|My 9/11 Memory|
At about 7am on the morning of September 11th, 2001 I was busy trying to get my kids ready for their day. Most mornings back then, it involved yelling down the hallway at one of them to eat their breakfast while changing the diaper of the other and frantically pushing arms into sleeves and stuff. Typically, FoxNews was on in the background, and my eyes would be continually searching for a clock that would tell me that I wasn't going to be late if I could just get out in three minutes.
This morning was different.
If my memory is right, one side of the diaper was strapped on when I heard the FoxNews Alert music and glanced up. It turns out, just in time to see a plane slam into the second tower. I remember being shocked--stunned, really, before it occurred to me that of course it wasn't an accident. It was an act of war.
I remember calling my wife from the car on the way to my destinations, telling her "we're at war--turn on the TV." At that point, she was in the office already, and knew nothing about what was going on.
I remember listening to the radio, craving news, and getting little in the way of good information, even from Hugh Hewitt. I suppose it was less that HH wasn't getting good info out as that NOBODY was getting good information.
I remember arriving at my brother-in-law's house to drop off my oldest, because our kids went to school together and he was nice enough to watch mine in the morning. He knew about the attacks and was pressing me for information, of which I had precious little. See, I'm a bit of the geek in the family, the only one that follows world events obsessively, so I think he thought I had answers. Of course, I didn't. Nobody did. All the information I had was that the Trade Centers had 50,000 workers in the building at peak time. 50,000.
I seem to remember it was a beautiful morning, one of those "only in Colorado" mornings where the sun was up and warm but the air still carried a chill as of a mountain shadow. And the blue of the Colorado sky in the autumn is unique to my experience and in a wonderful way--a roommate once describe it as "Salvador Dali" blue.
I remember being a little ticked off when i got in the car because in the time it took me to drop off my kids KNUS had dropped the national feed from Hugh Hewitt and was covering the attacks live from the KNUS studios. As if they could get any better information.
And then I got school and was stunned--STUNNED--and outraged to find that the order for the day was "proceed as normal." I realize that I'm dealing with an elementary school, and there's no way those kids can quite understand what was going on, but it was beyond comprehension that we would act as if nothing was going on.
I was still teaching when the Towers fell. It wasn't until lunchtime that I was able to get the update on the status of the Towers, as well as the Pentagon and Flight 93. The news that the towers fell was so horrific as to be unimaginable.
And through it all was the clear conviction that we were at war, and that the "sleeping dragon" Yamamoto feared would rouse itself again. My first thought was that there would soon be a really large black piece of glass on all the new maps, atlases and globes. It was clear to me that the world had learned to count on American "moderation" and accomodation, and that that had cost us.
I penned a piece in the aftermath about what I call "Civis Americanus." The basic gist is that America must adopt a philosophy of DISproportionate response to attacks on American citizens anywhere in the world; that only when the world learns to fear the reprisal for messing with an American--ANY American--anywhere in the world will Americans be safe.
I remember being ashamed that it took me until late in the afternoon to think to hang out the American flag. I hasn't been down since.
And then the horror of the numbers started trickling out: nearly 3000 dead on American soil in one day.
Other images remain: the President at Ground Zero; the Congress and "God Bless America"; and a few days home with my family to try to digest it all. In a wierd way, I thought it might work out for the better: the unity, the singleminded belief in the rightness and fundamental goodness of America seemed to be genuine and capable of lasting [Guess I was wrong about that]
In the aftermath I started blogging, as much for the historical record for my kids as for the desire to spew my opinions. My resolve was to get involved and to not remain on the sidelines any more. And so here I am now.
My world changed after 9/11, though its hard to tell from my day-to-day activities. Unfortunately, the unity I observed after 9/11 has disappeared. Each side blames the other for that splintering, but I don't really care.
But what scares me most is that it seems a LARGE part of the country has forgotten that we are at war. 9/11 should serve as a reminder that our enemy is bold, determined and murderous. And August should remind us that they're still out there, and they're coming for us.
I hope the aftermath of this anniversary is a wake-up call to stop dithering about the tools this President wants to fight with, and to get serious about killing the enemy.
But I doubt it. Its election season.
I don't remember any election ever leaving the pit in my stomach that 9/11 did. Let's keep our eyes on the ball, okay, folks?