I posted this back on September 13, 2001, actually my first post on this weblog. In the eight long years since, a lot has changed — not all for the better, you could probably argue, and least of all some of the links below — but I do think it’s still worth remembering how it felt on that September morning and in the immediate wake of the September 11 attacks, those deaths. I wasn’t living in New York at the time — actually in Pennsylvania, not close but closer to where Flight 93 went down — but I have close family who was, and who were in the city at the time the World Trade Center buildings collapsed. I was lucky not to lose anyone that day, and the shock of it has faded, as it needed to, in the years since. In some ways, I’m glad that today is just another Friday. But, in some others, I think it’s worth remembering.
I still don’t want to write about this. I wasn’t there, and everything I want to say sounds painfully obvious and clichÃ©. When I let myself think about it two nights ago, or yesterday morning, I just wanted to start crying or break something. Even now it’s incomprehensible. This is what I had once been planning to post. But for this…I just don’t have the words. So here’s what some other people have been saying.
Leslie Harpold (The Hoopla500): There’s a layer of dirt covering lower Manhattan. You’d think it’d be lumpy, or at least coarse, but no, it’s softer than sand. There are still four people in my life who work in the WTC that are unaccounted for. When are we supposed to decide to say goodbye, or should I keep expecting miracles? I would feel a lot better if someone would put me to work. I filled out the Red Cross volunteer forms with my whole skills inventory, and I’d be willing to do about anything that didn’t involve dead bodies. They’ve turned the Chelsea Ice rink complex into a makeshift morgue. Can you imagine? I really hope you can’t.
Paul Ford (Ftrain): They are turning away volunteers, turning away blood donors, because there are so many. I knew that would happen. That is why I want to live there, why I love it, why I have been pining for New York City and why I pine for it even as it is coated in ash, with papers swirling in the air. Not the buildings but the people, the bodies, the voices.
Sharon J. Cichelli (Phlebotomy): I’m thinking back to events on Monday evening and how easily we laughed. The memory seems strange, like, surely we weren’t laughing so easily, in light of what’s happened. But, of course, it hadn’t happened yet. My current feelings are casting a pall over the memories.
Robert Rummel-Hudson (Darn Tootin’): A lot of people, a staggering number of them, didn’t hug their kids tonight. They didn’t drive home from work and maybe give someone the finger for cutting them off, or stop at some little grubby store to buy beer or flowers to surprise someone waiting at home. They didn’t make passionate love to their lovers after the sun went down, the cool late summer breeze blowing through their bedroom windows. They are lying in rubble, or in pieces in what remains of a fuselage. Their unblinking eyes are filled with questions. And I can’t answer them. My anger and my fear and my sorrow aren’t enough.
Michael Moore (MichaelMoore.com): Will we ever get to the point that we realize we will be more secure when the rest of the world isn’t living in poverty so we can have nice running shoes? Let’s mourn, let’s grieve, and when it’s appropriate let’s examine our contribution to the unsafe world we live in. It doesn’t have to be like this…
Meg Hourihan (Megnut): 24 hours later, I’m heading back into the kitchen to finish up the dishes, to pick up the spatula that still sits in the sink where I dropped it. I’m going to wash my coffee press and brew that cup of coffee I never had yesterday. I’m going to try and find some semblance of normalcy in this very changed world.
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times): My story is like so many stories. Thousands of innocent victims are dead, but we think first about those we love. What is new and frightening is that on Tuesday when the tragedy happened, we were all forced to think in these personal terms. The war was here.
My father (via e-mail): Our building is on the block from 14th. to 15th. Street. 14th. Street is quite a bit north of the WTC. Nonetheless the City has set it up as the line of demarcation for what is certainly a battle zone. The subways are running — but 14th. Street is the last stop in Manhattan on the downtown trip to Brooklyn. The power is mostly out in the lower Manhattan financial district. There was a Marriot Hotel still burning when I cam in this morning — but the smoke seems to be mostly white (steam from water) now and less black. Sirens abound. There are virtually no other cars — but the LIRR worked fine this morning. Every once in awhile a military jet roars overhead. It’s hard to imagine how it will ever get back to anything like normal — but I guess it will in time.