September 11, 18 years on

It’s hard to believe that a baby born on that horrible day would now be a legal adult, able to vote and otherwise self-determine. Like most of life, there’s more to the story we might tell such a youngster than a cowardly attack that united us all in some magic unity that we should pursue and recreate.

I went to sleep the night of September 10, 2001 looking forward to what I was hoping would be a transformational part-one special on ABC’s Nightline the following night about the Congo and the ongoing horrors and the promise it held. I had set my TiVO to record it, allocating extra time in case it ran late. I was sure it would. At the time (as now!) conflict was killing hundreds of thousands of people, but because of their color, location, and status in a resource-providing country, we paid them little mind. This was finally set to change, assured Ted Koppel.

My mother was American, raised from 5+ in Colombia, and my father was Swiss. He was stationed in Kinshasa for Gulf Oil and my mother was there until right before my birth. She un-assed to Johannesburg, and so I was born in South Africa. I spent the next few months in Kinshasa, then we moved on to Switzerland, Turkey, and finally the States.

Though white as pale rice, I’ve always felt a kinship with Africa and black Africans, in particular. As far as I can figure, I had infantile exposure that left me feeling comfortable and at peace. I’m not African, but I feel something that few other white Americans I’ve met, know. The two times I’ve been lucky enough to go to South and Eastern Africa, I’ve felt a certain “I’m home” feeling that is strange but genuine. I’m not black, not African, but I have some bond that is real for me.

I later learned the horrors of European occupation, especially in the Congo (though I’d not yet read King Leopold’s Ghost) and the murder and tribal genocide since independence. I knew in 2001 that there were was bloodshed, torture, rape, tribal genocide, etc. going on. In the DRC, the old stories were true. And current. Unspeakable things, to our fellow humans, in the shadow and the light. With impunity.

I was so optimistic – fulfilled – that this dark horror that was murdering thousands of our fellow humans every week in the most horrible and pointless ways was going to be in the spotlight, and we, the U-S-A would make things better. I just knew that the unprecedented focus of Nightline on Sept 11, 2001 and Sept 12, 2oo1 would be a major step to making these horrors disappear.

But reality is fickle and tragedy endures.

 

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up hung over in my Manhattan hotel room, checked out, and happily walked the many, many blocks from my almost-Chinatown hotel to our midtown NYC office. I used to smoke, so it was a great way to wake up – good walk on a crisp September morning, lots of Dunhill reds, and people-watching galore.

I was from the DC office, in NYC for two days of media group training. While getting ready Monday morning, for the first time ever I’d had major, visceral misgivings about the trip and wanted to cancel. Responsibility took over and I made the early express train to Penn Station as planned. Day 1 of training was uneventful.

I spent the night of September 10 having far too many scotches in a well-known meeting spot with my former boss. His background was in publishing, and he had some choice insights and stories that night about Rupert Murdoch as well as his own college days in SDS. I was less interested in his thoughts about the newspaper industry and more about his to-me-heroic activist and rebellion years, but even then, we agreed that Murdoch was a cancer on society and was wreaking harm on what we called dear. Little did we know.

I arrived early for Day 2 of our training, having picked up a delicious bacon egg and cheese croissant from some breakfast and lunch deli along the walk. I marveled at the color of the blue sky overseeing us and the cool, dry air. After arrival, check in, and riding the correct elevator (not all go to every floor), I ate, visited, and otherwise prepped for a normal day of offsite training, networking, and team building in our NYC office.

The trainer began on-time and we reviewed the previous day before beginning the new day’s lesson. Someone was getting further clarification on our first task of the day when the door opened.

My unshakable, Staten-Island-born-and-raised group manager came in, ashen.  She articulated – a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center – and left the door to close itself as she staggered off to inform others. Her Italian-American charm was replaced by grim, stunned shock.

I jumped up and excused myself from training and ran to the reception area to view the TV. I was watching the confusion and chaos on the TV coverage when the second plane hit; once the second hit was confirmed, I said out loud “shit, we’re under attack” and dashed for the elevators to go down and call my loved ones in DC to let them know I was far away from WTC and that I would make my way home to DC as soon as I safely could. I had to do this because the main cell towers at the time were on WTC so once they were down, most cell phones were useless (except for my NYC friends with the Nextel “push to talk” walkie-talkie function). I knew that there were old-fashioned phone booths outside the building, and so I scrambled to get down, out, back in, and upstairs before things got locked down.

Over the course of the morning, day, evening, and night, the world changed.

I will never forget going upstairs to the travel office to see out a big window, and asking “wait – what happened to the tower”, only to be informed that it had collapsed while I’d been running up the three flights of stairs, and that vertical rose-grey dust cloud was now “it”.

The incandescent glow from tower 2 burned into my retinas until that tower, too, collapsed into a rushing cloud. The glow from those fires was so much more than what comes across in filmed footage.

I won’t belabor all the details, but it was surreal – being from DC – being in Manhattan that day, hearing from friends in DC who were on the way to work and saw the plane streak overhead and disappear before a huge boom and cloud. Hearing about the Pentagon attack, the alleged State Department attack, the plane in Pennsylvania. Rumors, panic, while the airports, trains, buses, bridges, tunnels were closed. Manhattan is an island. I think I read a book about this….

In NYC, friends and colleagues walked across town then bridges, then home. Others walked across bridges to catch New Jersey trains to a far-enough-away airports to rent a car. Or to distant family. One pair got to Newark, rented a car -for $200 a day! – and drove to Los Angeles in like 8 days. I shit you not.

Walking to my dear college friend’s family apartment in Chelsea was memorable – we discussed what we might have to do to get out of Manhattan, walking through the tunnels, if that’s what it came to.  I did read that book – Stephen King’s The Stand and the dark tunnel sequence haunted my thoughts until I finally slept the next morning.

Early in the evening, I found out that trains were going to be heading south to DC, so I rushed to the station and got on board the first train to DC with a few coworkers. It was weird to be running around Manhattan and seeing zero – ZERO – cars driving.  It was people walking and the only moving vehicles were convoys of cops and other flashing-light vehicles. I’m 90% sure I saw AF-1 fly over because the paint job, but officially, that didn’t happen.

At Penn Station, I reassured one terrified coworker that I would make sure she got to her friend and so, to safety, and I did. Getting her to her best friend’s house in the MD suburbs outside DC was the good deed that helped me cope with the whole day and event. I drove home from there – less than two miles – giddy with relief that I’d helped someone in genuine distress and so could carry on with my and my loved ones’ distress.

On that train, I met and discussed the attack with a Palestinian immigrant who worked in IT on Wall Street and lived in Princeton. He asked me who I thought did it, and after I said “Bin Laden”, he asked me if I was sure. And I thought and began to wake up – it could have been Colombian drug lords because, for the first time, we’d extradited one the DAY BEFORE. And it could be China – in revenge for the Embassy we attacked mistakenly. Or Bosnians. Or radical anarchist types. Or, or, or. I managed to come up with quite a list before he said – no, I think you’re right, it was Bin Laden.

That thought exercise under such duress did change me, as did my conversation with the man who took his seat upon arriving at Princeton. He spoke limited English, was Egyptian, Muslim, and had no idea what was going on – at all.

He was a medical student going from Cairo to Wisconsin to study neonatal/obstetrics. He had spent the day in the bus station waiting for his bus to DC to visit cousins on the way to his school. He did not understand people around him and so knew people were upset and things were all fucked up, but he had no idea why or what. He had been guided to take the train as buses would not be running to DC for a while.

When I explained what had happened, and that it looked like Muslims had done this, I realized that he was at risk, mostly from law enforcement, but also anybody feeling the vigilante-cum-revenge demon. Doubly -triply- because of his limited English.

So, after explaining as much as I could with his limited English, I gave him my business card with a note on the back in case he got into trouble.  I never heard from him again, but I do hope he managed to study and become the doctor he so wanted to be.

When we finally arrived at DC’s Union Station late that night, it was plainly unbelievable to come out of the building and see the Army – men, machine guns, helmets, APCs, etc – in our Nation’s Capital, just a few blocks from the literal Capitol. It was like a movie but far too real – that movie-reality had invaded our normal DC world.

Going to sleep around 6 the next morning, it was hard to believe that the world could ever become normal again. Having planes not flying over for many, many days (National was closed beyond the Sept 13 date for most other airports) was the tunnel into this weird new era for me, a remarkable sound and sight difference heralding change through absence.

 

Have a great day, everybody. Grieve those lost that day and because of that day, but truly grieve the future that was not to be. The first tragedy was the stolen 2000 election, then 9-11, then the 2016 election. Grievous wounds have been struck deep into our national soul and I’m still not sure we’ll survive them.

I do know that hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of our fellow humans have been murdered in the most horrible circumstances in the DRC since then. So for all the horrors in the US, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. that we normally chalk up to the Bush 9-11 failures, add the loss of these masses our attention and action would have saved, should things have turned out differently.

 

There shall be pictures tomorrow and Friday, so though today’s post is dour, we’ll have some joy the rest of the week! Such is life.






205 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Thanks for this, Alain.

    ReplyReply
  2. 2
    rikyrah says:

    Thanks for this post😢😢😢

    ReplyReply
  3. 3
    BellyCat says:

    Remarkable reminders. Thank you.

    ReplyReply
  4. 4
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Thank you, Alain.

    ReplyReply
  5. 5
    Mary G says:

    What a horrible day that was, even all the way across the country. My LA Times didn’t show up the next morning and I drove all over hell and gone trying to buy one. That night a plane flew over my house and I got hysterical because I was sure it was the terrorists.

    ReplyReply
  6. 6
    Raven says:

    They got what they wanted. People have used it as a rationale for all kinds of horrible stuff ever since. I remember being at a party about a month later. I was talking to a guy who lost his leg in Vietnam when a young woman began to talk about his terrified she was to be flying in a few days. We told her she just couldn’t live in fear because of what happened. . .yea she could.

    ReplyReply
  7. 7
    Amir Khalid says:

    12 time zones away, I was just home from work and was waiting for The West Wing. Which got interrupted for live video of the Twin Towers coming down. I too remember thinking that something had changed forever in that moment.

    ReplyReply
  8. 8
    Cermet says:

    Relative to the “Congo”, besides blood diamonds, add blood phones since MOST of the money driving that mass slaughter is supplied via the minerals that are vital to create our little phones. Until and unless the end users decide that blood phones aren’t anything but devices created from the killing, maiming and enslavement of vast numbers of Congolese this terrible conflict will be further inflamed and fueled by this vast inflow of cash – cheap phones come at a high price in human blood..

    ReplyReply
  9. 9
    seaninclt says:

    I, at the time, worked at the Alexandria Home Depot (a few miles away from the Pentagon) on 9/11. My wife worked on the Hill and I remember calling her saying she should get out of there asap. Later that day, we got word from the corp office in ATL that the military would be coming to the store, give them anything they want, keep track of it (if you can) and don’t worry about payment. The thing I remember most was them telling us they need masks and plastic containers with lids – the big ones you use in your garage for your kid’s toys or random garden tools. Me, being a mid 20s moron, asked the officer in charge why they needed so many (they took hundreds of em – the big, stack-able Rubbermaid ones) and wouldn’t it be easier to clear debris with wheelbarrows – dude just kinda looked at me deadpan and said: “they’re for the bodies, not the rocks”. That was the first time (of many over the next 24 hours) that I was really shook (as the kids say)…

    ReplyReply
  10. 10
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I was so optimistic – fulfilled – that this dark horror that was murdering thousands of our fellow humans every week in the most horrible and pointless ways was going to be in the spotlight, and we, the U-S-A would make things better.

    I thought that the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides of the ’90s would have that effect.

    Being hours away in Columbus, Ohio, I don’t have the visceral memories that New Yorkers and Washingtians have. I, however do remember thinking and talking on Salon’s Table Talk* about my fear that Beush and Co. would use what happened as an excuse to do all the shitty, right-wing things that the GOP had been jonesing for for years. Thank god I got that one wrong.

    *That place was my introduction to blog commenting. And also the place I first came across TBogg and a few others who came to fame in the next few years.

    ReplyReply
  11. 11
    JGabriel says:

    Alain:

    Going to sleep around 6 the next morning, it was hard to believe that the world could ever become normal again.

    It didn’t.

    ReplyReply
  12. 12
    Gvg says:

    Well Alain, the Bush administration would have screwed up helping the Congo because they were screw ups. They screwed up our response to 911. A different administration would have done things totally different.

    ReplyReply
  13. 13
    Chyron HR says:

    able to vote and otherwise self-determine.

    No way, shitlib, the Young Turks told me that voting is for suckers.

    ReplyReply
  14. 14
    Anne Laurie says:

    I was working in Boston’s John Hancock Tower — tallest building in the city — when the news started trickling around the department. Only television available was a crappy model used to screen promotional videos in one of the conference rooms; there’d been an incident a few years earlier when a nutcase tried to fly his plane into a Boston skyscraper, so at first we thought it might be a similar small-scale disaster. Our Senior VP, an English expat who could charitably be described as an odd duck, was furious when the official announcement came, around 10am, that the building was being shut down for the day (and, as it turned out, the next day). “WE didn’t shut down when London was blitzed, what a bunch of weak sisters you are!”

    My first thought, when I saw the WTC coming down, was How lucky that [Dear Friend] no longer works in that building. As I didn’t find out until later, actually he still *did*… but it was his birthday, so he’d taken the morning off, and emerged from the PATH station to find his office gone (and many of his coworkers, it would turn out, dead.) I remain duly grateful for Murphy’s unpredictable benevolence that day.

    It was also the Spousal Unit’s birthday… and the first day after he’d been laid off. He woke up late, thinking, Well, at least this day’s not gonna get any worse. Then the phone rang, with a message from me: “I’m fine, will be home as soon as the T can get me there, but you should turn on the news.” So he did, and in his sleep-muzzy state, at first he thought the image of the second tower crumbling (the video being played on what seemed like an unending loop for the next several days) was “our” Hancock Tower…

    One of the odd things for me, in the aftermath: That was the first major disaster I remember when most people had cell phones, so we got all those stories about doomed victims leaving messages for their loved ones. I told the Spousal Unit that this struck me as grotesque (I’m not good at farewells), and he insisted that he, on the other hand, would ABSOLUTELY have wanted me to call him, under similar circumstances. I pointed out that he was still in the stage where he mostly ‘forgot’ to carry or to charge his own cellphone, so the odds were that my last message would consist of me screaming slurs about his habits & his ancestry… which he pointed out would at least be comfortingly familar…

    ReplyReply
  15. 15
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    I was in DC working at a now defunct climate change policy non-profit. Got to work and one of my co-workers said a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers. He didn’t specify that it was a major jet airliner, so I assumed a little Cessna or something towing a advertising banner or on a sight seeing trip had goofed in a major way. It took about 15 or so minutes after that before I got word that something really serious was actually happening.

    The non-profit on the floor below ours had a TV so we went down there to watch the coverage. I saw the first tower collapse and nobody reacted, we all could not believe our lying eyes at first. Then out onto the rooftop deck of the building where we could see the smoke rising from the Pentagon. DC was surreal. I walked home through the quietest day I’ve ever experienced in the city.

    ReplyReply
  16. 16
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: TBogg and David Neiwert—discovered them at Salon’s TableTalk. And the extremely long discussion chain about all the details of W’s NatnlGuard ‘service’ and his being AWOL. Very interesting how that story just ‘disappeared’.

