Can it really have been 15 years since 9-11? Obviously so, because my tiny preemie nephew, born six weeks earlier, is now a towering teen. My dad, so saddened by the events, died less than two months afterward.
Everyone, or at least everyone here in the States, has their own 9-11 story. Mine is kind of…odd, I guess. I was living in New Orleans and already at work when a coworker stuck her head in my office door and asked if I’d heard that a plane hit one of the Twin Towers. I hadn’t, but we had a little TV in the office and quickly turned it on “Today” just as the second plane hit. I remember my thoughts shifting quickly from “what a horrible accident” to “that was no accident.” With in 15 minutes, I had been called to the Tulane president’s office, where I spent the rest of the day working with him and his staff to craft a message to our students, as Tulane has a very large student population from New York and D.C. (I did most of his speechwriting.) There were TVs on everywhere but not where I could see them, so I didn’t see any of the footage until the next day…when I again got called on to help write a speech for the president to give to the student body that afternoon.
So I guess in some ways, I missed it–at least in terms of the shared horror of TV footage. I ended up seeing very little. But one of my dearest friends lives and works in NYC, so I worried about her. She wasn’t hurt physically,, but the psychological hurt was deep and is still there. Our lives all changed, of course, even those of us far away from the destruction and the deaths. My brother was forced to take early retirement after a long career at Delta; the airlines were struggling to survive in a population afraid to fly. He was at an age near enough retirement that it was difficult for him to find another job. But he survived; everyone adapted.
Long lines and enhanced security became the norm. Now, I look at the world around us and realize how naive we were. Naive and, yeah, probably arrogant. Other than Pearl Harbor, Americans had never been attacked on our own soil. I think it made us complacent, gave us a sense of invulnerability. That’s gone now, and 9-11 was the first big crack in that veneer.
So that’s my 9-11 story, such as it is. What’s yours?
Stay tuned tomorrow, when we’ll have a two-week Reader’s Choice extravaganza and announce our latest round of winners!