Friday, September 08, 2006

World Trade Center

I was going to reserve this post for the eleventh, but I just got back from watching World Trade Center. Wow. That's all I can say.

Sometimes you need to be reminded of things.

I paid attention to much of what was going on in the periphery of this movie, because I was visualizing in my mind exactly what I was doing as the events of the film unfolded. I can still remember that day as clear as if it were yesterday. I can remember hearing some of the newscasts the first time.

The night before, I had been watching the news from our local ABC affiliate, because I was about to start work there at that station the next day. I had never worked in TV before, and I wanted to see what the station was like. I wanted to see how their news staff did things. So, while watching the 10 o'clock news, I fell asleep on the couch. The TV remained on.

As I woke up the morning of September 11, 2001, the first thing that broke through the sleepy haze was Peter Jennings' voice and a picture on the TV of the Twin Towers. Smoke was coming out of one of them, and before I was fully awake smoke was coming out of both of them. I reached for the remote and turned up the volume, sitting up on the sofa, wondering why the trashy talk shows or fake courtroom shows weren't on.

A plane had flown into a skyscraper, they said. You don't hear that everyday. Still, it just seemed like it could have been an accident. And surely it was just a twin engine prop, not a 747 or anything like that. No, wait, two planes... that's no accident. I watched for about fifteen minutes more. Then, flashes of the Pentagon afire...

I picked up my phone and called my dad. "Are you seeing this?" I asked him.

"Yes," he said. "I heard it on the radio while I was in my truck. I turned around and came back home to watch what's happening." That's when I knew something was really wrong. It's not everything that would make him turn his truck around from what he was doing.

And then the towers came down. Nobody on TV knew what to say. I sure didn't. Peter Jennings didn't even know what was going on. The cloud rose up, and they were still jabbering about something else. Peter stopped a second and asked "what are we seeing here?" If he didn't know, who would?

I got onto the internet and there were more stories than I knew what to do with. Most of them were wildly inaccurate. They were saying that another plane had been headed for the White House and had been shot down by US military. Others said it was a freak crash. Still others said that it hadn't even happened.

One of my friends sent me an instant message. Some idiot was selling what were supposedly chunks of the World Trade Center on eBay. That's the thing about tragedy. It brings out heroes, but it also brings out scumbags.

I logged off and sat there, unsure of how I should feel about it. For sure, nothing was ever going to be the same again. That sense of security that we children of the 70's and 80's grew up with, that invincibility that we thought we had was gone within less than a 24 hour period. It was our Pearl Harbor. Someone, something had attacked us. Had used our own planes full of our own people to strike a building. At the time, a terrorist act of such grand proportions seemed unlikely, or so we thought then, before our world view was turned on its ear.

Time for work came sooner than expected. I tried to find a radio station with calm music on it, just to take a break from all the coverage. No luck. Everybody was either broadcasting their own version of the news or simulcasting CNN's newscast. I turned the radio off, and my thoughts went to the families of what must undoubtedly be thousands of dead. I cried for them in sympathy for their sorrow as I drove, and I cried a little bit for where I knew that we as a people were going to have to go in the days to come.

As I walked into that TV station for the first time on that Tuesday, I didn't know what to expect. "You picked a whale of a day to start," one of the news directors told me in passing. But there was no time to process, no time to learn. Just time to get on the floor, point the cameras, and play it by ear.

Few days in life have been longer than that. That being said, though, none of them have been longer than the time that officers McLaughlin and Jimeno spent buried in the wreckage of the towers, not knowing whether they would live or die. As I watched these two suffer throughout the movie, I wondered if I would survive in such a situation. I wondered if I would have had the guts to volunteer to head up in Tower 1, into Hell's Mouth, just to save a few people.

I must give high praise to the film. Not because Oliver Stone spectacularly re-created the events with dazzling special effects, because he did not. The planes hitting the towers all happened off-screen, as did the collapsing. I praise it not because it serves a political purpose, because as hard as it is to believe, the movie is not biased at all. I praise this movie because it reminds us of the heartbreak and human drama, the heroism and the bravery of those who served, and the way we can all pull together when the time is right.

While we live, let us never forget those that gave their lives in search of others. And may we pray that if one day the call comes for us to lay down our lives to save another that we would have the same fortitude as those who perished that fateful day when the world as we know it changed forever.


At 1:55 AM, Blogger RC said...

great post, thanks for sharing...and there is certainly no harm in posting this a few days before the anniversary...these stories are important year round.

--RC of

At 10:27 PM, Blogger larry said...

another movie to check out is united 93 very good movie but sad towards the end because in real life just like in the movie those people died but they didnt die without a fight.


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