    ReplyReply
  17. 17
    hueyplong says:

    I was in a midtown Manhattan office tower for a 9 am deposition. Big case, lots of lawyers, nearly all New Yorkers.

    They evacuated our firm’s office building in Atlanta that day, but never did so where I was in NYC. You left when you left, via elevator, nobody talking.

    Atlanta school classrooms went into full fear-watching of TVs. My wife drove to each school to tell my kids that their dad was fine.

    Everyone in my large conference room was anxious about friends and family, especially after cell tower knocked out. I felt half numb half guilty as an essential spectator in no personal danger with friends and relatives at a safe distance.

    Next morning I drove a rented car home, the only vehicle on the west side expressway heading to the GW Bridge, smoke/dust cloud in real view mirror. Surreal, like watching a movie instead of living an experience.

    ReplyReply
  18. 18
    debbie says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Yes. I remember meeting friends there for lunches and dinners. I remember taking visiting friends to the observation deck. I knew people who worked in those buildings (luckily, the one working on one of the higher-up floors had just left to meet a client), and I spent the next couple of days emailing them to make sure they were okay. What I most remember is walking around in the underground concourse in the mid-80s, running errands and suddenly realizing that there were 110 floors above me that could collapse on top of me. Having that memory while watching the towers actually collapse was horrific. For the days that followed, I had no thoughts about geopolitical consequences; I thought only about the people in the buildings and what they must have gone through.

    ReplyReply
  19. 19
    Nelle says:

    @JGabriel: For many, it has never been “normal.”

    ReplyReply
  20. 20
    Van Buren says:

    Watched the towers burn from my Brooklyn classroom. Colleague drove me home as trains were not running. Woman across the street lost her brother. Good friend was a lower Manhattan Court Officer, he spent days coated in dust; so far no related illness.

    ReplyReply
  21. 21
    Nelle says:

    Alain, did the special on the Congo ever appear? I was unaware of it at the time as we didn’t have a TV. However, my brother-in-law and nieces are Congese so my sister has lived there off and on ( she evacuated on the last ferry to Brazzaville in the civil war of ’97). Because Mennonites have always been active there, I’ve always known people who grew up there or did their alternative service as conscientious objectors as teachers there. To a person, Congo is in their hearts. (There are more Mennonites in the DRC than in North America.)

    Anyway, instead of expanding a sense of what danger many in the world live with, so many (particularly Republicans) got even more self and American focused and fixated.

    ReplyReply
  22. 22
    Eric U. says:

    On a totally different note, I was in a meeting that day and a colleague mentioned ruefully that it was his birthday. So at least I can remember his birthday.

    ReplyReply
  23. 23
    Immanentize says:

    I was in Boston. Just started my current job a month before…. One of my new colleague’s brother worked in T1 on the fifth or sixth floor, but he got out and was OK, although she didn’t find out for 12 hours. And a good friend of mine used to work in the tower but her Liberty Mutual unit had moved uptown almost a year before.

    We spent the morning at the University watching on big projection TVs in the meeting rooms. Then, everyone went home. Boston was already clearing out. Police were all over the train station and they were replaced by military the next day. Jets flew overhead.

    The Immp was only four months old! And he was back at home in Medford — we had moved in from San Antonio in August — with my wife. I had called earlier and told her to turn on the TV. She told me that Sears had just delivered our new washer, dryer and refrigerator…. How the mundane meets the extraordinary

    But also let us not forget anthrax….

    ReplyReply
  24. 24
    Eric Nny says:

    Wonderful.

    ReplyReply
  25. 25
    Karen S. says:

    I was working as a reporter for a chain of weekly community newspapers in suburban Chicago at the time. I’d been glued to the TV watching reports of what was happening that morning as I got ready for work. My younger brother was working back then at a nonprofit near lower Manhattan. I wasn’t sure how close he actually was to the World Trade Center. I called and left a message for him before I left for work. I left another message for him when I got to work. The newsroom was quiet, most of watching the couple of small TVs that were there. Our editors gave us our assignments for the day. Until I heard from my brother that afternoon, I found it difficult to concentrate. The relief I felt when I heard his voice was and is indescribable. I remember two other things most vividly from that time. The first is the quiet because all aircraft were grounded for about a week afterwards. I was living with my parents in my childhood home which is a couple of miles west of O’Hare Airport. Airplanes taking off and landing had been background noise while I was growing up, so I noticed the absence quite keenly. The second thing I recall was a moment at a meeting I was covering a few weeks later. I think it was a village board meeting or perhaps a meeting of some village committee or other, transportation or public safety. Anyway, this one smarmy Republican guy, a now former state rep, was there and said at one point during the moment how thankful he was that we have “a true leader” (remember, GWB was president at the time) in the White House instead of what we could have had (Al Gore). There were many murmurs of agreement because most every other public official there was a Republican. I bit my tongue. I didn’t know then exactly what we (the U.S.) would do in retaliation, but I knew it would probably make things worse.

    ReplyReply
  26. 26
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    I was between jobs and home that morning. My husband called and demanded that I turn on the TV. When I asked why, he said there were some confused reports on the radio and he wanted to know what was really happening.

    I managed to tell him that the WTC had smoke billowing out of one of the towers before the second plane flew in. I went silent. I remember increasingly urgent questions about what was going on.

    Finally, “A plane just flew into the other tower.”

    “What kind of plane?”

    “Passenger jet. Bigger than a puddle jumper, don’t think it was a wide-body.”

    “Oh, shit. Is that where Susan works?”

    (Side note: we both grew up with plane-mad fathers. And both have an engineering background. Materials science told us what was coming.)

    “Dunno. I’ll check. Call you back when something else happens.”

    I went onto a private NNTP server to check in on the people we knew in NYC SF fandom. Mass confusion reigned there, as most people were at work, the best sources of information were the news websites, and they were all crashing. I spent the rest of the day transcribing the broadcasts for the server members so that they wouldn’t have keep trying the news sites.

    Learned a couple of days later that someone I knew from a music fandom had been filming a commercial in one of the nearby buildings, saw the first plane behaving strangely, and turned the cameras to film out the window. Those films from the “impossible angle” that the conspiracy theorists love to talk about? Yeah, those were his work.

    ReplyReply
  27. 27
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    I went to work.

    ReplyReply
  28. 28
    RAVEN says:

    @Immanentize: Hey, thanks!

    ReplyReply
  29. 29
    RAVEN says:

    @Karen S.: I’m from Villa Park

    ReplyReply
  30. 30
    laura says:

    Danny Lee had just finished his job breaking down the stage as a carpenter on tour with the backstreet boys in Boston. The tour had been postponed for a month and a half while a band member rehabbed for substance abuse. A PA drove Danny to the airport to make his flight back to LA for the schedule ceasarean of his second child. Danny didnt make it home. My roadie brothers arranged to pick up Danny’s dogs and his in laws watched their toddler while Danny’s widow gave birth in unimaginable grief. Fearing flying, Danny’s widow, children in laws and dogs moved back to Pennsylvania, and were driven in the personal tour bus of Stevie Nick’s, a compassionate woman.
    Danny Lee’s daughter will be 18 tomorrow. Roadie brother the elder named his first borne in remembrance of his dear friend Daniel Lee.

    ReplyReply
  31. 31
    Immanentize says:

    @RAVEN: You’re welcome. Go fish.

    ReplyReply
  32. 32

    I was getting ready to teach a class and walked through the department lounge where one woman was watching it on TV. That was the first I heard of it. I decided to hold class anyway. The students were understandably shaken. I told them we didn’t know what was happening or who did it, and at the moment, we should just do our work. A politically active kid named Omar rushed in late, but sat down and stayed. He said “that’s right” when I said we don’t know who did it. I don’t know how much any of us took in, but I think we were all calmer at the end.

    ReplyReply
  33. 33
    Matt McIrvin says:

    On September 12th I rode the commuter rail to and from work. I remember a young brown-skinned man in the seat in front of me, clearly scared out of his mind, muttering what looked like prayers under his breath so he could make it home in one piece. If I’d been James Woods I probably would have decided he was a terrorist and called the cops on him.

    I shy away from writing these kinds of retrospectives because I keep thinking that if I’d banged one out at any time in the first couple of years after the attacks, the “insights” I’d have put down would embarrass me now.

    I think a lot of what drives Trump fandom is nostalgia for the newfound commitment to bigotry, hate and unthinking jingoism that Americans made on that day.

    ReplyReply
  34. 34
    Karen S. says:

    @RAVEN: Elk Grove Village is where I grew up.

    ReplyReply
  35. 35
    hueyplong says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Totally agree with your last point.

    ReplyReply
  36. 36
    karensky says:

    Alain, you are a terrific writer and memoirist. Thanks.

    ReplyReply
  37. 37
    Baud says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I think a lot of what drives Trump fandom is nostalgia for the newfound commitment to bigotry, hate and unthinking jingoism that Americans made on that day.

    They were promised a permanent Republican majority.

    ReplyReply
  38. 38
    Kristine says:

    I was at work–pharma company outside Chicago. Cube farm. I heard lots of talking. Then we all went online. Someone found an old TV.

    The guy in the cube next to mine was from NJ. His brother worked in one of the Towers, and he was trying to find out if he was okay. IIRC, he was.

    I live under one of the flight paths for a local airport, and occasionally see the planes that take off from O’Hare. One thing I will always remember is how quiet the skies were. No planes for days.

    ReplyReply
  39. 39
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    I was at work for the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. Our office was located in L’Enfant Plaza, SW DC — just across the Potomac from the Pentagon. After we heard the news (and staff dismissed), we rushed outside to see the billowing clouds of black smoke from the Pentagon. Traffic was at a standstill, but the Metro was still running, so my colleagues either walked home or took the Metro. After several hours on the Metro (a creepy ride being underground), I made it home to suburban Maryland.

    However, what I remember most was that a colleague was home on maternity leave — her due date was THAT DAY. We were hoping so hard that the baby came later, which it did, on September 15th.

    And I see that the Washington Post for this morning nas no front-page article on September 11th. I remember my father being upset when the local paper stopped running front-page articles for Pearl Harbor and D-Day as he felt these needed to be remembered, and for a while, September 11th was the same. But not today — I think that is a good thing as remembering the day brings with it the memories of failed wars, hostility to Muslims and fears of non-white non-Christian peoples.

    ReplyReply
  40. 40
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Baud: Permanent control by a Republican minority is a pretty good consolation prize.

    ReplyReply
  41. 41
    Baud says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    It’s a consolation they’ll never see, if I have anything to say about it.

    ReplyReply
  42. 42

    Whoa, Alain.

    9/11 for me was:

    I was at the main library in downtown Ft. Lauderdale meeting with other librarians in the tech lab (computers) departments. The library was switching to a new email system (groupwise) and they wanted us to perform the in-house training. Meeting started at 9 am. One of my coworkers was late, coming in and saying there was news a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers.

    It was sad to hear, but we all knew the story about the Empire State building getting hit with a plane back in the 1940s, so we assumed it was a tragic pilot’s error or bad weather or something (it was a clear day that morning in Florida. I think it turned out the whole Atlantic seaboard had clear skies… it was going to be such a beautiful day…) So we settled in, going over the email system, what we should teach, what the handout materials should look like, etc. It took about an hour, just sitting there in the classroom lab unaware of what was happening outside.

    When we finished the meeting, we left the classroom and walked out into the foyer area and up the escalator to the library’s main floor. They had dragged out a TV on a cart and was trying to get a signal. For some reason, TV reception was lousy in that building, and they didn’t have cable connection. I saw an old boss of mine who was also at the library for a meeting and approached her, asking what was going on.

    “Oh my God,” she told me. “There was another plane hitting the other World Trade Center tower.”

    It took a few seconds. It took a few seconds to realize that one plane was an accident. Two planes, one right after the other… hitting each tower…

    I knew then it meant war.

    The lobby TV was terrible, snow and static, and I went up the 8th floor to see if reception for a TV in the staff lounge was better up there. It wasn’t. They tried moving it into a meeting room closer to the windows to see if that could help. And barely. There was still a lot of static and snow, and some of the guys I was with didn’t agree with me when I swore one of the towers had collapsed.

    By that time, reports of the Pentagon strike were all over the place, rumors about other buildings getting hit with car bombs, more planes in the air… The call went out from the county government: everyone close down and go home.

    Every skyscraper in Ft. Lauderdale was closing (the odds of terrorists striking South Florida seemed ridiculous, but by then panic was unshakable). The parking lot for the library was actually a few blocks to the other side of the government center across the street. I walked across and met a young couple who were trying to enter the government building. The county center had already locked their doors. The couple didn’t know. I told them. “Terrorists are flying planes into buildings. They hit the Twin Towers. One of them’s gone, just flat out gone.”

    By the time I got to my car and got the radio on – the first time I could clearly get news about what was happening – the second Tower fell.

    I couldn’t go straight home: while the downtown buildings were closed, other library branches were still open and I had to report back to the NW Regional branch in Coral Springs. When I got there, the whole staff knew. I met with my tech lab workers and we all talked about what was happening in low hushed tones. There were probably 7 patrons in the whole building, just one in that lab. Just before lunch time, the word came down that all libraries were closed until further notice from the county.

    That whole day ended up with me in a daze. I went home first, sitting with my two cats and watching CNN for hours. Reports on the last plane – Flight 93 – started coming in. By the afternoon, I felt restless, despairing. I decided to go donate blood. I had never done it before: I hate needles, was terrified of doing it, but that day… well I wasn’t the only one. The only blood bank anywhere in North Broward was crowded well out into the parking lot. I ended up standing there for three hours before it had gotten so dark that you couldn’t see the persons you were talking with (few parking lot lights). So I went home and went back to donate blood that Saturday…

    I’ve been through three different jobs and relocations since then. My oldest nephew from my twin brother’s family was born just before it happened and he’s just started college.

    It’s insane we’re still at war. It’s more maddening that we’re at war with ourselves as much as the world.

    ReplyReply
  43. 43
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Immanentize: So much of the fear and security theater in the subsequent months was actually about the anthrax mailer (apparently a white American guy with his own weird sense of political theatrics), not the September 11th attacks themselves. And it does seem like that gets forgotten.

    ReplyReply
  44. 44
    Nicole says:

    I worked back then at the Central Park Zoo, and roller bladed from my apartment in Chelsea to work every day. I remember skating up 6th Ave, and realizing everyone on the street was staring behind me, so I turned around and saw where the first plane had hit. Like a typical New Yorker, I assumed some drunk idiot in a small plane had accidentally flown into the building, so I watched awhile, but didn’t want to be late for work, so I turned around and skated the rest of the way. By the time I got there the second plane had hit, but I didn’t know until my coworkers told me. We watched the buildings fall on TV like most of the nation. I can still hear my one friend, saying bleakly, “There goes the other one.”

    It’s the photos of the missing, all over the city but especially near us (we were right near St. Vincents) that really stick with me. They became part of your day, and you started to feel like you really did know all of these people.

    I’ve never visited the new One World Trade Center. I can take friends visiting the city down there, but I get anxious if I’m there too long (so I usually go hide in Century 21 while they do the tour). Maybe someday.

    ReplyReply
  45. 45
    Baud says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Good point.

    ReplyReply
  46. 46
    Alain says:

    @Nelle: It did, about 6 weeks later. With our involvement in Afghanistan heating up and the Anthrax case, it was a spritz in a monsoon. The problems there endure. I so badly want to go and visit the Congo and see these things I grew up hearing stories about, but the instability and violence scares me away.

