Sunday, September 10, 2006

Yes, Remember, But...

...stop hitting me over the head with it, willya?

I was on information overload the day it happened. Since that day, five years ago, not a day goes by but someone in the media just has to mention it.

Every year since, on the eleventh of September, it's been like some weirdly twisted birthday celebration, with parades and music and people all dressed up and making speeches. The entire world has a sick and morbid fascination for it.

Garth wants to know: Where were you? I'm more used to turning my thoughts automatically to the assasination of JFK when I hear the words, "Where were you? (I absolutely will never forget that day!)" But okay, here goes...

I was asleep. Nicely, warmly, cozily asleep. Then I was being rudely and loudly bounced out of sleep by a frantic Denizen yelling something incoherent about the United States being attacked by planes. I don't wake quickly, and my brain started processing some strange kind of "War of the Worlds" scenario. In short, I didn't believe the Denizen and tried to go back to sleep.

Until someone turned up the radio full blast, and I recognized the harried, hoarse, measured voice of a local broadcaster who was out of his time slot. His time slot was early evening (well, at the time it was -- it has changed since then). What was he doing on the air first thing in the morning? He only does that when there's an international incident of some kind, like when Princess Diana was killed...

...or a bunch of terrorists fly planes into the World Trade Center.

I found myself standing beside the bed, frozen in place, listening to the radio. I don't remember actually getting out of bed.

I found myself at work, and I don't remember getting there. I do remember knots of people all gathered around all the big-screen televisions that were scattered around the place. And I remember rushing past them so I didn't have to watch. The mind-movies in my head were bad enough. I didn't want to watch.

I think I sleep-walked through that day and a whole bunch more of them immediately afterwards. I remember very little except thinking that we were now at war, and that I should probably be doing something to prepare to go and fight...somebody...

I never even considered that I'd be thought to be too old for combat.

To this day, I still have not seen the towers getting hit by the planes. And I have no desire to change the status of my visual ignorance.


Blogger Dez said...

I remember...

I was on a bus. My favorite red-headed driver was taking us across the floating bridge from Seattle to Bellevue. It was early in the morning, and the sun was turning the clouds ahead of us red and gold along the jagged horizon of the Cascade mountains.

We were just half-way across Lake Washington when she picked up the microphone and spoke in a fractured voice: "We've been attacked! They blew up the World Trade Center in New York!"

We rushed into our buildings, ran to our desks and logged into the internet. All the news sites were overloaded, but I managed to find one with a live video feed. The bandwidth was narrow, and the feed was lagging badly, but everyone in my office watched the buildings fall. It was nearly lunch before anyone tried to get any real work done.

Like most disasters, the actual event happened very quickly and was over in a heartbeat. It took much longer for the news to explain what had happened, and longer still for the searching rescue workers to locate the survivors.

But I remember one thing in particular. I was working in the telecommunications field at the time, for a large cell phone company, and we all took a bit of pride in the way that cell phones got the word out, and how the cell traffic was handled in New York in order to keep the information flowing. Later, we found out about flight 93, we again found ourselves proud of the role played by the cell phones on the plane. It didn't matter what brand made the phones, or what company provided their service. We were proud of the technology, and that we were contributing, in a small way, to the development of that technology.

There you go. 911 from the geeks' perspective.

Monday, September 11, 2006 1:09:00 AM  
Anonymous JeanC said...

I work 9am-6pm, so I was still in bed slowly wkaing up when the clock radio clicked on and the DJ was saying a plane hit Tower 1. Next thing I remember was being halfway down the hallway heading for the TV.

Campus was very eerie that day, all the Middle Eastern students had gone into hiding when the ethnicities of the terrorists were announced. Even tho Moscow is a fairly leberal town, we still have our share of ignorant rednecks who would do something stupid. Everyone was in shock and went thru the motions of working.

Monday, September 11, 2006 9:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Janet said...

This kind of horror has always seemed to be something very far away from us. We listen to the war veterans talk about WWI and WWII and think we know exactly how they must have felt. We see atrocities committed by corrupt governments on innocent civilians and think how life is so much different "over there."

September 11, 2001 changed all that. For the first time we realized that horror wasn't something that happened long ago or great distances away. Horror could happen to us at any time, and it did. The images from that day will be forever ingrained into our minds and we pull those memories out in a feeble effort to understand the "why" behind the horror.

Those images are just as painful to watch today as they were 5 years ago, but failing to remember those who perished on that day would be even worse.

Monday, September 11, 2006 8:40:00 PM  

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