Saturday, September 11, 2004


Three years ago today, our nation was attacked in brutal fashion.

I still remember vividly how my day unfolded. It started with my typical tardy self, trying to get my butt out of bed to make it to the office at a reasonable hour. For some strange reason, I went against my usual routine and didn't bother to turn on NPR that morning. Had I done so, I probably would have heard news just a bit earlier.

I went downstairs and saw the people at the front desk watching some morning show. I asked what was going on -- after all, I had yet to hear -- and was just told "They're showing the Pentagon now. They're gonna switch back to New York soon." I didn't know what that meant. I just thought it was a typical Today show thing. I didn't realize that we were under attack.

I began to walk to work, where I saw some police officers standing by their car. There was smoke in the distance. I asked a cop what was going on. I was told something about a bomb at the Pentagon. (Serious misinformation going around.) I started to get the sense that this was serious.

I got to work. Everyone was there. There was a television set up in the kitchen, but with only a pair of rabbit ears and no cable, the picture was awful. Soon I retreated to my office to surf major web sites -- anything for a hint about what was going on. Finally the truth emerged, in all its awfulness. By then I saw the still photos of the collapsing towers on every major news source. By then the television in the kitchen had rebroadcast the impact ad nauseum, as if we really needed to see, over and over and over, the planes hitting the World Trade Center.

Slowly but surely, my colleagues started making their way home. Which was difficult, of course, since Metro had shut down most of its lines, leaving those people who had commuted into work that morning without a terribly effective way of returning home. I live way too close to the office, so I really had the choice to either walk home or stay at the office, either one being the substantial equivalent of the other: Being so near Ground Zero Washington, it wasn't like my two home bases made any different in terms of effect on impact. So my colleague Bert and I (Bert being stranded by lack of Metro service) wandered the ghost-town streets of downtown Wahington. We kept a vigil as close to the 16th Street view of the White House as we could. Upon hearing that the Washington Post was publishing an EXTRA edition, we went to the Post headquarters and got one. We went back to my place and kept watching the news from there. There was nothing to do but watch the reports and just keep seeing, "Holy fucking crap."

I could go on and on about how 9/11 has become a major political lynchpin in today's race, and unfairly so. I could opine about how it's a crutch for the Republican party used to mask absolutely no substantive platform otherwise. And I could draw parallels between the religious extremism that led to 9/11 and the religious extremism on American soil that leads to First Amendment violations as well as ideological issues like opposition to gay rights.

But for today, I should probably just let this be a day of remembrance.

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