    @karensky: Thank you.

    I’ve written this general piece a few times and then decided not to publish it for years now. I sort of wish I had kept copies in order to compare details and attitudes, see what’s changed over time.

    Thanks to all who’ve shared (and will, throughout the day). I cannot watch the anniversary coverage or listen to it, it brings back far too much emotion.

    ReplyReply
  47. 47
    raven says:

    @Karen S.: Just up the road!

    ReplyReply
  48. 48
    Alain says:

    @Matt McIrvin: I’m not convinced we ever found the real Anthrax killer. I have my suspicions based on deduction and observation, but I will not publish them because of legal concerns.

    ReplyReply
  49. 49
    mad citizen says:

    I have a godson who has his 14th birthday today. He also just got a cellphone so I was able to text happy b day.

    I was at a conference outside Detroit on 9/11. I think it adjourned, but anyway I drove to a nearby outlet mall place, which was open late morning, to buy Dylan’s Love and Theft CD. Some of the lyrics had coincidental references to the tragic day.

    ReplyReply
  50. 50
    Alain says:

    @Matt McIrvin: oh, and at the time, I worked with newspapers, and so that Fall and early Winter, I reassured each paper I visited that they were safe, and that the Anthrax mailings had clearly been targeted and were not sent to “newspapers in general”. It was nice to hear, I’m sure, but their “lying eyes” saw one person from each department go outside to the mail triage/pre-screening area in the middle of the parking lot to gather and hand-deliver their department’s mail. It was a weird, scary time.

    ReplyReply
  51. 51
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Baud: Just came from an Erik Loomis thread about vote suppression on LGM. The comments there are mostly in agreement: democracy is dead and there is no hope, absolutely no hope. Loomis says his students agree that there is no future and having children is insane. He thinks they’re right, just wants to tell them why.

    ReplyReply
  52. 52
    chopper says:

    i was working in crystal city at the time, right by the pentagon. living up in takoma park. a bit more hung over then usual, i got on the wrong train at chinatown. turned around and came back only to find the yellow line down to work was shut down during the few minutes i was on the green. in my bleary-eyed confusion, i hadn’t pieced together what was going on, and all the whispering and talking on the platform didn’t seem to sink in. tried getting on the blue line for the roundabout way to work, and then it stops at rosslyn “due to a police matter at the pentagon”.

    finally give up and made a call from a pay phone to let my boss know i tried, but i’m going home to sleep it off. get back on the train and everyone’s talking and it pierces through the brain fog and i’m all holy shitballs! then someone says something something i hear the national mall’s on fire and i lose it.

    got out of the train and looked at my phone (wasn’t on verizon so i had no coverage on metro) and suddenly i’ve got 50 missed calls. got home and my roommates are stuck to the tv, of course. one of them was the son of the speaker of the house so we were basically on lockdown for a few days.

    one of my roommates looks at me at one point after the towers both fell on tv and says “a whole bunch of brown people are gonna die over this” and goddammit, he was right.

    ReplyReply
  53. 53
    Baud says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Par for the course over there. You’ll see threads like that here too.

    ReplyReply
  54. 54
    chopper says:

    @PaulWartenberg:

    i had friends working in the pentagon. one of whom, IIRC, was thrown like 20 feet when the plane hit and exploded, but made it out otherwise without any real injuries other than a wicked black eye for a week.

    ReplyReply
  55. 55
    Darrin Ziliak (formerly glocksman) says:

    I woke up about 8:00 local time that morning and turned on the TV like I usually do and flipped to CNN.
    IIRC, they were in the middle of speculating about the first crash when the second plane hit the towers.
    After watching for most of the day I had to leave for work at 3pm and when I arrived, the attacks were the only thing being discussed.

    The one thing that really stood out (other than the attacks themselves) was the pure selfishness of a few of my co-workers.

    There were actually people bitching about the plant (TJ Maxx Distribution Center) being open and not getting a paid day off.
    I just listened and kept my silence for a while, and then finally blew up and said “We’ve just been attacked, there are hundreds dead, and y’all are worried about not getting a paid day off? Fuck all of you!” and stormed off.

    In the days following the attacks someone crashed their car into the local Islamic center.
    IIRC after the crash there were plenty of volunteers and donations to help repair it, thus proving that not all Hoosiers are bigoted assholes.

    ReplyReply
  56. 56
    Cacti says:

    Still can’t help but wonder if tragedy could have been averted had the Supreme Court not stolen the presidency for George W. Bush.

    ReplyReply
  57. 57
    bystander says:

    Did anybody notice that twitler and Third Lady Melania made their entrance once everyone was beginning the first moment of silence? He couldn’t be there already. He had to step on the first moment of silence. I hate him more than I hated Bush II and Reagan put together.

    ReplyReply
  58. 58
    arrieve says:

    Thanks for this, Alain. I live in Manhattan, but I’d been in San Francisco for most of the summer taking care of my mother. September 11 was the day she was moving into assisted living. I got up early to pack and the downstairs neighbor called and told me to turn on the TV. My office was in Midtown, miles from the WTC, but I desperately wanted to talk to my friends and co-workers to make sure that they were all right. It was hours before I could get through, and because I hadn’t been able to watch the coverage except in short bursts between packing and dealing with the movers, I didn’t realized that the towers had fallen because they were still showing footage of the fires. A friend told me they were gone and I didn’t believe her. “No, no, I’m seeing them on TV right now. They’re burning but they’re still there.” And she said, very gently, “They’re gone.”

    It was a week before I could get a flight back to New York and it was an eerie experience. The terminals were mostly empty, except for military, and I remember the sound of my footsteps echoing as I walked to my gate. I sat by the window, and watched the country go by, following our progress on the map and identifying the lakes and cities as we flew over them, reassuring myself that it was all still there. I wasn’t really nervous until we flew over upstate New York, then Massachusetts and I kept expecting the plane to turn and head south towards New York and it didn’t. We flew over Boston, and out over the Atlantic and I was starting to have a major panic attack when the pilot announced that we’d been ordered to circle around and approach JFK from the east. I think he said “evasive action” or maybe that’s just the explanation my brain came up with.

    This is too long already, but it was a couple of months before they got the fires out, and whenever the wind blew from the south, we could smell them. They were lying to us, of course, about what we were breathing in, but the fire smelled like burning electronics and I knew it had to be full of toxins and carcinogens. The way I coped with it was telling myself that I was breathing in all the lost souls, and that was somehow comforting. I still think of them sometimes, eighteen years later, walking the streets of Manhattan in my bones.

    ReplyReply
  59. 59
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Darrin Ziliak (formerly glocksman): A bunch of my coworkers basically spent the whole day watching the same footage over and over (since nobody really knew much) on a TV in the break room. I decided I didn’t want to traumatize myself like that and tried to follow events through various blogs, which weren’t slammed like the news sites were. Read about the towers collapsing from a blogger who was watching from Brooklyn.

    There were wild rumors and confusion going around: at one point I remember trying to count the number of hijacked planes I’d heard about and getting eight. Also rumors of a car bombing at the State Department, completely false.

    I remember I actually got a tiny bit of work done: an engineer from a customer firm called with a banal technical question and I answered him.

    ReplyReply
  60. 60
    RedDirtGirl says:

    It had stormed the night before, and I woke up that morning in Brooklyn to what sounded like a clap of thunder. But the sky was crystal clear, and later I realized that what I had heard was the impact of the first plane hitting the WTC at 8:40 am. Dark times indeed.

    ReplyReply
  61. 61
    noname says:

    @arrieve: This was not too long, Thank you for this story. I spent a lot of time in the late 70s and early 80s in Greenwich Village. When I walk those same streets now I still sometimes see the Towers as an overlay on what has replaced them. I also think of those who were lost that day, in such violence and suddenness, and hope that they are at peace.

    ReplyReply
  62. 62
    Nelle says:

    @Alain: One of my friends is looking for volunteers to go to, I think, Bukavu in eastern DRC, to practice conversational English with students at a university there. If you’re interested, I can put you in touch with him. My daughter has been there and fell in love with the beauty there.

    ReplyReply
  63. 63
    TomatoQueen says:

    I had just moved from New Haven to Alexandria two weeks before, and was in the throes of settling into our new flat, 5 miles from the Pentagon. School requirements came first, so as A Lad is fed by feeding tube, I was required to provide an in-service training to school staff (as if they’d never done a tube feeding ever), before he could be in the classroom. As I was gathering up our gear to drive the 8 miles to school, there was an unusually loud roaring over our building, followed a few minutes later by the loudest explosion I’d ever heard, a noise from hell. There was no tv, and my audio system was only partially set up, so I was like so many without a source of news. As I was thinking to finish setting up the audio, a friend called and told me what he knew, so I had the choice of trying to reschedule the in service or going to school, which meant a plunge into traffic on roads that were still somewhat unfamiliar. I called school and to my surprise they were not planning to close at that point, so into traffic we went. And sat.
    It was a glorious day, really, a day borrowed from spring, the sky impossibly blue, but still the shock and uncertainty and fear made everything seem to flow in slow motion. Everyone’s windows were rolled down, and we all were listening to WTOP, the station that whatever else it does, still does the traffic. That morning it seemed WTOP was in charge of keeping everyone safe, and they did yeoman service, urging calm, and supporting Arlington’s Finest in asking everyone to stop gawking at the Pentagon exits because they were blocking responders. Eventually we crawled to school, did our in service tube-feeding demonstration, and met all the teachers and staff. A Lad’s principal was very calm and was of the opinion to continue life as normal as possible for the sake of the children and of course he was right. We drove home in blazing sunshine in heavy, but orderly traffic; I have yet to see drivers in this area as polite as they were that morning. I didn’t get tv hooked up for another year, so was dependent on WaPo’s brilliant, heart breaking coverage. Then came Anthrax.

    ReplyReply
  64. 64
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Matt McIrvin: What the fuck would he have done had he been alive in the 1930’s? Killed himself?

    If you do not fight for what is right and just, you are a useless human being.

    ReplyReply
  65. 65
    donnah says:

    It all comes back to me every year, even though I was far removed and not directly affected. But the emotions all come back.

    A friend who was traveling to NYC was in the World Trade Center the day before and when the planes hit the following day, he was with his daughter in New Jersey. September 11th was his birthday and he was always sorry to have that terrible day brought back on his birthday every year.

    I had dropped my sons off at school and was driving my husband to work when an announcement came over the radio about the first plane, which we dismissed as a terrible accident. I went on to my parent’s house and turned on TV to see the second plane crash. Overwhelmed by the scene, my mom, dad, and I watched in horror as the burning and crashing went on.

    I had the weirdest overwhelming need to go get my children. I was compelled to go get them out of school and have them with me. But I waited until school let out and when they came out of the building, I hugged each son tightly and took them home. It was maternal instinct, I suppose, and an irrational need to have them in my sight. But everything changed that day, and our reactions to it will stay with us forever.

    ReplyReply
  66. 66
    Nelle says:

    @arrieve: You captured, with poetic truth, the way we are woven into each other, as is life and death. Thank you.

    ReplyReply
  67. 67
    Original Lee says:

    @Raven: Exactly. So many of my explanations to my exchange student have included the phrase “because of 9/11”. This is not healthy for individuals or a nation. So many of my friends have told me they wish the U.S. could dial back the observance because they spend all day being triggered, or drunk, or high, or huddled in a dark room because it’s being shoved in their faces for several days before and after.

    ReplyReply
  68. 68
    Bookeater (formerly JosieJ) says:

    There’s a stretch where the F train to Manhattan goes elevated briefly before going back underground. Between the Fourth Avenue and Smith-9th Street stations, there’s a spectacular view of the skyline. I never got tired of looking at it.

    It was primary day, but I was running too late to vote before work, so I decided to go on in to the office. The train emerged at Fourth Avenue, I took my usual glance at the skyline. The buildings all stood out sharply against the crystalline blue sky. It was a gorgeous late summer day. The train went underground and by the time I emerged at 28th Street, the first plane had hit.

    The rest of the day was surreal, and I only remember bits and pieces: my best friend calling me to tell me the second plane had hit, which she witnessed from a south-facing conference room window. Checking in constantly on Table Talk (hi, fellow TTers). The office manager’s unearthly scream when Peter Jennings announced that the North tower had collapsed. The sirens from all quarters of the city. The people streaming uptown on foot, covered in dust and ash. The eerie silence on the subway back home. The plume of smoke rising from lower Manhattan, visible from my Brooklyn neighborhood. Sitting up all night with my cat on my lap and a bottle of vodka at my feet. Going in to work the next morning, because what else was there to do? The strange absence of commercial planes and the constant overflights of military planes.

    More clearly I remember the Bush administration’s constant—and ultimately successful— efforts to drum up a war with Iraq, and thinking “This won’t end well.” And it hasn’t.

    ReplyReply
  69. 69
    japa21 says:

    It is truly all about him. Can’t stand listening to him lie.

    ReplyReply
  70. 70
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    It’s completely gone down the memory hole that W completely disappeared for days and Cheney was issuing orders without Presidential authority.

    That is a very hard time for me to remember. I think I’m going to take a break for a few hours.

    ReplyReply
  71. 71
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Loomis does fight, that’s the thing. He fights even though he’s certain it’s hopeless and civilization is doomed. I’ve been trying to understand that for a while. It seems to be a combination that works for him.

    ReplyReply
  72. 72
    JPL says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym: I went for a walk. It helps.

    ReplyReply
  73. 73
    Original Lee says:

    @Cheryl from Maryland: Good. Glad I’m not the only one.

    ReplyReply
  74. 74
    Argiope says:

    I was post-call, having attended three births in the wee hours, and woke around 11 to hear my partner and my mom on my answering machine, so my initial impressions were bleary other than my husband’s voice saying ‘we are under attack’. What stays with me now, as a teacher of future healthcare providers, is the consistent narrative I’ve seen in their reflective writings about their biases against Muslims and how they were formed by the coverage of 9/11 they saw as kids and teens. Shrub did a lot of terrible things, but he tried to combat the impression that all of Islam was responsible. At least for some of my students, though, that message didn’t take–it couldn’t compete with the footage and their one and only contact with members of that faith. And that has implications now for how Muslim Americans may be treated by the healthcare system, because not every future clinician is encouraged to examine and work on their biases. Just one of so many spin-off harms that stay with us today.

    ReplyReply
  75. 75
    OGLiberal says:

    I was working near the Seaport at the time. Took the bus to work that day – arrived right before the first plane hit. My wife – who was not my wife at the time, or even my girlfriend – took the boat in from NJ. She came in and told me that it looked like a plane hit the WTC – her sweater was covered in small pieces of paper. Looked out the window from my desk, where I could see a sliver of the North tower through the narrow downtown streets and saw a strip of black. This was the East side of the building, not the impact side, so thought it was a small plane – earlier in the year I had been on the top floors of the North Tower (the ill-fated Cantor Fitzgerald trading floor, to be exact) and saw small planes flying well below the top of the building so made sense. The news soon told us otherwise. We couldn’t see the South tower but a bunch of my co-workers and I were looking out my window when the second plane hit. Just saw a huge fireball – we all drew back from the window, even though it was on the other side of island.

