Sunday, September 11, 2011

Personal consequence of 9/11/2001 morning

I used to be an watcher of TV news and listened faithfully to NPR during my drive to and from work each weekday.  But since that morning I can no longer do either.  The heartbreak of 9/11 is etched into my visual and aural memories of news programs in either media.

What happened was this:  Every weekday I would take a shower than wander into the kitchen to snap on the tv to hear the weather and fix my breakfast just before 6am Seattle time.  If it was a lucky day, Mt Rainier would be visible and start off my day with a smile.  Now you are saying to yourself, why would she watch the weather when it is always raining in Seattle -- temperature baby, temperature.

Anyway, that day was the tv picture came into focus I see this building burning and what appears to be airplane wreckage.  I say to myself, I don't remember any disaster movies coming out soon wonder what that is and my it looks realistic.  Then I hear a voice over talking about NYC and how a plane hit one of the twin towers.  I think to myself was there some horrible glitch in the cockpit software (hint: I was software engineer for Boeing)? 

I dash to my bedroom and don a pair of slacks and pullon type top suitable for the casual work environment of the Boeing Space Center and rush back to see this plane I recognize as a Boeing plane impact the second tower.  That image is seared on my brain.  To see a Boeing plane hit the tower.  I knew then it was not an accident or glitch but a hijacking.

I rushed the rest of my morning routine and started my commute to work.  I don't even remember finishing breakfast so I bet my cat ate the milk and cereal.  I snapped on the radio, which was always tuned to NPR to listen and catch what ever was being reported.

I am almost to work and have been listening to a reporter live from the Pentagon when what happens but he is saying "we're hit"  and a couple of seconds of silence and then the studio reporter takes over.  I snapped off the radio and have never listened to NPR news again. 

When I reach work a few minutes later, the gates are still open and I park inside.  Less than thirty minutes later, the gates will be closed for several years with guards checking badges.  The office administrator I had known for fifteen years has a small black and white tv she is using to provide us information during the day.  There's no tweeting or wide spread texting to spread the news then.  We had no idea if there were more targets only this time the West Coast.  The admin reported about the plane going down in Pennsylvania.  People who were on vacation far from home called in to say they would be driving rather than flying and hence not back when expected.  The atmosphere was not just somber but wary.

My daughter asked me later why I had even gone to work that day.   I replied I didn't know what was going to happen but I thought I might be able to help, no matter what it was.  So, I guess I am one of those whose impulse is to pull together and do whatever needs to be done to get all of us through the crisis.  I know I am not alone in this and many, many people did that following 9/11.   I salute them all.

Today, in Newfield there will be a ceremony in the grove (some towns have a square, Newfield has a grove) in remembrance.  Local volunteer fire companies will attend and local churches are supporting.  Newfield has four - hopefully the one that always sets itself apart because of religious doctrine will bend and participate but I wouldn't bet on it.

Just like I wouldn't bet that our congress critters will bend from their doctrinal positions and put the good of all the citizens as their first priority rather than re-election, but I can always hope.  Congress needs that spirit of pulling together that 9/11 evinced.  Heck the whole country needs to remember and act on that feeling.