t go to bed, didn’t go to sleep. I kept switching channels; whenever one channel went to a commercial I went to another channel. Whenever the news started sounding the same, I went looking for something new.
The strange thing is that I still remember a lot of that stuff very well. I also think it’s strange that, until a couple of days ago, I’d never seen any footage of the people who jumped from the buildings when the heat and fire got so severe that people had to decide which way they wanted to die; that’s really scary.
Here’s the thing. We’re 14 years removed from that event and it’s hard to say that the world has gotten to be a better place because of it. From that date forward, Americans have lost a lot of liberties, while our government has taken a lot of liberties here and abroad. Terrorism seems to be stronger and sneakier than it was before.
In the past few months we’ve had suicide attacks on law enforcement, military officers, and even civilians by nutcases across the country who seem to think that supporting an offshoot gutless group of sadists who aren’t doing anything except making the world a tougher place for those they consider as “lesser Muslims”, nonbelievers of the same religion, to live in peace, following a religion that they see as peaceful. That the tales of what these degenerates are doing to not only women (which is an abomination) but to a lot of the young men fooled into leaving the country and joining their ranks doesn’t turn these kids off scares me.
I’ve never understood the language of hate. I’ve never understood how the language of hate seems to be able to overcome the language of peace and cooperation, the language of motivation and positivity, the language of the common man and woman who go about their day thinking that life is at least okay, that they have friends to talk to and entertainment to enjoy and great food to eat and nice cars to drive… and yet need to worry about being in the wrong place at the wrong time because one day someone decides they’re ready to die for a cause that’s false, no matter what it is.
I’ve never been the most trusting person. Even in my own home, when I’m alone I usually keep the curtains and blinds closed, barely opening them up to let a little bit of light in. It’s not that I live in fear; I live in caution. I’m not going to let the fear of terror, homegrown or not, keep me in the house.
However, I now always look at people when I’m in unfamiliar territory. I look at people who appear different. It’s not about race for me, and it’s not about sex. It’s about behavior. I still treat everyone fairly; but fairly these days comes with a bit more scrutiny.
That’s what 9/11/01 did to me. That’s why I always remember the day so well, beyond the fact of living in New York state, having been to the Twin Towers multiple times and feeling a bit of a connection.
If you’re interested, I wrote about 9/11/01 on my other blog today; that post went live at 8:46, the time the first plane hit. Today is #NeverForget911 on Twitter; for me, every day is #NeverForget911. And for some reason, I need a bit more of this…