    My thoughts immediately went to Bin Laden. My Israeli co-worker agreed and I think we were the only people on the floor who knew who he was. When the first tower fell it felt like an earthquake. We thought a subway station had been blown up. Watched a 10-story or higher cloud of dust race East down the narrow streets towards our building with people running from it. Once it hit our building I couldn’t even see across the street. By the time the second tower fell we were like, “Yup, there goes the other one”. As the dust settled I looked out the East side of our building to see thousands of people walking up the FDR drive and across the Brooklyn Bridge. Once I made sure my (future) wife was on her way home – the boats to NJ started running again – I left with a co-worker on foot on my way back uptown. Met her boyfriend and other friends at a pub where there were a number of UK nationals. Bush was still in hiding but Tony Blair spoke and while he has many faults, it was re-assuring and drew cheers from the crowd.

    Later, as I made my way back to my Midtown appartment I spotted a cab near Union Square that was, amazingly, unoccupied. I flagged him, told him my address, he turned on the meter and I was home in minutes. I was shocked not only that I found a cab but that he just charged standard rates – this did not happen several years later during the blackout.

    The next week our office was closed and it was pretty weird for us NYC residents. But we tried to find normalcy as much as we could – meeting up for lunch, going to the local pub, everyday chores. The smell lingered in the air and was inescable but we carried on, unlike people in places that would never, ever be a target of such an attack, who lost their shit completely. The markets opened a week later and so did my office – no idea what kind of toxic stuff I inhaled in the months after but the wheels of capitalism must keep rolling.

    A friend from college died in the South tower. His wife was pregnant at the time. Still surprised I didn’t know any other victims, given where I worked and the industry I’m in. (financial services)

    The hole in the ground lingered for years but, for the most part, NYC got back to its normal, dysfunctional self pretty quickly. Can’t say the same for much of the rest of the country. But it’s still a day whose details I will likely always remember as if they happened yesterday.

    ReplyReply
  76. 76
    mrmoshpotato says:

    I remember the CTA constantly running trains north out of downtown as we watched the news. No one had any idea of what was going on, so the city was in the process of making downtown Chicago a ghost town in case a plane was hijacked and flown into the Sears Tower or Hancock.

    ReplyReply
  77. 77
    Original Lee says:

    @Alain: One of my neighbors was one of the anthrax victims. I don’t think his family would want to know this unless there was a conviction. They wish it didn’t keep popping up, but it does.

    ReplyReply
  78. 78
    Mesmer a la carte says:

    Alain, so moved by your eloquent remembrance. Each of us processed that day in different ways but to a person it seems like the biggest takeaway was that things were fundamentally different now.

    I was working at CBS News in Manhattan at the time and living in Rockland County. That morning I had driven to Long Beach to surf waves generated from Hurricane Erin. The surf was epic and classic late summer weather. We used the WTC as a position marker in the water and suddenly it was enveloped in smoke. Thought nothing more than that it was a fire on a trash barge in the East River. I took a break from the surf and someone ran up to me asking if I’d heard about the trade center and I thought I was going to hear a bad joke. Went to my car and turned on the radio to find out the unraveling horror. No one had the heart to go back into the water, and a lot of my fellow surfers were NYFD. One by one they left and reported for duty.

    I knew that CBS would be hopping with a major news event like this so quickly dressed and tried to drive into Manhattan. In a reverse of Alain’s experience, Manhattan was a fortified island that no one could get into. It took me 6 hours to get back to my home in Nyack, a drive that normally took an hour, all the while listening to the radio.

    The next day I drove into Manhattan over the GWB and was stunned to not see the WTC dominating the skyline from that vantage. They were simply gone. This was not possible. At CBS for the next several months we were churning out nightly documentary updates on the attacks, so I was drenched by default in the horror of it all.

    The one thing I hold dear to this day was the initial sense of brother and sisterhood in NYC, which lasted for about two weeks. All of us telling each other that we’re glad the other was still alive.

    ReplyReply
  79. 79
    Kay says:

    @Argiope:

    Just one of so many spin-off harms that stay with us today.

    That’s how it is for me, too. Nothing good that lasts came out of it. It could have but it didn’t. The sense of togetherness evaporated almost immediately and all the bad actions and consequences are still with us.

    ReplyReply
  80. 80
    Dave says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    It’s what I find most frustrating about LGM. The hopelessness and parallel thought that anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool. It’s self fulfilling. And undermines what is often worthwhile content. Voter suppression has been a problem for a while. Awareness of it is growing including pushback. It’s not like NC for instance has been a bastion of voters rights until recently and now it’s bad. It’s that there is more awareness of it. I don’t get the point of the attitude that is fairly prevalent at LGM (and again I like a fair bit of their content but don’t go there often because of the smug hopelessness). If you you really think it’s hopeless then why bother? Why make yourself nuts worrying about it?

    Sometimes I think it’s an overcorrection it’s easy to be complacent and underestimate challenged so people overcorrect and paint those challenges and in this case the undemocratic American right as an unstoppable juggernaut. Though I’m sure there is more to it than that.

    ReplyReply
  81. 81
    CaseyL says:

    I think the Bush Admin did have advance warning – not of the full scope of what was planned, but that there would be a major hijacking. I think they let it happen, thinking it would be an ordinary hijacking they could use to push their foreign policy preferences. I think, when they realized what was really going on, their one main goal was to cover their tracks.

    And I think the GOP descent into madness began as a frantic coverup operation to avoid full disclosure ever happening.

    ReplyReply
  82. 82
    Dave says:

    @Matt McIrvin: That’s fair and it’s what I don’t get about him. Well I do get it the hopeless last stand etc it just doesn’t feel like it translates to the sort of ongoing activity that Loomis engages in. And I’m fairly confident that it’s counterproductive but then again I’m just some asshole on the internet doing less than he does.

    ReplyReply
  83. 83
    Miss Bianca says:

    I remember…

    I had just started my job managing the literacy program for the Delta County (CO) library system. That morning I was scheduled for my first meeting with our first collaborative partner, the VISION program (an indy charter school that ended up becoming part of the school district). The clock radio woke me up at 8, and the first thing I remember thinking was, “that’s weird – why is the news still on?” because at 8 am the programming at our local community station switched over from NPR to music. But the news voices were still babbling, something about towers and fires. In my sleep-addled state,the only thing I could think of was that some grain silos outside Delta had blown up, and I was wondering how NPR knew about it, or whether this was some kind of local coverage.

    Can’t remember how long it took for me to figure out what had actually happened, but pretty sure I knew by the time my lead teacher and I and the director of the VISION program were all sitting on the couch at the school, stiffly and stiltedly carrying on with the plans for our collaboration – because we couldn’t think of anything else to do except carry on, I guess. I remember there was no one else there, tho’.

    And I remember the next few nights scanning the skies, seeing the millions of twinkling lights I was by then used to – very dark skies in rural CO. But no flashing ones, no planes flying overhead – which somehow seemed even more unsettling to me than the repeated images of the Towers falling on the TV – which I early on decided I could not take. I simply could not glue myself to the TV. Listening to NPR was hard enough.

    ReplyReply
  84. 84
    Kay says:

    @Dave:

    The hopelessness and parallel thought that anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool.

    I never thought it was real cynicism, because it’s a common “type” in liberal politics all the way down the local level. What they really are is very hopeful people who get their hearts set on things and can’t really deal with disappointment so adopt the smugness as kind of a shield. It’s loss avoidance. They don’t want to be disappointed again. That’s why he keeps fighting. He doesn’t really believe it’s hopeless. I’ve come around to just accepting them as a part of the group because I think it comes from a good place, although IMO it’s misguided and also crazy-making :)

    ReplyReply
  85. 85
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Dave: My paternal grandfather was arrested and imprisoned four times, for varying periods, because he was fighting for what was right. I never had the opportunity to know him, but can only imagine his reaction to such learned hopelessness. His great-grandson is now an elected official in the country whose independence my grandfather was fighting for. Sometimes you have to be in it for the (very) long haul.

    ReplyReply
  86. 86
    Dave says:

    @Kay: And honestly I know that; was venting a bit because I selfishly find that rhetoric in posts to be depressing but I know the type some of the best people I’ve known are the type; I worry what pact it has on others but thats a quibble. So I was little knee jerk because when I read his post, and the comments, it was something I had felt.

    ReplyReply
  87. 87

    @Gin & Tonic: Couldn’t agree more. You fight and give it your all. And not keep dwelling about the success or failure of your actions. That leads to inaction and paralysis.
    ETA: If we only did those things for which success was guaranteed we would achieve nothing.

    ReplyReply
  88. 88
    Kay says:

    @Gin & Tonic: @Gin & Tonic:

    I don’t read LGM but the hopelessness around voter suppression is just incorrect. There wasn’t even mainstream media (including liberal media) acceptance that modern voter suppression was happening and how it was happening until about 2012. I did posts here on voter ID and I got “what’s the problem?” comments. Red states have been energetically suppressing, that is true, but blue states have been equally active in the opposite direction and the news reporting is much better. It’s accurate now, where before it was uninformed on how voting systems work and often downright dumb.

    The biggest negative now that can’t be undone is federal courts. That’s a big problem. But maybe, perhaps, liberals and Democrats should get their head out of their asses and start voting based ON APPOINTING FEDERAL JUDGES. They don’t even need to understand voting systems and the interaction between state and federal laws to do that.

    ReplyReply
  89. 89
    Kay says:

    @Dave:

    Oh, I get it. I feel the same way. In the 2004 election I had the grown children of one our local activists ask me to stop inviting him to political events because they were worried about him- how obsessed and hopeless he was becoming. I didn’t stop inviting him- he’s a grown man and he can make his own decisions- but he’s a great person. He just hopes too much :)

    He was despairing when Bush won re-elect and then over the moon with Obama and now he’s despairing again with Trump. I don’t see this person changing at this point.

    ReplyReply
  90. 90
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Cacti:

    To this day, I remain certain that 9/11 would not have happened under Al Gore’s watch. Not that it would have saved him from being impeached because of that one time he called a donor and used the wrong phone.

    ReplyReply
  91. 91
    SWMBO says:

    I had just dropped off my son at his school. My husband called me on the cell phone and said,”We’re at war.” “With who/” “I don’t know but we’re at war.” He was right.

    Our daughter was in college at UCF and she and her boyfriend had gone to work that morning at the college bookstore. She called tearful and scared. They were all huddled in front of the tv in the coffee shop. She said no one got anything done and it was so quiet.

    We found out later that a friend of ours mother had died and he was on a plane out of DC to take his mother’s ashes to Wisconsin to bury her in the family plot. They got to Chicago and he couldn’t turn around the next day to get back to DC to work. Mutual friends of ours put him up (there was no place to stay–all rooms were booked.) He finally got home about a week later. Said he was glad his mother had passed because he didn’t think he could have explained it to her.

    My cousin had friends working in one of the buildings who didn’t make it. I don’t think she’s flown since then.

    We have a friend who is a sports writer who lost it that day. Was in NY covering (I think) a baseball game. Never has been the same. Can’t get quite all the way past it.

    ReplyReply
  92. 92
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    To be fair, as bad as Hitler and Stalin were, they never intentionally pursued policies that could exterminate all human life on the planet the way Republicans do. I don’t expect to have drinkable water in much of the nation within 10 years.

    ReplyReply
  93. 93
    Renie says:

    I was at our local market when a friend told me she heard a plane hit one of the towers. My husband worked one block north of the towers. I tried calling him but no cell service. I drove home and saw on the tv what was happening and there was a voice mail on our answering machine from my husband saying he was okay and that all employees were told to stay inside. He had heard the first plane roar overhead cuz it was so low and a bunch of them went to that side of the building to look out. They could see flames and then bodies falling. Once the 2nd plane hit, he decided along with others to get out of the building. He was one of those people you saw running with clouds of debris behind them. He walked north to a co-worker’s place and eventually got home at 8pm still with dust on his clothes. I had 2 kids in school. One was in 2nd grade but my son was in 7th and I knew he would hear from other kids what happened. He knew where his father worked (and had been in WTC) so I took him out of school. We could hear the jets flying overhead that day. Very eerie. It took years before my husband stopped having daily thoughts of what he saw. IMO Our country changed forever that day and not for the better.

    ReplyReply
  94. 94
    Yarrow says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    Saw this yesterday. Striking image in the photo.

    Striking image of Archbishop of Canterbury at site of the Amritsar massacre.

    He expressed his "profound shame" at the actions of British troops in 1919 and said he recognises "the sins of my British colonial history". pic.twitter.com/cSsVVaS4ZF
    — Kaya Burgess (@kayaburgess) September 10, 2019

    ReplyReply
  95. 95
    Citizen Alan says:

    My clearest memory of 9/11 is standing in a conference room that was the only room in the building with a TV and a cable connection, acutely aware of the fact that I was the only liberal present. I remember one old biddy ghoulishly pronouncing “and there shall be wars and rumors of wars” as if that had not been the case every day since the dawn of Man. And then some one else said “this must be what it was like when Pearl Harbor was attacked.”

    And the thought which immediately came to mind but thankfully not to my lips was “No, this is not Pearl Harbor. This is the Reichstag Fire. This is the single act of stupid violence that is going to make every other act of stupid violence possible going forward.”

    ReplyReply
  96. 96
    trollhattan says:

    @CaseyL:
    Yeah, and Condi has been poking her head up on teevee lately. “Am I rehabilitated, yet?”

    “Bin Laden determined to strike in US”

    No

    ReplyReply
  97. 97
    germy says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    And there’s this idiot:

    If the Dem leadership, whether by action or inaction, fails to bring impeachment to a vote by a year from now, millions of furious Dems will feel betrayed, announce "a plague on both your houses," and cause election turnout to plummet. I won't blame them and might join them. 1/ https://t.co/NRkqJBVw1t— Ellis Weiner (@EllisWeiner) September 11, 2019

    ReplyReply
  98. 98
    FelonyGovt says:

    I was home in LA, came downstairs to watch on TV. Horror and disbelief, especially since we’re from NYC and I had worked on the North Tower of the WTC in the 70’s. Our cat threw up for the first time, evidently sensing our tension. It was my daughter’s second day of high school.

    ReplyReply
  99. 99
    cmorenc says:

    Had Al Gore had sufficient undisputed votes in 2000 to narrowly beat Bush instead of the other way round, imagine the shitstorm the GOP would have hurled at Gore for being totally at fault for the 9/11 attacks for every possible reason – inattentive, encouraging terrorism via weakness, and so on. The very things that were OKIYAR for George W Bush.

    However, Gore would have made Afghanistan a quick surgical operation and we would never have invaded Iraq because of macho and daddy issues.

    ReplyReply
  100. 100
    Another Scott says:

    Thanks Alain.

    I woke up late that morning in NoVA and was listening to NPR reports on what was happening in NYC. I looked outside to see that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky in NoVA nor in the pictures from NYC, so it was clear to me that it wasn’t an accident.

    I remember the confused reporting about what was happening at the Pentagon. Even reporters in the building weren’t sure what had happened for many tens of minutes.

    I work in DC. I could look across the river and see and smell all the smoke from the fire at the Pentagon. It took them 3 days to put it out completely (and a month to put out the fires at the WTC, IIRC). I was at work about 15 minutes when we were told to go home. Of course, the rest of the city was trying to leave at the same time, so it took something like 4 hours to actually get home…

    A couple of days later, I learned that a neighbor had died at the Pentagon.

