I've posted this before, but once is not enough.
I slept through September 11, 2001. I was working night shift on an outage at my paper mill and arrived home about 8AM that morning, had my usual four fingers of bourbon and hit the sack as I had to be up by about 4PM to get back to work.
Dee Snider had a morning radio program out of one of the Hartford stations back then and I always listened to him. I fell asleep with the radio on. I remember waking up about a quarter to nine and Dee was saying something about a plane hitting the Trade Center. I didn't think much of it, shut the radio off, and went back to sleep.
When I awoke at four that afternoon and turned on the TV my first thought was, "They finally did it." as I instantly recalled listening to the first attack in 1993 live on WCBS 880 radio while I waited to pick up my youngest sister at St. Bernard High School.
The rest is history, I suppose.
That evening, there was work to be done and we set to it. I took a few minutes and walked outside near the clarifiers and wrote the following. It has not seen the light of day since my original email, which according to the copy my mother kept, was sent at 10:34PM, 11 September, 2001.
11 September, 2001
New Milford, CT
Well, the sun has set on what will soon come to he known as the largest cliche-fest in the history of recorded media. A second "Day That Will Live In Infamy" has passed and all we are left with are disbelief, anger and shock at the fact that we, the only Super-Power on this earth, are ultimately vulnerable. There is but one correct response to this provocation - swift and utter destruction of all parties involved. Advocating that, however, is not my reason for writing.
I walked around outside this evening and peered at the stars. They were all I saw. Normally, there are many strobes and beacons visible because of all of the air traffic in this part of Connecticut, sixty miles from the epicenter of today's events. Their glaring absence is a stark reminder that something has changed. That our seemingly insular existence has been breached so easily and so thoroughly is mind-numbing.
All that remain are questions. "How am I supposed to explain to my children that we really ARE safe, and it's OK to go to sleep tonight because nothing is going to happen when I'm not even sure of that myself?" "How can I put into words the horror that comes from the realization that we, as a nation, may have just lost more people in the span of a few hours than were lost during our entire ten-year involvement in the Viet Nam war?" "Are these tears of rage or tears of sorrow that well up when we view the carnage left in the wake of these hideous acts of cowardice?" To these questions, I have no answers. To a few others, however, the answers are clear.
"Will we pull together as a people, putting aside the differences that suddenly seem so insignificant, and support our leaders as they make the necessary, harsh decisions regarding the pursuit, capture and punishment of all parties responsible for today's atrocities?" Emphatically, Yes.
"Will we, as a people, recover from these events and become a stronger and more cohesive nation?" Emphatically, Yes.
"Will we, as a people, continue to take for granted this wonderful democracy that allows us so many freedoms and abilities?" By God, I hope not.
Isn't it amazing how suddenly the great cultural divide that has split our country in twain seems like a mere rivulet in the sand? Our opinions may place us on opposite sides of an issue, but we, as a people are still on the same coin. Our country has recently been described as divided. Now is the time to unite. For the future of our children, we must stand as one.