I remember waking up on the morning of September 11, 2001. The clock-radio sounded different than normal. I usually have it tuned to KRED because that motivates me to move over and turn that country music off, but this morning was different. After a couple of minutes I turned on the TV and realized how different.
I had heard of the World Trade Center but really had no deep feelings about it. After all, there’s a World Trade Center in Long Beach and at that time I had never been to NYC so the “twin towers” had no significance to me as buildings. But every minute it was becoming clearer that many lives had been lost. I went in to work at the small State agency where I worked then, since no one told us not to. We gathered in a somber mood and waited by the faxes and printers to see what the plan was. On the one hand, it was customary to close the office if a threat was in effect. On the other hand, we had demanding clients who would take umbrage at having their appointments canceled. The brilliant solution conveyed to us from our district HQ was to close the office, but leave ONE person there to take phone calls. In other words, there was enough danger to send everyone home but not enough danger to get everyone out. Made no sense but we followed orders.
I don’t remember the rest of the day very well. I spent the afternoon calling people. We didn’t know yet about RIchard Guadagno and his tragic death. As the evening came on we watched TV, numb. Something had changed, but it was hard to define. In the weeks and months that followed, the words “Muslim” and “Arab” became charged. On the one hand, there was a real threat , on the other hand you couldn’t lump them all together as terrorists. It was clear that Fortress America was not invulnerable. However it never had been, and learning that fact was probably healthy for all of us.
So what’s changed in twelve years? We have a different President. OBL is dead and politics in Washington has become a blood sport in which the combatants don’t give a damn about the people and their welfare. The Republican party seems to be committing slow suicide, which is sad because I prefer a two-party system. Mostly the changes are demographic. California is no longer an Anglo-majority state, which is fine with me. The fear and unease that go with the awareness that there is no place on the planet that is totally safe is becoming part of our consciousness. I don’t see that changing in my lifetime.
Last year, I finally visited NYC. We did NOT go to the WTC site. I didn’t see the point.
Did 9/11 change you or the way you live? Tell us about it, and hug your kids today.