    I had a feeling of dread about how we were going to react… :-(

    Here’s hoping that we, sometime soon, start getting back to something approaching a pre-9/11 normal sometime soon. One of the good things about Amazon HQ2 in the area is that he’s requesting that a heliport be reopened, so governments are being forced to think about loosening restrictions on civil aviation, etc. that were obvious over-reactions to what happened. (Whether one likes the idea of helicopters ferrying corporate bigwigs around or not, shutting them down quasi-permanently in reaction to 9/11 didn’t make any sense.)

    Condolences to everyone who has very painful memories about this date.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

    ReplyReply
  101. 101
    Timurid says:

    I was off that day so I slept in. As I was getting out of the shower, my phone rang. It was my mother. “We’re under attack! They’ve hit New York and Washington. Turn on your TV now.” *click* I could barely walk over to the TV in the living room. My legs were shaking so hard I had to steer by pushing myself off the walls. Because I had grown up in the Cold War, and I made the obvious assumption about what kind of attack this was. When I finally got the TV on and saw a picture of the burning World Trade Center, I was relieved. Something was obviously messed up, but it was not a mushroom cloud.

    ReplyReply
  102. 102
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Kay: Nobody wants to be the chump who makes Pollyanna predictions and is wrong. If you predict doom and you’re wrong, well, there’s always more chances for doom down the line. The 2016 election triggered another round of this.

    ReplyReply
  103. 103
    PJ says:

    @cmorenc: Why do you think Gore would have ignored the reports given to Bush that Bin Laden was planning an attack? He was a part of the Clinton Administration, which took the threat of Bin Laden seriously.

    ReplyReply
  104. 104
    Yarrow says:

    @trollhattan: She was on the Today Show this morning. I saw about ten seconds of it–enough to hear the interviewer ask what if the Russians did impact the 2016 election in states like Michigan and Wisconsin. Condi said we shouldn’t even talk about that because it negated all those people in those states who did vote for Trump.

    Yeah, don’t you worry your pretty little heads about Russian interference in our elections. How dare we talk about something like that. She can go back to whatever hole she’s hiding in. Apparently she had a book to sell. Of course she did.

    ReplyReply
  105. 105
    Served says:

    I was in high school. Everything stopped, we spent the rest of the week basically having therapy sessions in different classes. All of the boys started mentally and vocally preparing for war soon after. As a descendant of mennonites, I prepared for a crisis of conscience in the face of a draft and then took a two-year journey as a Fox News viewer that snapped to an end with the obvious f*ckery leading up to Iraq.

    ReplyReply
  106. 106
    PlaneCrazy says:

    I was in Houston doing some computer consulting for BP (British Petroleum). I was staying at the Omni and went down to breakfast in their big lobby. There was a huge screen TV in the bar that was on. They normally had news on in the morning for the business folks and I got down there right after the first tower had been hit. I ate my breakfast quickly and watched for a short time, but figured I had better get to the office which was only a few minutes away.

    At the office, we sat by the Natural Gas Liquids trading desk and they had all of their TV’s on switched to different news channels. I saw the second tower get hit, and as soon as that happened, we knew it was not an ordinary accident. Soon after they shut down the building and evacuated everyone. BP had all kinds of emergency procedures going, and they were afraid that the huge Texas City refinery complex not that many miles away, may also be a target. (a plain flying into that would have caused an explosion you could have seen in Louisiana)

    Spent the rest of the day in my hotel room watching TV and talking to my wife on the phone. Fortunately, I had a rental car, and so I told (not asked) the rental car company that I was driving it home. I went to the hotel gift shop and bought the only US road atlas they had. The next day I drove from Houston to Michigan in two 16-hour days. There was an extreme urge to get home, to be with family and in a “safe” place. We all felt it. One of my colleagues lived in NJ and was Pakistani. He was stuck in Houston for several days before he could get a car, and he later said that that solo drive across the eastern part of the US as a Pakistani, right after Sept. 11, was not something he’d ever want to do again.

    My drive was fairly uneventful. I listened to the radio the whole way home and never heard any music. I listened to NPR when I could find it, local call-in talk radio in Mississippi and Tennessee when I couldn’t. (that was an experience) The nice lady at the Mississippi Welcome Center where I stopped to get a state map (remember when you could do that?) told me that these were the end times, and was completely baffled when I told her I lived next to the largest Arab population in the world outside of the Middle East (Dearborn) and felt completely safe there. She also couldn’t believe that there were Christian Arabs either. It was already starting and it was only Sept. 12.

    I returned the car to the airport on September 14th. It was eerie to be in a completely silent and empty Detroit airport in the middle of the day. Almost like some post-apocalyptic movie.

    I purchased a copy of a book/DVD put out by CBS news, I think on the first anniversary called “What We Saw”. I’ve not yet opened it, let alone watched the DVD. @Mesmer a la carte I think I might well do that tonight and share it with my 14-year-old son, and think of you.

    ReplyReply
  107. 107
    Topclimber says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I was at home on Long Island prepping for an appointment next day at a Wall Street building two blocks from WTC. My first reaction was anger at the hijackers then quickly anger at how the right wing had their pretext for oil grabs and war games.

    Third reaction was unconcious denial as I told myself to finish arrangements for a business trip to Vegas that weekend.

    The next two days I got my niece out of NYU and home with us. She had wandered lower Manhattan taking pictures of the devastation. Three days of TLC and Schnauzer therapy helped her but s few months later we were moving her out of NYU.

    My other task was outreach to my sister in law in Brooklyn. Weeks of smelling the toxic remains across the Bay and Fox et. al. Propaganda turned her into a rwnj.

    ReplyReply
  108. 108
    Amir Khalid says:

    There was a Sheraton hotel in one of the Twin Towers, and I’ve just remembered that I stayed there once: IBM put up a bunch of us tech journos from Asia for a couple of nights in the hotel, before taking us to see their Poughkeepsie facility and the research they were doing with Cornell University.

    ReplyReply
  109. 109
    Kay says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Too, if you read on the online Right they have this too – there’s lots of grousing – “we never win! Our politicians don’t fight!”

    There were a substantial number of them who thought Obama was stomping all over their side.

    ReplyReply
  110. 110
    Mike in NC says:

    Every year now when 9/11 rolls around you see right-wingers and their “never forget” signs. I wonder what their point is. Fear and hate, I guess.

    After 9/11 Republicans decided it was a good time to mobilize for a permanent state of war. We’re still bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. I cringe at the thought of the neo-cons starting a war with Iran and/or North Korea. Our military budget has doubled since 9/11 and will double again if all we know is fear and hate.

    A corrupt lunatic in Manhattan boasted that his building was the tallest after the WTC towers went down. He claimed that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey were dancing in the streets and people believed him. This same lunatic is setting himself up to be dictator for life and his followers have no problem with that. 9/11 was the beginning of the end of democracy in this country.

    ReplyReply
  111. 111
    Baud says:

    @Kay:

    I think a lot of us feel that our side’s negativity has a bigger impact on election turnout and movement building than their side’s does. I don’t know whether there’s hard evidence to back that up.

    ReplyReply
  112. 112
    randy khan says:

    Because this is BJ, I’ll start off by mentioning that the reason nobody could make cell phone calls in Manhattan was not because the antennas on top of the WTC were gone – those were TV antennas; cell phone antennas, even then, were much lower and covered much less territory than you’d cover from on top of one of the world’s tallest buildings – but because the network was totally overwhelmed when everyone started calling everyone else at once. The same thing happened in DC – I tried to call my wife from my car and never did get through. There was a telephone switch taken out by the collapse, but it served only wired customers, as the wired and wireless networks were separate.

    And that’s a good segue to my story, which I probably retell every year.

    I was running a bit late to work, listening to WTOP on the radio, and heard the first report of a small plane hitting the Trade Center while I was going towards National Airport. Then the second plane hit, and when I heard the report, I said, out loud, the same thing everyone else thought: “It’s terrorists.”

    My usual route to work in those days took me past the Pentagon, but traffic was so bad on the George Washington Parkway that I decided to take the 14th Street Bridge and come to my office from the east. If I’d stayed on parkway, I’d have been facing directly towards the route of the plane that hit the Pentagon, but since I was crossing the Potomac instead, I missed it. I am very grateful for that. But after you cross the Potomac, the road curves to the left, and there was a huge plume of dark smoke rising from the Pentagon, and it was impossible to miss.

    I think it took me another 45 minutes to get to my office. There were a bunch of TVs on, and almost no work was getting done. I saw the first tower go down and said to somebody that 10,000 people had just died. (I didn’t realize that nearly everybody below the levels where the planes hit got out, thanks to a decision after the 1994 bombing to rethink the evacuation plan – and the people who did that are unsung heroes, because in the end they saved thousands of lives.) Oddly, almost nobody left.

    At some point in the middle of the afternoon, somebody noticed a truck in front of our building. In a strange bit of senseless paranoia, we all were told to move to the far side of building, as if that somehow would protect us if a truck bomb went off. Slightly more sensible paranoia eventually prevailed and we were told to evacuate. (It was still paranoia, since there was no reason a random office building not even in downtown would have been targeted.) We weren’t allowed to take our cars out of the underground garage, so I walked to Metro, which by that point was running. I took the Blue Line, which has a station in the Pentagon; the train just went straight through it, and of course there was nobody there, so it was like a ghost station.

    We were supposed to have a ceiling light installed that day, but the electrician and my wife spent most of the day watching the news. When I got home, I asked my wife to turn it off. I’d already seen those images too many times and I just didn’t want to see them again.

    But, honestly, the most surreal part of the whole thing was the next morning. Since my car was stuck at the office, I took Metro. Others have commented on this, but walking from Metro to my office it felt like I was in a different country. There were soldiers literally on every corner, something I’d never even seen abroad, and certainly had never seen in the U.S. As much as anything, that told me how much had changed in just a few hours the day before.

    ReplyReply
  113. 113
    Barbara says:

    I do remember where I was and what I was doing and I have friends and relatives whose lives were changed dramatically, but I no longer like to reminisce about it. I simply cannot overcome the sense of anger I have about how quickly 9/11 opportunism hijacked our national discourse and welfare. For me, that has long overshadowed whatever else happened.

    ReplyReply
  114. 114
    Kay says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    To me the idea that they’re “cynics” falls apart because they’re not very hard headed about these things. If the D loses by one or wins by one that difference just doesn’t matter that much. It “means” the same thing. It means it was 50/50. Republicans will say “awesome win!” but they know that’s not true and them saying it doesn’t change it from R+1.

    ReplyReply
  115. 115
    J R in WV says:

    I was at work that morning, and not long after I got there my boss came in and said “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center!” and I asked, “You mean like the Cessna that accidentally flew into that skyscraper not long ago?” and he said “I don’t know!”

    A co worker had one of those tiny 9″ B&W TVs in his cube and had hooked it up and turned it on, it was a tiny cube and a lot of us were crowded in there amazed and horrified. Then the second plane flew by and hit the second tower.

    I left for home not long after. At the time I was paid to think, and there was not going to be any of that that that day. And I had lots of time off booked.

    Bush loved Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, and held his hand and strolled up to the ranch house with him, hand in hand, on network video. That was the most bizarre thing I have ever seen in my whole life — Bush, holding hands with the Prince of the nation that attacked us, looking like lovers. So strange, and so prophetic.

    I will always believe that we attacked Iraq in order to distract America from the fact that we were attacked by the Saudis, and for no other reason.

    Thanks, Alain, for your memories.

    I still get choked up every year this time. And here in the rolling hills of WV, it is as clear as a bell today, blue skies, again this year, just like it was that day. It’s so dry here that many trees are turning brown and losing their leaves from the drought… kind of a metaphor of recent history.

    ReplyReply
  116. 116
    Mike in NC says:

    @Yarrow: Rice, Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, Giuliani and many others got rich off of 9/11 and all got away with it.

    ReplyReply
  117. 117
    Spanky says:

    @TomatoQueen:

    It was a glorious day, really, a day borrowed from spring, the sky impossibly blue,

    That it was. I was working at one of the large Federal institutions between Baltimore and Washington. Once someone heard that a plane had hit the WTC, we rigged up the TV/VCR combo we used for training with rabbit ears and watched as best we could. After the second tower fell and it seemed there was nothing more to say or do, I wandered outside to clear my head.

    The brilliant blue sky should have been busy with planes – at altitude cruising the northeast corridor, planes on final approach to BWI, planes maneuvering around the traffic to approach Dulles. Instead, there was nothing but brilliant blue sky.

    And far overhead, a solitary F-16, searching for incoming traffic.

    ReplyReply
  118. 118
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    My experience was getting on the freeway and tuning into NPR to get the news to laugh at the stock market and someone babling “the tops of the buildings are down” and thinking this must have a big earth quake in LA and being infuriated that all news was all this emotional crap . Took while to find out it was NYC and a terrorist attack.

    The other bit that stood out in my mind was that night on the form I was on these Dutch twats were harping on about how America deserved this because we are awful imperialist (I guess it’s impolite to talk about Indonesia in Holland). Only months later they admitted that they utterly horrified that the passengers on that United flight rebelled against the hijackers. These Dutch guys just couldn’t imagine not following orders. That pretty much was when I decided as bad as America can get, the rest of the world is filled with luzers.

    ReplyReply
  119. 119
    Kay says:

    @Mike in NC:

    The security profiteering by all of them really is disgusting, especially Giuliani because he was so lauded after the event.

    It’s repulsive. He’s a goddamned ghoul and he gets worse every year. This person is corrupt. He shouldn’t be the symbol of anything other than personal profiteering off disaster.

    ReplyReply
  120. 120
    Yarrow says:

    I think we could use another thread. The Scottish appeal court just ruled that the prorogation of Parliament is illegal.

    Court has ruled that Boris Johnson misled the Queen. “The PMs advice to HM the queen was unlawful”— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) September 11, 2019

    ReplyReply
  121. 121
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Amir Khalid: Were you picking your toes in Poughkeepsie?

    ReplyReply
  122. 122
    Yarrow says:

    @Kay: Let’s also remember that Giuliani’s company did the clean up of the anthrax attack on American Media Inc. (AMI), which publishes the National Enquirer. Link.

    Workers began pumping a potent chemical into the former headquarters of a supermarket tabloid Sunday to clean up the first target in a series of deadly anthrax attacks in 2001.

    The cleanup is being led by BioONE, a company established by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Sabre Technical Services, which decontaminated other buildings hit by anthrax attacks.

    “It will be a symbol that we can deal with these new risks that we live with in our new world,” Giuliani said.

    After a call of “Let’s go” from Giuliani, workers started the flow of chlorine dioxide, a chemical used to disinfect drinking water, into the American Media Inc. building to kill the spores. A high concentration of the chemical is kept in the sealed building for 12 hours to be effective.

    The attack shut down the building and Giuliani’s company got to go in and clean it up. Was there anything of note in those vaults that “became available” to Giuliani during the clean up?

    ReplyReply
  123. 123
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    Is that what one does there? I just stayed with the toes that I had to begin with.

    ReplyReply
  124. 124
    LivinginExile says:

    @Cacti: Richard Clarke, who was Clinton’s counter terrorism czar, was still in that position after Bush was installed. After reading his book it seems quite likely if Gore had been President 911 might not have happened.

    ReplyReply
  125. 125
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Amir Khalid: Sorry, my mistake. Feet, not toes.

    ReplyReply
  126. 126

    @PlaneCrazy: I was working in the BP offices in downtown Los Angeles back then, but I had taken vacation days from Sept. 3-11 for a trip to Hawaii. We returned to LAX from HON the evening of Sept 10.

