jack!

An awkward remembrance

I don't really know what to do with 9/11, seventeen years on. It has to function like any other day, because life goes on and you can't dwell on an injury forever--and I had no personal loss. One of my mom's cousins was providentially working out of the office that day, and there's the extent of my connection with that great loss of life.

I do still remember where I was when I found out a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers--I was in the basement doing algebra problems. This may have been how we even found out what was going on--since the algebra program I was using was on VHS tapes, I may have caught a glimpse of the news coverage after ejecting the tape and before turning the TV off. Or perhaps someone phoned my mom to say she needed to look at the news and she called down the stars to ask me to check. Either way, there's a vague memory of shouting reports up the stairs to her. There's a much more sharp-edged memory of the moment when the second plane hit and everyone realized the first impact wasn't just a horrible accident. And then the desperate waiting and praying that there wouldn't be any more attacks. Waiting to hear that the president was safe and things were under some kind of control again. (There's a fascinating oral history of what this time looked like from inside Air Force One.)

But you can watch the news for only so long, especially when you're not hoping to hear a particular name or see a face, and life rapidly slid back into something close to normalcy. At 16, I knew I should probably be playing closer attention, carrying a larger weight of some kind, but there was algebra and chemistry and all the other things that demand time and attention, and after not all that long it was swept into the mental category of "very bad things that have happened in the past and we should try but will probably fail to guard against". My cousin was finishing up his tour of duty as doctor on a Marine transport ship, and we were all relieved when he returned to shore without any real incident, and then the whole thing ceased affecting me personally.

This isn't the case for an awful lot of people, though--all those who lost someone, or perhaps multiple people: family, friends, coworkers, brothers in arms. I pray for those still hurting, that they may yet find comfort. And I pray for those seeking to prevent another such attack, that they might be diligent and wise.

And so the world spins on for another year....
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No, but I feel like people don't quite know what they should do, since it's not set aside as an official day of remembrance.
I was working in Manhattan that year. There was some concern at the time that either the UN or the Trump Tower would be a target as well: the UN for obvious symbolic reasons and the Trump Tower simply because it was the tallest thing around in the neighbourhood. My colleague lived in the Trump Tower and his poor wife was evacuated to the roadside in her nightgown with her month-old baby until the office organised a car to pick her up. I was very impressed by how the New Yorkers dealt with the situation; how sensible and co-operative and kind to each other they were, and how well Rudy Giuliani handled the evacuation from lower Manhattan to uptown (basically by telling everyone to stay calm and just walk out, which they did). The ferry companies started running evacuation ferries between Manhattan on their own, almost at once. And in the subsequent months New Yorkers were pretty much the calmest, most together people in the country. Respect.
As horrifying as the whole situation was, it was also kind of encouraging to see everyone pull together and work to cope with the wreckage left behind. A demonstration that the strength hasn't gone out of us yet.
Sorry, that should have been "between Manhattan and Staten Island".