Friday, September 10, 2004
It Was a Tuesday Morning in September
In the early (and I mean early) morning hours of September 11, 2001, I was trying to fulfill a New Year’s Resolution. Living in Los Angeles at the time, I was on a Nordic Trak at 0545. I was, as was my morning custom, listening to an early morning news talk show hosted by Hugh Hewitt. Nominally conscious even though my heart was racing, it took me a few minutes to filter out the phrase, “a great tragedy has happened in New York City.”
Leaving my Nordic Trak, I stumbled into the living room and turned on MSNBC. The screen slowly materialized, I watched in stunned disbelief as the second jet slammed into WTC Tower 1. My wife, awakened by my exclamation, joined me in the living room and we watched NBC’s Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski as his entire office shook with the impact of yet a third airliner. We watched together as Tower 1 collapsed upon lower Manhattan. Somehow in the midst of all of this, I left for my office located just a few miles from LAX.
I was in a donut shop (so much for the Nordic Trak) when Tower 2 fell. Arriving at my office, I called my father and left him a short message – “Someone has been reading their Clancy.” I filtered through what news I could get access to. Planes were still in the air. A plane had crashed in Pennsylvania. Hijacked planes were headed west. Air Force One was a target. I sat in my office exchanging emails with the oldest friend I have in this world (oldest as in time known, not chronological age lest she smite me in a blog) and wondered when the other shoe would drop.
Part of me is still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
LA is a geographic continent and a cultural world away from New York and DC. Angelinos are used to having their world turned upside down by Mother Nature’s quake faults on a semi-regular basis. That said, even earthquake hardened Angelinos were shocked at the rubble. For weeks after the event, KFI radio put a haunting phrase at the top of each hour’s broadcast:
It could have just as easily happened here.
To the best of my knowledge, I did not know anyone (personally) who perished in the early morning hours of September 11, 2001. Even so, did the terrorists change my life? Yes they did. You see, my son – then just four years old – was full of questions when I came home later that afternoon.
“Daddy, did you see the buildings fall?”
“Yes, son, I did.”
“Why did they fall? Those buildings were big!!!”
“Yes, they were.”
“Well, son, you see some bad men crashed planes into them, and the buildings burned and fell.”
Then with a quivering lip and concerned eyes that only a four-year-old can produce, “Daddy, are there bad men on your planes?”
Four-year-old boys shouldn’t have to deal with that kind of thought process. That, gentle reader, is why Osama ‘Binny’ Laden can take the following words, uttered first by FDNY Firefighter Mike Moran at Madison Square Gardens, to heart:
“Osama bin Laden, you can kiss my royal Irish ass!!”
Here endeth the lesson.