    ReplyReply
  127. 127
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yarrow: Fuck her. What about the people who were prevented from fucking voting?! Negating Trump voters, my pale white ass.

    I actually believe in democracy. I am okay with losing a fair election. If that happens, it means one of two things. One, my side didn’t run a good campaign – bad candidate, poor messaging, etc. Two, we ran a good campaign and the other side still proved more popular than mine. I can live with that. What I really can’t live with is knowing that my vote and the votes of everyone who voted as I did would have been enough if there had been no vote suppression.* That still pisses me off every day.

    *No, I do not believe that vote counts or voting machines in Wisconsin were tampered with.

    ReplyReply
  128. 128
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    No, and I’m glad I didn’t. I had no idea that picking your feet in Poughkeepsie is so illegal that the New York cops will bust your ass for doing it.

    ReplyReply
  129. 129
    Nicole says:

    Reading these memories, and how Bush, et al, responded to the day reminded me of something I’d forgotten- my job had arranged to send me and the 3 other supervisors of our department to a conference in London ten days after 9/11. One of the employees we supervised, who was starting their second summer with us, was REALLY resentful that the 4 supervisors (all of whom had been there for 5+ years) were being sent and they were not. They made comments about it all summer long; it was a thing. Why they thought they should be bumped ahead of supervisors, and even other rank-and-file employees who had been there longer, I don’t know. Anyway, after 9/11, a few days before we were set to depart, they went to have a meeting with our boss, to complain that it was really unfair to still send the supervisors to London because 9/11 had been very traumatizing and that “all of us” (the employees we supervised) needed the comfort of having us on site during such an emotionally difficult time.

    The curator of our department thanked them for sharing, sent us off to London anyway (that was a white-knuckle flight for me, ten days after 9/11. I’m glad I did it because I think if I hadn’t I might have become too frightened to fly again ever), and everything was fine. But it does make me think about how, even in the wake of horrible tragedy, there are those who quickly try to figure out how to spin it to their own advantage, in ways both large and petty.

    ReplyReply
  130. 130
    Kay says:

    @Yarrow:

    I can’t get into him. There are people on the Right I just find too repulsive even to deal with and he’s one of them. I don’t want to delve into the details of his gross life :)

    There’s a lot of them.You gotta pick and choose or you’ll end up like the despairers :)

    ReplyReply
  131. 131
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    I was at home in Paris – came home early (3 pm) to watch the Vuelta a Espana stage, turned on the TV, and saw the second plane crash into the tower. I watched for a few minutes with escalating dismay, then called my coworkers at the UN to tell them what happened. I heard later that I had been so upset and incoherent they thought there was something wrong with me and debated calling my apartment manager to check on me. Eventually my husband came home and I think we watched TV and tried to call home all night.

    I will never forget watching people jumping – I think American TV coverage cut away, but French news didn’t. Nightmarish.

    I will never forget Tom, Calvin, and Doug, classmates and friends.

    ReplyReply
  132. 132
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Mike in NC: Bush had 90% job approval on September 12th. When the right says “never forget”, what they mean is, re-traumatize yourself so you’re back in a pliable mindset. It’s a call to auto-propaganda. Not a call to remember anything inconvenient.

    ReplyReply
  133. 133
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    One more thing – we had dinner last night with a friend whose second child was born on 9/11 and turns 18 today. Our evening of conversation was blissfully free of 9/11 memories and focused on his and his sister’s accomplishments and hopes. Time really does heal.

    ReplyReply
  134. 134
    R-Jud says:

    @mrmoshpotato: I was also in Chicago, a week into my first year with Teach For America down on the South Side. Just before the morning bell, my advisor came into my classroom to drop something off and said, “Some damn fool just crashed a plane into the World Trade Center.”

    I assumed she meant it was a smaller plane. I thought that was terrible, but put it out of my mind as the school day had started. About 10:00 a letter came around from the principal’s office: “Due to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, parents may come to collect their children for early dismissal.” No further explanation. Parents began to show up. They had such grim faces that I didn’t want to ask for details. I went on teaching.

    I wasn’t able to get any break until 1:00 PM, which is when I was able to see a little bit of a news report on TV. For the rest of the day, as my classroom emptied out and as I took the long walk up State Street to the Loop to get a train home, I repeatedly called one of my best friends from college who lived in Jersey City and had recently started working in the South Tower (we were in the class of 2001; I’d last seen her about a month earlier while at TFA bootcamp in NYC).

    For hours there was nothing, just the “we’re sorry, your call could not be completed” message. Then around 7 PM her voicemail picked up: “This is Rachel. It’s September 11, 2001, and I am safe.” About two days later she sent a mass e-mail with her story. She’d been running late that day. As she crossed the river on the ferry she watched the whole thing unfold in front of her.

    My first-graders were on edge for months after that. About a third of them had parents who worked in the Loop; another third had parents who worked at Midway Airport. They were all terrified that mom or dad wouldn’t come home. They wanted to talk about the pictures they’d seen on the front page of the paper or the footage on the news, they wanted to understand. There wasn’t a lot I could tell them.

    ReplyReply
  135. 135
    cmorenc says:

    @PJ: i agree that had gore been president, he would have been far more seriously attentive to available pre-9/11 intelligence and far more likely to undertake preemptive measures against the threat. However, recall that there were structural issues inhibiting effective communication of key information among various intelligence and law enforcement agencies that would have handicapped even an attentive, proactively inclined president’s chances of effectively heading off al quedas efforts to mount either the 9/11 attack or some terrorist spectacle on us soul. So yes the chances that gore could have would have effectively preempted the 9/11 attack were far better than with bush, but no guarantee and the gop would have thrown a shitfest at gote if al queda had pulled off even a more modest terrorist spectacle of some sort om us soil

    ReplyReply
  136. 136
    Chyron HR says:

    @cmorenc:

    I love how it’s taken for granted that if the worst terrorist attack in American history happened when the Democrats were in the White House, it would be the downfall of the party rather than cementing their power for years to come.

    I mean, it’s TRUE, but it’s still funny in a sardonic way.

    ReplyReply
  137. 137

    @cmorenc: Do remember that Bush’s reaction to the August PDB about bin Laden was “OK, you covered your ass”.

    ReplyReply
  138. 138
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Kay: Bringing it back to 9/11, I personally get these feelings a lot like Alain did, that up to that point Western civilization was making real progress, and since then, it’s just been shit. Hate and fear trumping everything, dulling even the political victories. I remember how disappointed people were that Obama didn’t really dismantle Bush’s heavy-handed anti-terrorism apparatus– that to some extent he couldn’t even if he wanted to, and he clearly wasn’t going to torpedo his own Presidency by going hard on it. (And we’re paying the price now, the whole thing being deployed against refugees and our neighbors who had jack to do with terrorism.)

    But here’s the thing: you ask boomers and they’ll tell you the JFK assassination was when it all went to shit. Or MLK, or RFK, or Altamont, or whatever. For their parents it was 1929 or Pearl Harbor. Every generation has its own.

    ReplyReply
  139. 139
    opiejeanne says:

    We were living in an apartment in Buena Park, about a mile north of Knott’s Berry Farm, waiting for escrow to close on the house we were buying. I don’t remember why I was up so very early, maybe to eat breakfast with mr opiejeanne. We had lived apart for a month while he finished his job in Hayward, CA, and had just moved in with me for his new job in Torrance, so that’s the only reason I can think of that I was up so early.
    My memory is jumbled, but I remember I was still in my pajamas when I logged onto a forum and was startled by a strange essay by an older man we considered to be a troll. He was nearly hysterical about all the poor people dead at the WTC, and the thought that came to my mind was that this was an old post that had resurfaced for some reason, that it was about the 1993 bombing.
    It was about 6am when I realized it was something current and flipped on the tv. My first memory, which may be entirely wrong, is of the second plane hitting the other tower. I watched that happen (or maybe it was being replayed, but it felt immediate) and realized I had to wait an hour to call mr opiejeanne because he couldn’t have made it to work yet and didn’t have a cell phone. When I did get through, he had just found out.
    We had already planned to go to lunch that day, and the drive was strange. Few cars on the road but the McDonald’s near our place had cars in line, backed up onto Beach Blvd. I didn’t understand until I got to Torrance and we started looking for a place to eat. Every place was closed except for some fast food joint, don’t remember which one. Near the Del Amo mall.
    The way I drove to Torrance took me through a munitions storage area in Long Beach. I can’t find it on a map now, but it was rows and rows of earth-covered bunkers in a wasteland of dry dead weeds. I thought about that as a target as I drove home, I thought about other possible targets. I was still numb, not sure if I should be scared or not, didn’t know how to react. Watched the news to try to take it in and wondered why I didn’t feel anything. It was surreal. I think now that I was in shock.

    My youngest called and told me that Cal State Long Beach was being evacuated and everyone sent home, off campus, away from Long Beach, as far as possible. Kids were urged to take classmates home with them, the ones whose families lived far away. She told me it was because of the proximity of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station.

    The planes didn’t fly for a week, and the silence was eerie. Traffic was light all week. Our mortgage broker was on his honeymoon in Hawaii and was supposed to head home on the 12th, but this was not serendipity because the new guests were still arriving from outside the US and hotel rooms became scarce. I think they slept in a rental car the last night.

    We had tickets to Seattle from Santa Ana (John Wayne), for the first day flights resumed, made weeks in advance to visit our middle child. Our youngest begged us not to get on the plane but we assured her we’d be fine. We got to the airport two hours early, there were armed soldiers everywhere which was unsettling, and our gate was packed. The gate was also being used by a flight to Portland that was to leave 20 minutes before ours, but many passengers from earlier flights all day were still there, trying to get home because no flight had been able to field an entire crew. Either they didn’t have pilots or they didn’t have attendants. The last flight to Portland that evening did have a full complement of crew and attendants, so after they left there were just about 30 of us that got on the plane to Seattle. it was supposed to be a full flight. All of them to Portland were supposed to be full flights. They managed to cram all of the passengers from 5 flights onto that one because so many had decided to stay home, and I think they had seats left over.
    People really were terrified and it lasted a long time. That forum I had logged onto was a huge one, started by people involved in swing dancing, and the hosts produced a list of the more than 130 NY residents who were members. They asked them or their friends to check in. All but two eventually did. We never found out what happened to the two who were missing.

    Disneyland (Anaheim) was nearly empty for two years following the attack; the park was kept afloat by other Disney income.

    ReplyReply
  140. 140
    CliosFanboy says:

    I remember that the tin foil heads eventually took over The Democratic Underground over this and the London Attacks. Those who were on the DU may remember loons such as Spooked91 and Octofish.

    ReplyReply
  141. 141
    J R in WV says:

    One thing that happened after 9-11 that I greatly admired, was the New York Times running an individual obit for every single person believed to have died in lower Manhattan that day. Most all of them had a photo, a small amount of biography, where they were from, where they worked or why they had been high up in one of the towers that day.

    It obviously took a ton of work by a team of very good and persistent reporters and editors, they ran a double truck of those obits for months. I worked hard to read as many of those as I could. It seemed to be the least I could do.

    Even the bus staff, cooks and waiters, the copy machine operators, and cleaners, the ordinary folks as well as the masters of the universe* who were caught up in the disaster. It was a shining example of fine reporting that deserved a prize, though I don’t think it got one.

    A shame they can’t manage to do that on current events today!

    ReplyReply
  142. 142
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Baud: I certainly think that. I think it is in the nature of liberalism. We want to make things better. We want things to work. Even when we get something done, we tend to look at it and see what still needs to be done. Too many can’t celebrate a win. It is hard to live that way. People just get ground down. I know that I have been accused of tone policing and trying to tell people what they can and cannot say, but, Jesus, we aren’t dead yet so there is always a chance to make things better. The existentialist hero who carries on despite having no hope is great in literature, but there aren’t that many floating around.

    The other side doesn’t care about making things better. They just want to win and give our side the middle finger. Anger at losing just fuels them. (It is possible that they are Sith.)

    ReplyReply
  143. 143
    BigJimSlade says:

    I recall, of course feeling terrible for the victims and their friends and families, but being very sad because I knew that there was going to be the promotion of fear, paranoia and aggression as some sort of righteous necessity in life. The bullshit and bluster would flow like a river.

    ReplyReply
  144. 144

    @opiejeanne:

    The way I drove to Torrance took me through a munitions storage area in Long Beach. I can’t find it on a map now, but it was rows and rows of earth-covered bunkers in a wasteland of dry dead weeds.

    That’s Seal Beach, they have a naval weapons depot there.

    ReplyReply
  145. 145
    opiejeanne says:

    @FelonyGovt: My middle child spent the month of May in 2001 in New York, living in Greenwich Village, attending exchange classes (Dance Major, UC Irvine) and auditioning for shows. She and the other girls used to walk past a fire station every day and the guys would try to talk to them, a dozen pretty girls, 20-22 years old. The girls always laughed and kept walking, but on their last day in New York they stopped and took a photo with the firemen. It was a great photo, and I wish I had been able to get a copy but she had lost track of the girl with the photo after graduation.

    I think that whole station died, all those men just gone.

    ReplyReply
  146. 146
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @cmorenc: True, but it’s interesting that the Clinton administration did prevent some big al-Qaeda attacks. IIRC, attempts to bomb the millennium celebrations, and a rather 9/11-like plot called Bojinka that involved a bunch of simultaneous airline bombings.

    ReplyReply
  147. 147
    japa21 says:

    I was driving to work and just entering the parking garage when the news came that a plane had hit the first tower. Thinking was that it was a small plane. Got to my desk and turned the computer to CNN. I think their site probably came close to crashing. Then heard about the second plane. Nobody got much work done. There were three Middle Eastern coworkers who were practicing Muslims. Unfortunately, many of my coworkers started giving them dirty looks and avoiding them, even though just days earlier they had all gotten along. Really pissed me off.

    Several of us tried to reach out to them but they decided to withdraw into themselves. It took several days for them to start socializing again.

    From my office floor we had a clear view of the skies over O’Hare. It was strange to look out and see absolutely empty skies. We all sttod together to watch the first plane take off.

    ReplyReply
  148. 148
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Neo-Confederates love nothing better than a Lost Cause. Most liberals aren’t good at running on that; we want a sense of progress.

    But I think the more purity-pony leftists are into it. If you never win, your hands are always clean; nothing bad is ever your fault.

    ReplyReply
  149. 149

    @Yarrow: The Queen has not apologized and neither has any British PM. Its a good start, though.

    ReplyReply
  150. 150
    trollhattan says:

    @randy khan:

    (I didn’t realize that nearly everybody below the levels where the planes hit got out, thanks to a decision after the 1994 bombing to rethink the evacuation plan – and the people who did that are unsung heroes, because in the end they saved thousands of lives.)

    As things worked out, not everybody followed that plan. My best college buddy’s employer had a subsidiary in the second tower, and they received an evacuation notice after the first plane hit. They later got a PA announcement to return to their offices; some did, and then the second plane struck. They lost 80+ employees but a few of them said “fuck going back” and lived to tell the tale, including some my buddy knows personally.

    Current neighborhood friends were in Manhattan that day–the husband was at a meeting and the wife was touristing. She debated Top or the World or Statue of Liberty? and chose Lady Liberty. I also know somebody who was eating at Top of the World when the parking lot bomb exploded. She learned what descending 100 floors of stairs was like (barefoot, because pumps).

