In Which I Remember 9/11.

9/11: My alarm clock was set to radio and the annoying happy DJ (purposely set because he was annoying enough each morning to make me want to get up out of bed and turn him off) was unusually somber, and then he said one of the towers had been hit. We turned on the Today show and watched for a while.

I work at a newspaper, and it’s always a rush when something big happens.

Several years back, a guy stabbed a city bus driver while going over one of the highest bridges in town, and the driver died and the bus crashed off the bridge and down onto the roof of an apartment building. I was there during the WTO riots in 1999. (It’s not every day when an email goes out to staff to “please return your gas masks . . .”)

On occasions like these, the activity in the newsroom looks like chaos, but it’s more like the chaos of an anthill — everybody’s got a specific job and if you watch closely, there’s an orchestrated plan at work. It’s really a beautiful, impressive thing. And it’s just like you see on tv or in the movies — people yelling, phones ringing, people running in and out, paper flying.

I went in to work early and even though it was mid-morning (ours is a morning paper and most people work afternoon/evening), the newsroom was full. And almost completely silent. People had heard the initial reports and just come in to work. We put out an Extra edition (as in “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”) and it was the first time we had done so since the end of WWII. I remember watching the photos coming in over the wire — much of it too graphic for us to print: bodies falling, people jumping, etc. — and just being in shock that it had happened. Our News Editor was in New York when the towers were hit, and she couldn’t get a flight back, so she drove, and wrote reports for our website as she traveled. I’m pretty sure that was the first thing we did that looked like blogging.

The next few days are a blur for me, I remember being amazed at the outpouring of sympathy from around the world (“We are all Americans.”)

[Political sidenote: That’s one of the things that angers me most about the Bush administration — how that spirit of support and unity, unprecedented in my memory, was squandered. But that’s a topic worthy of a whole bunch of other blog posts. Just this: How many of those nations would say that today?]

It really took me a few years before I would get out of bed without turning on the TV first to see if something big was happening. Tivo made it easy to record the first hour of the Today show so that when I woke up I could at least play the first minute rather than flipping around to make sure there wasn’t something on the news channels that I was missing. I still do it to some extent, but it’s more habit now than paranoia.

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3 Comments

Filed under politics

3 responses to “In Which I Remember 9/11.

  1. Matty

    Alright, I’ll bite. 🙂

    [Political sidenote: That’s one of the things that angers me most about the Bush administration — how that spirit of support and unity, unprecedented in my memory, was squandered. But that’s a topic worthy of a whole bunch of other blog posts. Just this: How many of those nations would say that today?]

    I know you. I know it’s not even a stretch to say that you have a sincere appreciation for the complexity (beyond words) to describe how it would feel to be President of the United States on 9/11/01. And if you are upset about “squandered unity”, I’ll be someday anxious to hear the foundation of this broad brushed statement.

    But how about the fact that no major attacks have occurred since 9/11? Is that not the bottom line?
    Pointing a finger blaming Bush for squandering away unity, when Bush is the one who has kept us safe for the last seven years either:

    1) Makes you appear to demand perfection in an indescribably complex situation.

    2) Makes you sound like a typical left leaning journalist (which you obviously are not).

    Anyone failing to recognize this, to me, is helping to widen the unity gap you are referring to. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, of course. I just think your statement would carry more weight if you took the time to mention the good with the bad is all. But like you said, another time/place. I’m sure you have some valid points to offer.

    I’m no Bush disciple. However with respect to 9/11, I’m grateful that it came on his watch. I honestly believe there is no coincidence in that we have not had an attack since.

    In Bush’s defense, he is damned if he does and he is damned if he doesn’t. And that goes for any subject nowadays. He can do no right (especially through the eyes of your newspaper), even though he has done some.

    But to use 9/11 as an example: No attacks in the last seven years? The response is usually, “Well, terrorism must not be as serious a threat as many perceive it to be today….” “And those that emphasize the threat of terrorism are resorting to scare tactics…” Then god forbid another major attack occurs, the rhetoric would surely follow that Bush “didn’t do enough to protect us.” He’s screwed either way.

    There are plenty of issues on which I do not see eye to eye with our President. But with respect to this issue, I think he’s done pretty well. Our safety is first and foremost, and I sure do not take it for granted.

    If you had told me (and I assume many) shortly after 9/11 that we would have seven years + without another successful attack, with consequences amounting to what you refer to as “squandering unity”? Dare I say most would take it in a second.

    But…. like you said, another time, another place. Forgive the length, it’s just a touchy subject with me is all. Please give my love to the flamy, and thanks for taking me away from work for a few minutes. It was a rough market today. 🙂

  2. Dear Matty,

    I know you are, but what am I?

    Love,

    paul.

    Seriously, thanks for the comments. Reasoned, articulate difference of opinion is too rare these days.

    I’ll elaborate my thoughts on the matter when I have more time to do so; feel free to comment as long as you want. Unlike our paper, the space here is unlimited and free.

  3. Matty

    “Reasoned, articulate difference of opinion is too rare these days”

    Ha. Well I’m used to it, living in Bellingham and all. Maybe take off the “reasoned and articulate” part. 🙂 I swim in a city full of “opened minded” people who are in reality some of the most closed minded folks you will ever come across. They are the enlightened ones, and if you don’t think exactly like they do, you’re simply an idiot. My favorite bumper sticker in town has on one side: “Celebrate Diversity”, and on the other: “Friends don’t let friends vote Republican.”

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