19 years ago, I get a call from Ken. “Are you watching the news?”
I hadn’t turned on the TV that morning…I tend to avoid the noise usually.
We’re in Charlotte. Ken’s at work, I’m at home, thinking it’s an ordinary day. I turn on the TV to see news that an airplane has crashed into the World Trade Center. The news reporters are thinking it must be an accident.
Ken has to go. I hang up the phone, still watching the news. As I watch, a second plane flies into the building. The scenes that follow, live with cameras rolling, are scenes that will stay with me forever. People jumping out of the building. You watch them, hoping that some way, some how they can be safe, and knowing that it’s impossible. The shock of the towers collapsing. The rubble and dust, empty fire engines whose crew was inside helping others to safety. The shocked face of reporters who haven’t had time to erase the emotions from their faces, so what we’re getting is completely real for once.
When I think back to 9-11, the first thing that comes to mind is that, the look on the newscasters’ faces. Shock and terror showing that they’re as unsettled as the rest of us. They speak on air, the same words that the rest of us are uttering…”What just happened? What did you see?” Nothing is scripted and everything is real. Right here. Right now. Did you see that???
The on-the-ground reporters, trying to wipe the dust of the collapsed building out of their eyes, trying to talk and still in shock.
The people, walking across the bridge, trying to get to somewhere safe. And the knowledge that this was happening here, in the US, where in spite of our imperfections, things were supposed to be safe.
And then another crash, into the pentagon…and a plane falling out of the sky. And finally, the realization that we’ve just watched the end of the world. That tomorrow, it will be a new world that we wake up to, knowing that as much as they tell us things won’t change, they’re lying.