    I went to work here in Calif and built report binders (there’s a deadline, you know) while we watched the AV teevee hooked up to a coat hanger antenna. It now seems like a very, very bad mushroom trip.

    ReplyReply
  151. 151
    Kent says:

    As I write this I’m sitting in front of a classroom of high school seniors. Not a single one of them was even born yet on 9-11.

    I was born 2 months after the Kennedy Assassination. I can still remember my HS teachers talking about it every year on November 22 and how far in the distant past Kennedy seemed to me, a 1982 HS grad. For today’s high school seniors, 9-11 is as far in the past as Kennedy was for us 1980s generation.

    We really can’t stop the march of time.

    ReplyReply
  152. 152
    cmorenc says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Yes, Bush demonstrated with that remark how asleep at the switch he was about available intelligence foreshadowing a potential terrorist attack. While the prospects an on-the-ball Dem President like Gore would have been able to effectively react to head off the attack would’ve been far better – there’s no guarantee he could have held AlQueda at bay from mounting some sort of terrorist spectacular against the US – and my comment was about the shitstorm the GOP would have hurled at him over that vs crickets toward Bush’s pre-attack sloppy inattentiveness before 9/11.

    ReplyReply
  153. 153
    trollhattan says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:
    Distinctly. Also recall that he shut down the Bin Laden desk. They were gunning for Saddam back to the day the Supreme Court put them in office and didn’t want the distraction.

    ReplyReply
  154. 154
    Brachiator says:

    I really appreciate the comments from the people who lived in the NYC and DC/Virginia areas, and who still retain vivid memories of that day.

    I was safe and warm at home in Los Angeles, watching the attack on the second tower. As a student I had been all over New York. As an adult, on one visit I deliberately hit the tourist spots, including the Twin Towers. I have always loved New York and its people.

    In the time after the attack, the New York Times printed mini biographies of the people lost. I tried to read each one.

    ReplyReply
  155. 155
    trollhattan says:

    @cmorenc:
    From the ’16 campaign out of the mouths of <del<babesidiots I was briefly hopeful when Trump pushed back at Jeb! claiming “my brother kept us safe”: “No he didn’t.” Unfortunately there was no substance behind the jab, because it was an opening to have the discussion we have yet to tackle.

    ReplyReply
  156. 156
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodingers_cat: You know that as a constitutional monarch the queen can only apologize if the government puts an apology in her hands, right?

    ReplyReply
  157. 157

    @Omnes Omnibus: I have been accused of the same.

    ReplyReply
  158. 158

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yes that’s why I added the PM to that comment.

    ReplyReply
  159. 159
    Gravenstone says:

    I was unwinding on the computer after the night at work. Had the TV on in the living room of my apartment. Heard Katie Couric come on air saying something about a plane crash and giving the time – the current time, not the one hour time delayed broadcast I was accustomed to. As the recognition of that sunk in, something in her tone of voice struck me so I walked out to see what was happening. Maybe 10 seconds later, the second plane hit. My initial thoughts “bad, but it’s recoverable”. I thought for a moment about the WWII bomber that flew into the Empire State building and pictured this as a larger version of that. Then the first tower came down…

    In the days that followed, a lot of us even at the safe remove of the upper Midwest were walking as if in a daze. The one thing I will always remember from those clear autumn days that followed was the very visible contrails of the only aircraft in the skies at the time – what was probably a fighter flying figure 8s to the west. Such an odd yet vivid detail that this time of year always brings back to me.

    And no, we’ve never really recovered from the events of that day. Mostly because of how they were co-opted by Bush/Cheney (and Republicans in general) to heighten our fears in an effort to make us more pliable.

    ReplyReply
  160. 160

    @cmorenc: They were all asleep, the Clinton folk warned them that was their greatest threat. Condi was an old Russian hand, she didn’t care all that much. The Bush folk had a close relationship with the Saudi’s(their ambassador to the US was Prince Bandar(aka Bandar Bush)). so they had a really blind eye towards anything coming out of the region. Remember the Cole had been bombed in December of 2000.

    @trollhattan: He had oil, remember the Dick’s energy task force?

    ReplyReply
  161. 161
    Ruckus says:

    @J R in WV:
    I wonder if some of their slant is because of that day. Almost as if the NYT had been personally attacked that day.

    ReplyReply
  162. 162
    trollhattan says:

    @Kent:
    Very thankful my kid was born three months after, and toddlered her way through the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions entertained by Dora the Explorer and not CNN. She gets her very first vote this coming primary and I’m confident will be a regular, engaged voter going forward. She will certainly find ways to cancel my vote on certain issues and candidates, because kids. It’s their jerb.

    ReplyReply
  163. 163
    randy khan says:

    @R-Jud:

    She’d been running late that day. As she crossed the river on the ferry she watched the whole thing unfold in front of her.

    I have a cousin who worked there and took the PATH train from Newark to get to work. He literally walked out of the PATH station, saw the first building on fire, turned around and went home. He probably was on one of the last trains to get out of the station before the collapse. (IIRC, they shut PATH down before the collapse, which obviously was a good decision, and would have been a good decision even if the buildings hadn’t fallen.)

    ReplyReply
  164. 164
    Ruckus says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:
    Not sure but I think that is closed now. I don’t think it has been all cleaned up yet.

    ReplyReply
  165. 165
    Kent says:

    @trollhattan: My middle daughter was born on 3/20/2003 which is the day Bush invaded Iraq. I remember this because I remember watching the invasion start on TV while sitting in my wife’s hospital room waiting for her scheduled C-Section.

    Daughter is now a HS Junior. I love that her politics make me feel like a moderate.

    ReplyReply
  166. 166
    Kay says:

    John Harwood
    @JohnJHarwood
    ·1h
    “Acting WH chief of staff Mulvaney told Commerce Secretary Ross have NOAA publicly disavow the forecasters’ position that Alabama was not at risk.
    “In pressing NOAA to take action, Mr. Ross warned that top employees at the agency could be fired”

    Tons of public employees at the highest levels in the Trump Administration spent days ordering scientists to lie to protect the President’s behind.

    The career lower level employees are much better quality than the sleazy Trump bottom o the barrel cowards. They’re lowering the standards in the whole organization they suck so much. Stinking the place up. Quality will go up just by firing these two men.

    ReplyReply
  167. 167
    trollhattan says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:
    Yup, and it wasn’t wrong for the DFHs to call Cheney Halliburton Dick, given he ran the joint between Bush administrations.

    In 1995, Cheney replaced Thomas H. Cruikshank, as chairman and CEO. Cruikshank had served since 1989.

    In the early 1990s, Halliburton was found to be in violation of federal trade barriers in Iraq and Libya, having sold these countries dual-use oil drilling equipment and, through its former subsidiary, Halliburton Logging Services, sending six pulse neutron generators to Libya. After having plead guilty, the company was fined $1.2 million, with another $2.61 million in penalties.

    In 1998, Halliburton merged with Dresser Industries, which included Kellogg. Prescott Bush was a director of Dresser Industries, which is now part of Halliburton; his son, former president George H. W. Bush, worked for Dresser Industries in several positions from 1948 to 1951, before he founded Zapata Corporation.

    Lovely people, all of them.

    ReplyReply
  168. 168
    Kent says:

    I was working as a marine fisheries biologist in Juneau Alaska on 9-11. Becuase of the time zone change it happened in the early morning for us and I woke up to listening to it on NPR and then turned on CNN in time to see the second plane hit the tower.

    September is peak hunting season in Alaska and 99% of the state is off the road system so most hunters fly into their hunting sites and hunting cabins by chartered float planes. After 9-11, all air travel in the entire US was grounded for a week. What that meant in Alaska was that thousands and thousands of hunters and fishermen were left stranded scattered all over across the state at remote lakes. There is no cell coverage and ordinary handheld radios are too short-range to get long distance communications. So unless they had actual short wave radios, most of them had no way of knowing what was happening and why their rides were not showing up day after day. Made for a lot of freaked out hunters. The FAA finally cleared small plane traffic in Alaska befre the rest of the country so that float planes could start going out and collecting all the stranded and hungry hunters and fishermen scattered across the state.

    ReplyReply
  169. 169
    trollhattan says:

    @Kent:
    I have high hopes for the upcoming generation, admittedly based on a selective sample. Their underlying fatalism primarily stems from climate change, in contrast with my gen’s presumption of looming nuclear immolation. I’m running out of counterarguments.

    ReplyReply
  170. 170
    Steve in the ATL says:

    What a strange day. I was in my office in Atlanta, on the phone with my boss, the general counsel in NYC. His office had a view of the towers and a few minutes into our conversation he got really quiet, then said “HOLY SHIT!”

    I remember that the internet news sites were overwhelmed and hard to get on, so I was getting real time information from a lawyer chat room I frequented (sounds great, right?). Lots of real time updates from young lawyers in NYC and DC. Was just nuts.

    My company had two employees on the second plane. Good friend of wife’s was a professor at Columbia; after that day she couldn’t go back into the city so got a job in NJ. One of my college roommates worked in WTC 7 (I think–the smaller building that wasn’t hit but collapsed anyway a few days later. He was late to work that day because his month-old baby had been sick all night.

    Very depressing. I can’t even imagine what the locals went through.

    ReplyReply
  171. 171
    trollhattan says:

    @Kent:
    We have a friend who was winging to Bali and diverted to Alaska, where she spent a week at a shut-down resort. And because the resort gift shop was closed she had no way to buy warm clothing, having packed for, you know, Bali.

    Had an October flight and still recall our airport crawling with CANG in camo, shouldering M16s. Huge queues and nobody complaining. Hardly anybody talking, for that matter.

    ReplyReply
  172. 172
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    September 8-11, 2001, I was in Lexington, KY, attending the Southern Governors’ Association annual meeting, along with my Consul General at the time. These conferences are always over-the-top affairs, with high-profile speakers and celebrity entertainers and unlimited drink and food. Oh, yes, there are also occasional policy meetings.

    On Sunday the 9th, I renewed an old acquaintance with journalist Helen Thomas, which was lovely. Midday on the 10th, as a requirement of the job, I attended a keynote speech by, but assuredly did not attempt to meet, VP Dick Cheney. It was an effort even to be in the same room with him, but I behaved myself.

    The evening of Monday the 10th was the traditional banquet with entertainment, preceded by a lovely boozy reception. Never shall I forget seeing an incredibly handsome man working the cocktail room with ineffable charm, eventually making his way to me, extending his hand, and saying (as though he had been waiting a lifetime for that moment), “Hello. I’m George Clooney.”

    Sigh. If only the conference had ended at that moment.

    GC was there to introduce the talent of the evening, his Aunt Rosemary, famously a Kentucky native. I think she must have been very ill by then (she died about nine months later); she was sadly obese, the golden pipes were shot, and she had almost no breath control, but damn! she still had amazing presence and delivery, and it was a treat to hear her in person.

    There were a few committee meetings the following morning, and my CG and I put in the obligatory attendance. I excused myself at one point, whispering to her that I was just going to finish last-minute packing and confirm arrangements for our return flight to Atlanta.

    Got back to my room and switched on the “Today” Show just in time to see the first plane hit. When the second plane hit, I ran back to the meeting room to let my CG know what was happening. The next few hours were a nightmare (shared, I know, by thousands of others) of trying to arrange transportation. No flights. No rental cars available anywhere. We finally ended up riding to Atlanta with a friend of my CG who lived in Cincinnati (he turned out to be her fiancé, later husband, but I didn’t know that at the time!) He had a tiny red MG convertible, and we tore up I-75 to get back. As everyone else has noted, it was a brilliant, perfect, blue-sky September day, and it was surreal to be listening to the horrendous and disturbing reports on NPR while heading back home with the top down. One thing that stands out is that many of the I-75 overpasses had groups of people hanging huge American flags over the side. Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia. Say what you will about the South (and God knows I do!), but there was real solidarity that day.

    Finally got to the office around 9:00 or 10:00 pm, and even at that hour the place was abuzz, with constant teleconferences and communications among the various Canadian Consulates in the US, the Embassy, and HQ in Ottawa. I think I eventually made it home around 2:00 am.

    ReplyReply
  173. 173
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @trollhattan: There were a couple of things that lifted me up out of the downer everyone was on in the weeks after 9/11. The first was a David Byrne concert on the second Saturday after 9/11. Byrne and his band simply tore the place up. Not a slow song in the set and barely a pause between songs. I think it might have been his first show since the attack. Everyone was ready for and seemed to need a release. The second was going back to WI in mid-October to be godfather to me newborn nephew.

    Celebrating life is a good thing.

    ReplyReply
  174. 174
    The Moar You Know says:

    I’d worked a late shift and gone out partying the night before- those were the days. Started getting phone calls from various family members that went like this:

    “Do you know where your dad is?”
    “Yeah, he’s flying today. Probably out of La Guardia or Logan. Why?”
    (hysterical ranting)
    “Gotta go, I’m gonna be late for work”

    (repeat several times with different relatives)

    Hmm, what the hell.

    Turn on TV, CNN has literally an image of blue sky with wisps of smoke, no commentary at all. Two minutes of this, I turn it off and am just starting to wonder what the fuck is going on. Get in car, drive to work. Get identical phone call in car from brother. Ask “why the fuck does everyone want to know where dad is?”

    “You don’t know?”
    “Know what?”
    “Dude, someone just flew two jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York and the towers collapsed”
    “OK, thanks, that explains some of the phone calls today”

    Went into work. They closed two hours later.

    As a pilot’s kid, you live every day knowing you can get a phone call that’s going to upend your life forever. That’s the deal. No, you don’t get used to that but you do learn how to wait for news without freaking out or chewing your nails to the bone. My dad had flown out of Logan and was fine. The flight after his was not fine.

    You also, as a pilot’s kid, get VERY used to the idea that anything involving an airplane and the news is going to be nothing but 100% bullshit and speculation for weeks if not months. So I didn’t sit around wondering what had happened. All you gotta know is, “is my loved one dead or not”. As to details, the NTSB will let you know sooner or later. And you WILL NOT want to know those details.

    I will be very glad when we, as a nation, can drop this sackcloth and ashes bullshit and this is again just another day, much like Pearl Harbor’s anniversary is. It’s not healthy for us to wallow in this for as long as we have. I won’t even address the political ramifications of this self-flagellation. The wallowing in “our shared national catastrophe” is not good for us as people.

    ETA: I had to fly up to Oakland not quite a month later and watched in horror as security, backed by two National Guardsmen with loaded guns, made a guy in a wheelchair get out of it and drag himself through the scanner while they took his wheelchair apart and searched it. I only then realized what this was going to lead to – America’s very own Third Reich. I have not seen anything since to dissuade me of that notion.

    Also, as everyone else remark, my father remarked on the weather that day. “Absolutely perfect”

    ReplyReply
  175. 175
    Laura Too says:

    Thank you so much Alain-both for the life details and the days details. I was working (still do-I’m on my short lunch break) at a car rental company that has its base near there and offices in WTC. I have so many stories-a flood of memories. I appreciate your incredible journey and can’t wait to get home to read all of the accounts but wanted to delurk to let you know.

    ReplyReply
  176. 176
    Martin says:

    I grew up in NY. For a while we lived in CT and we’d drive frequently to visit family in NY. From the back seat, I always looked for the WTC as one of the towers was still under construction. It was more prominent for me because my grandparents complained incessantly about the buildings. They thought they were an eyesore. NYers complain about architecture the way the rest of the country complains about traffic.

