I broke my stated promise to engage in a media blackout today.
I turned on the TV this morning to make sure there was no HFS redux.
This evening, I watched NBC at 8pm, which featured Tom Brokaw interviewing a group of air traffic controllers that watched the four flights to their fateful end, helpless, unable to do anything about those flights. But they did manage to keep the planes in the air safe, and bring them down when the entirety of US airspace was ordered cleared. Kudos.
Bush’s address at 9pm from Ellis Island was appropriate, respectful and inspiring.
CBS aired a documentary produced by two French filmmakers, brothers who were originally doing a film on a rookie in the FDNY and his initiation into the fold. By pure happenstance, they had their cameras rolling throughout the madness that morning. One was present in the lobby of Tower One, filming the rescue effort and later escape from the remaining tower, surely doomed; the other circled helplessly between the firehouse and the Trade Center, filming the masses transfixed by the burning towers, then the panicked flight north as 2 WTC went down, and finally his own experience, trapped too close to the site as 1 WTC fell.
The shock and denial from that day came flooding back. The guilt, for not being able to help even in miniscule amounts. I, a radio amateur with a commitment to help in emergencies, was improperly equipped.
So why did I turn on the television?
I’ll let you figure that out, because I don’t know the answer.
In the end, there is nothing to say. Take a cue from Rudy and Mike. No speeches and no grandstanding. I thought maybe I would have something of substance. In the end, there is nothing to say.
One year later, we have seen things that, in the end, I think only serve to give us false senses of security against a bodiless threat. Where once we stood united, in the end we are divided. Recompense for families affected has been wraught with obstacles and controversy. Consensus on a fitting memorial is proving difficult to reach.
There are questions that are logical to ask, one year later.
For ourselves: Are we doing what we can to better ourselves? Each one of us has a take-home lesson from that day. Have we taken it to heart?
As Americans: Is our country being prudent in its actions? What can we do to be a part of the decisionmaking process?
As for me, it’s been hard these last few days as I try to assess its impact on me, tempered by the knowledge that there are those that experienced much worse and by trying to make sure that I don’t blow things out of proportion nor take things too lightly.
For my part, I’ll be observing quiet moments of reflection at 8:45, 9:03, 10:05, and 10:28.
I remember talking to my friends later that week. Maybe the one thing that surprised all of us was all the calls, checking up on us, wondering if we were okay.
School is nowhere near the Towers. We were somewhat confounded by the frantic calls hoping we were okay.
If I told you that it was 1.5 miles to the towers, you might think that that’s pretty close. Well, no. The Financial District was worlds away from the East Village. It’s at least several subway stops. Maybe a thirty-minute walk. You had to cross through Soho. Chinatown/Little Italy. TriBeCa. Then you were in the Financial District. Worlds apart.
But on that day, no matter where in the five boroughs you lived, to a non-New Yorker you were potentially near the Towers. The towers’ footprint grew to encompass the entirety of New York City. The city shrank to those few city blocks bordered by Trinity, Vesey, West, and Liberty.
I’m still not sure if I can answer the question, “Are you okay?”
I caught a few bits of last weekend’s edition of CBS Sunday Morning, which was centered around September 11. In one clip, a man likened the attacks and its aftermath to a funeral: many people gather to mourn the passing of a loved one. These are people that don’t normally get together, and may not have seen each other in a long time. After the funeral, they vow to get together sometime soon; only, it never happens. They part, go their separate ways, until the death of another mutual friend.
I’m sure I don’t need to explain how apt that is.