Monday, September 11, 2006

Let's Not Forget

September 11, 2001 would have, and should have, just been another day. We were working, and I was not in my booth for some reason when the radio announced that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. That was all that was said at that point and I had it all wrong in my head. I was picturing some imbecile in a single engine plane flying too close to the building and accidentally hitting it and was concerned about falling debris from the plane hitting pedestrians below. At that point we had no idea what had really happened. A few minutes later I had to go into my paint booth and started painting car parts.

About an hour and a half later I was relieved for break and my relief painter asked if I had heard the World Trade Center. I said that some guy in a plane had hit it and he said that they had both been hit, they had both collapsed, a building in Washington had been hit and planes were "falling out of the sky". Seeing my stunned disbelief he then added "We're being attacked!" I went out onto the floor and work was being done without any enthusiasm as shocked co-workers (management and hourly) were glued to the radio.

I understood then how my grandparents and great-grandparents felt when they had learned of Pearl Harbor. This would be another day that would live forever in infamy. But who was the enemy? My first suspicion was the Palestinians (who, according to radio reports that day, were celebrating the destruction); like most Americans at that time, I had never heard of al-Qaida. That would soon change.

Rumors were flying, and at that point we had no count of the number of dead and some radio commentators were saying it could be 10,000 or more. I went home that afternoon and noticed a long line at the local Shell Mart and gas had jumped a little bit, though there was no local gouging in my community. I got home and called my parents to see how they were doing.

A few days later we knew alot more and a tentative list of the dead and missing was made available. I scanned it looking for people I knew who lived in New York and Boston - where some of the flights originated - (mostly college friends and one old flame) and was relieved that no one that I knew was killed.

Inspite of the horror there were things to be grateful for. Had the buildings been hit just a couple hours later the death toll would have been much worse.

Now they are promising more mischief and we must remain vigilant. If we do not act then mere memory is wasted. We did not start this war but we cannot afford to lose it.

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