    When I was 5 I finally annoyed my family enough to take me there over their objections. It was amazing. The area was spartan – a sea of concrete. It was like being in Star Trek. We went to the observation deck, up the super-fast elevator. We looked around the city, which wasn’t that new since I’d been up in the Empire State Building a few times already. My uncle had just gotten a new camera so there are copious photos of the trip, one of the few sets of photos I have from that age that aren’t Christmas. I was clearly more excited than anyone else in my family, and I have this incredibly clear memory of swinging between my parents arms as we walked through the observation deck. Pretty much my last memory with my parents while they still liked each other – they divorced a few years later, basically once they could afford to divorce. To me they were my beacons. They were my navigation points in NY, what I oriented myself to. That observation deck was when I could still get a 3-way hug with my parents.

    I took my wife to NYC just before we got married – she’d barely ever been out of California before and we went to the WTC. It was bombed a month later.

    On 9/11 my wife and I were in bed when my mom called. She just said to turn on the TV and hung up. The TV was in our bedroom so we turned it on and sat on the bed. My daughter was 7 months old and was sleeping in the room with us, right next to the TV. It was a side by side picture. The pentagon was clearly on the left side, the right side was just dust and some buildings. We knew it was NYC, but the newscasters were an hour at least into this event and not giving moment to moment updates. My wife asked what that was on the right. I said it’s the WTC complex. The camera shot was from NJ and you could see the World Financial Plaza in the foreground. I said the WTC should be right there but it was missing. We didn’t yet know why it was missing. I looked at the clock, remembered what day it was, and told her 100,000 people should have been at work in those two buildings that are now missing. I don’t remember any of the newscasters words, but terrorist attack was on the screen and said a lot. I looked at my daughter and wife and said ‘fuck, we’re going to nuke everybody over this’. I’m glad I was wrong, but we decided to slow burn this instead with not much better results.

    My family is from NY – Brooklyn particularly. What’s more, a fuckton of them are fire/police. My dad’s cousin was head of the FDNY union at the time. Others were station captains, some were Port Authority police stationed out of WTC 7. My two godfathers, one is FDNY, the other NYPD. I knew all of them would be at the WTC, even if they were off duty. That’s just how they were – they just went if they were invited or not. I got in touch with my dad, and we started setting up the family communications. We couldn’t reach anyone the first day. I saw one of my great uncles on TV, so he was ok. My dad saw a cousin. We made a list of the people we suspected might be there and started checking them off as we saw them, got word. Some calls got through, some names checked off. Eventually the list was complete – everyone was okay, but it took about a week. Lots of them worked on the pile. They stopped all being okay. 2 died from suspected illnesses from working on the pile. 2 suicides. I didn’t know them terribly well, but they’re all in my family photo album from reunions and such. I know their kids better than them, not as many went into NYPD or FDNY. Most didn’t even stay in NY. But it affected my dad a lot – these were the people he grew up with. I know a lot of people that went full RWNJ after 9/11 – most of my family was already leaning that way if not there already, my dad went the other way – pacifist/socialist. Just more of a wedge driven between my side of the family and the rest.

    2 days after 9/11 my maternal grandfather died on long island. It wasn’t a surprise, his health had been failing for some time, but I talked to my mom about it and we decided there was no way we could pull a funeral together given that the airlines were still shut down, and what kind of fucking zoo would it be trying to fly into JFK or LaGuardia. We had him cremated and saved the funeral until a year later. I had shit at work I needed to do, which I mostly figured out how to do somehow, but I had to give a big presentation at the end of the month, and the day before I just lost it. A coworker dragged me into an emergency counseling session and told my bosses to fuck off and leave me alone for a week.

    I’ve yet to go back to NYC since 9/11. I love the city. I grew up there. But that trip is going to be rough.

    ReplyReply
  177. 177
    BellyCat says:

    Remarkable thread. Thank you, all.

    I’m reminded of advice given from a (smarter than I realized) friend, years ago:

    “Life is full of both magic and horror. You have to choose where to focus.”

    (Always suspected this was some pithy quote, but a quick Googling doesn’t seem to confirm this)

    ReplyReply
  178. 178

    That Sunday I was sketching a ferry at Hudson River Park, (I’m a painter in my spare time) with the towers looming behind, a beautiful early September afternoon. I was home alone that weekend as my roommate Matthew was on vacation out of town. I got a call that night from his old friend Myra, and we chatted about this and that. She mentioned she was flying out of Boston to go to a meeting in California on Tuesday, looking forward to it, etc. we got to talking of our mutual friend Matthew and she was so thoughtful and protective of him, like he was always going to be that rather unpractical guy and we had to make sure he didn’t get into mischief. I was very touched by her sweetness towards someone so dear to her. Two days later she was gone, and I realized she had mentioned she was flying. It was so awful as I was alone, all my friends were out of town, and I was one of the first who connected the dots and realized she was gone. The cell phones didn’t work, adding to my sense of isolation. It really is all seared in my mind. That Tuesday going to vote, then going to work and seeing it all on tv, then coming home to Brooklyn on a deathly silent train to a cell phone that didn’t function, and remembering my conversation with Myra two days earlier. I don’t think about it too much, but the anniversaries always bring me right there again. RIP Myra, a lovely person, brilliant, sensitive, and very kind. Spoke 5 languages to boot. That’s about it. -Richard

    ReplyReply
  179. 179
    trollhattan says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    Perfect antidotes, both.

    Painted my kid’s nursery during the Afghanistan invasion, which helped ground me in response to the weirdness piling up all around. When she arrived three days before New Years (and two weeks late, which she has yet to make up for) life was wrenched in an entirely different direction and our new tiny distraction probably saved our souls.

    ReplyReply
  180. 180
    VeniceRiley says:

    I remember sitting up in bed watching. I remember the on air talent speculating about the size of the first plane. What tiny monitors they must have, I thought! That was no Cessna. yet they droned on. The second plane hit and they mercifully dropped that on air spec. Morning show talent got quickly replaced by the usual primetime talking heads who rushed in to work to cover the breaking news.

    At the time, I was employed re-selling chips and component parts and the orders stopped cold. Got laid off.
    That made me available to drive my neighbor, who worked for United, into LAX early every morning. Security was tight. Having a guy in uniform hold a mirror on a stick under your wheel wells and have a look in your trunk … All I remember thinking was “It’s like Israel. We’re going to be like this going forward.”

    ReplyReply
  181. 181

    @Ruckus: Per Wikipedia and the command’s website, it’s still in use; however the rail links are no longer active.

    ReplyReply
  182. 182
    Ben Cisco says:

    Had been laid off from my job the week before; had interviews scheduled for the day after 9/11. Got a call:

    “Turn on your TV!”

    Me: “Which channel?”

    “It ain’t gonna matter.”

    Glued to the set for the next several days. Found myself wondering if I was going to be recalled to duty – seemed like this was an end-of-the-world type event. Took a while to get Mrs. C. calmed down in that regard. Went through all the emotions – mostly unencumbered rage. Those interviews disappeared; it was another couple of months before I found work.

    We all lost something that day – and had no idea at the time just how MUCH.

    ReplyReply
  183. 183
    Aleta says:

    @trollhattan: Friends and their four-year-old lived down a grassy road from where I was living that fall. He was already spending time with us every day to give his folks a break. After the 11th, I was grateful for the break I got being with him — walking in the fields and woods with a mind whose world didn’t include what happened that day. (He’s 22 now, still a pal.)

    Alain, thanks for your beautiful writing and for what it set in motion in this thread.

    ReplyReply
  184. 184
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Chyron HR: I don’t know. I mean, on the one hand, it’s well-established from psychological studies that thinking about death and being afraid makes you more right-wing in sentiment, so there’s an asymmetric effect here. On the other hand, JFK gained approval from the Cuban Missile Crisis, LBJ got huge political capital from coming in via assassination, and Jimmy Carter even initially gained from the Iran hostage crisis until it became clear he wasn’t going to fix it quickly. People do rally around the President in a crisis. Maybe it’s a matter of expectations.

    ReplyReply
  185. 185
    Tehanu says:

    @Mike in NC:

    Every year now when 9/11 rolls around you see right-wingers and their “never forget” signs. I wonder what their point is. Fear and hate, I guess.

    Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station has a post on this you might want to read.

    I was waked up (in L.A.) by a call from my son yelling “Turn on the TV!” I remember the next few days as a time when everyone was on the same page and how fast that went away when Bush the Dumber told everybody to just go shopping.

    ReplyReply
  186. 186
    Alain says:

    @Laura Too: Thanks, Laura.

    ReplyReply
  187. 187
    Alain says:

    @Nelle: thanks, I’d like to learn more. Please send me more info to my new email address – alain@ this domain

    Once the new site goes live, our new email addresses will be displayed on the site, but I’m trying to avoid typing it out to reduce spam and email harvesting.

    ReplyReply
  188. 188
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Martin: I’ve been back many times. But I don’t go to the new WTC or the 9/11 memorial. As much as I appreciate honoring the memories of those who were lost, I don’t like the idea of spending too much time wallowing in it, as others have said. That re-traumatization that makes you more receptive to bad notions.

    ReplyReply
  189. 189
    TomatoQueen says:

    FYWP just ate a post, bastard thing. While I agree that there are aspects to this that make exploitation easy, and it’s better to try to help with current and future needs without being stuck in the past, the past has a way of not being past. In my job at SSA, I see claimant medical records all day, thousands of pages. Last year I started seeing records from claimants who I realized after a gulp were all first responders. I work at the court case level, so what I see is the record that goes to court, usually 2 to 3 years after the claimant has been through the process and been denied at all steps. The denials are based on SSA’s belief that while the person has medical issues, they are still capable of working at some other, less taxing job, and the claimant disputes this argument, hence the court case. It’s my task to prepare the record for court, so I get to look at medical pages at length and with some detail. The first responders claims came about because they were being turfed out of the first responders fund, as it was running out of money, and there was at the time nowhere else to turn (city and state benefits not withstanding, not everyone is eligible). It is only last week (NYT) that sanitation workers who got sick after helping that day and the days following became covered under the first responders legislation. Doubtless there are forgotten others. It shouldn’t be anything other than obvious that SSA needed to make an automatic eligibility category called first responders, but we didn’t do it, and nobody else did other than the fund, which was penny ante and time limited and subject to politics and Moscow Mitch vs Jon Stewart–a ridiculous and shameful situation. But if we weren’t capable of wallowing, I doubt very much that anything would’ve been done. Also, we’re going to see this kind of thing again, with long term effects of disaster (BP’s mess in the Gulf is doing all kinds of things) becoming more and more frequent. This isn’t over.

    ReplyReply
  190. 190
    Ruckus says:

    @The Moar You Know:
    Was traveling and in the air during the shit storm. Got stuck at Atlanta for about 18 hours till could get a rental and drive back to Columbus. The worst was that the promoter of one of my events would not cancel his event the next weekend. It ended up being a disaster for them, with almost no participants and fewer spectators.
    I have to agree with everyone that GWB made a clusterfuck out of it, as most of us thought he would. And that it has been a rallying cry for all the warmongers ever since.

    ReplyReply
  191. 191
    Ruckus says:

    @TomatoQueen:
    Man made shitstorms rarely end well. The people responsible for making it worse will never admit anything and that gums up the works for 2 or 3 decades, minimum.

    ReplyReply
  192. 192
    Ruckus says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:
    Had seen something about it a while ago didn’t quite remember the details. Given that Long Beach naval yard has been closed for a while I can’t really see why it’s still in use.

    ReplyReply
  193. 193
    Ruckus says:

    @BellyCat:
    And it’s very good advice.
    Doesn’t mean you don’t pay attention, just that you have to prioritize your attention, so as not to drown in things you can’t change and can focus on the things you can, even if all you can do is help positive change become a reality.

    ReplyReply
  194. 194
    Ruckus says:

    @Martin:
    For whatever it’s worth, I’m sorry about all of your painful moments. I’d balance going back at all against not seeing people who still live there. Not an easy decision for sure but every step has a value.
    I both want to see the Vietnam memorial and not see it. I think it’s important to go, especially for someone in my generation and service history but……..:

    ReplyReply
  195. 195
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Ruckus: Not just warmongers–it also contributed to the “thin blue line” adulation of police, by associating police in general with the heroic first responders of 9/11, and that made it that much harder to criticize them for anything. And it temporarily made even many liberal Americans deeply xenophobic, anti-Muslim and anti-immigration, tendencies the right never lost. It was a general boost to authoritarianism across the board. As I said, I think some of what Trump’s fans are feeling is frustration and rage that that authoritarianism is declining among non-Republicans. They’ve concluded that a majority of Americans are the enemy.

    ReplyReply
  196. 196

    @Ruckus: You probably saw that they had stopped rail shipments and removed the tracks several years ago.

    ReplyReply
  197. 197
    Topclimber says:

    @Martin: This thread is probably comatose by now but man go back to Gotham. Don’t let the suicide bombers and neocon Templars keep you away. Yeah it is way too faux hip and gentrified but Brooklyn is the future the Gileads and Jihadists dread.

    ReplyReply
  198. 198
    Topclimber says:

    @Ruckus: At least Bush didn’t demonize all Muslims and in fact spoke in their defense. Somehow he didn’t see all those Jersey City Muslims celebrating.

    Not our best and brightest but eventually understood how Cheney played him in Iran, so I give him some credit. There is no genius at home there, but there is some spiritual core. Need I compare that with you know who?

    ReplyReply
  199. 199
    Elizabelle says:

    Alain: your essay was beautifully written, and it was informative hearing others’ experiences of that tragic and since totally misused day. Saving this thread.

    It was an authentic way to commemorate September 11, 2001. Way better than anything the powers that be serve up.

    ReplyReply
  200. 200
    Elizabelle says:

    @Topclimber: Agreeing with this. Time to go back, Martin.

    And check out the Chelsea Market!

    ReplyReply
  201. 201
    Topclimber says:

    @Elizabelle: Who new that our site fixer would launch one of the most soulful and personal threads in recent memory among the jaded Jackleteriat?

    ReplyReply
  202. 202
    Elizabelle says:

    @Topclimber: Alain has many talents. Not a surprise, and I was glad for a noncynical thread.

    ReplyReply
  203. 203
    Alain says:

    @Elizabelle: thanks for the kind word. I’m glad to have shared this and to have encouraged so many other stories. I also very much appreciate Betty’s post looking forward.

    I like to say that we are the stories we tell ourselves. Therefore it’s important to remember what happened, how we felt, and to appreciate what was lost, and to never let others control the narrative in our own heads or pull knee-jerk reactions from us by hollow appeals to a unity that requires supporting new injustices against refugees, immigrants both documented and undocumented, and Americans who don’t look, sound, vote, love, or pray “right”.

    ReplyReply
  204. 204
    Kifaru1 says:

    I totally understand your connectiont Africa. I lived in Kenya for 11 years as a child and there is nowhere that feels like home except Africa. DRC is a tragic place; as is Darfur and Angola before them. No one in the “developed” or “first-world” countries cares about them unless they can get something from them. That is how we ended up with Mugabe (Thank doG he is dead!). I cry every year on this day for what might have been….and I dream of moving back to Africa and feeling like I am helping to make a difference for people.

    ReplyReply
  205. 205
    Laura Too says:

    @Alain: I want a tattoo “But reality is fickle and tragedy endures.” So poetic!

    ReplyReply

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *