We spent last week, and much of the weekend, watching many of the programs dedicated to the memory of 9/11.
I spent a lot of time in tears, and despite that sadness, the explanation I have for that choice is simple. I feel, as a citizen of this country, that it is my duty to know as much as possible about what happened that day, and to never forget it.
Because here, in flyover country, that day was as blue as the skies in Manhattan.
And as I drove to work, listening to the DJs in confusion and not having anything visual to go on, I just kept yelling, “WHAT IS GOING ON?” which probably sums up how most of America felt that day.
When the first tower fell, I was sitting in our conference room. My mind went blank and all I could think was, “All those people.” I started to cry. Nobody else was crying. I still don’t understand that, everyone around me was silent and stoney-faced. Maybe it was the horror, the shock, just being in the workplace – but none of it was a barrier for me. I went to my office, shut the door, tried to call my friend still living in Manhattan. All the lines were down. (He was fine, I found out later.)
So I called my father. The man who always had an idea, a solution, greater knowledge of the world and what to do. This would be the only time in my life with him that he didn’t have an answer. “Why is this happening? What is going on?” I could see him shaking his head as he told me he just didn’t know, that it was terrible and awful. Things we both knew, small words that couldn’t capture the enormity of it all.
I left work, listening now to reports that our president was flying all over the country, and I was angry. One of the shows we watched last week was on NatGeo, and it was an hour, interviewing George W. about that day, and despite my feelings about his politics in general, it was an excellent show. It really explained the chronology of events, how information was being gathered, how that day unfolded, how even our government was in shock, reacting, doing everything possible to keep our president out of harm’s way, while trying to prevent more of the same from happening.
Later that afternoon, I called James. We had been dating for two years. He still lived in Clinton. He described walking out onto the playground and looking up at the sky, seeing all the hairpin vapour trails from the planes that had left MCI, and then turned back around, grounded. Hearing the fighter jets take their place, departing out of Whiteman AFB.
For the rest of the night, I watched the news, horrified but unable to turn away. Also, unable to knit, I could only wind yarn. I still haven’t worked on that project, but for the first time, I think I can again.