Everyone who was born before around 1994 probably remembers where they were and what they were doing when they found out about the 9/11 attacks in 2001. I certainly do. I was on vacation.
The evening before, my then-wife and I had spent a really wonderful evening with our friends Bill and Becky on their boat on the Coralville Res. We talked about going back to Mexico together, as we had some months earlier. That trip would never come to pass.
I will never forget that morning of 9/11, since I experienced it in a different way than many people. I didn’t experience the ongoing confusion about what was going on like many of you who watched the story unfold. I got all the information in one awful moment.
We slept in that morning. We lounged around for a bit after awakening, with no radio or television encroaching on our vacation peace. It must have been approaching 11 when the missus decided to hit the shower, and while she did that, I figured I’d check my email. If I remember correctly, our homepage at the time was set to Excite.com, which I just found out still exists. Who knew?
Excite, like many search engine type pages, had news headlines on their page. I can still see it like it was yesterday. The headline read, “Twin Towers Collapse”. The blurb below it said something to the effect of “Terrorists flew hijacked planes into the WorldTradeCenterTowers, causing them to collapse.”
Naturally, I was stunned. So I ran and turned on the TV, and there it was, those planes impacting the buildings, being replayed and replayed and replayed. Rarely have I ever been so surprised and devastated. I remember saying “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,” and bursting into the bathroom. It was almost impossible to utter the words describing what happened to my wife who enjoyed about 45 seconds more of blissful innocence than I that morning. Once I choked out the words, we were both in tears.
I went to work for a while that day, just to make sure there was a plan in place for covering it. Then I went home, and I spent the next few days, with nothing else to do, glued to the television, watching the horror unfold. Worst vacation that I’ve ever had.
Soon, I think, I will have the finishing touches done on a blog entry about judging other people. While I realize the reasons behind the attacks of 9/11 were/are myriad, like most other conflicts that have religion as a component, they had an undercurrent of “your beliefs are wrong” to them. The Islamic fundamentalists* who perpetrated these attacks, and those who support them have a basic disagreement with the concepts of freedom. They judge our society to be immoral, and believe that it should be stricken from this earth. It’s basic insanity, to be sure. Many of us engage in similar incorrect applications of judgment, though of course on a much smaller and certainly less violent scale, when we draw conclusions about the behaviors of those around us. We’ll discuss that anon, here in this space. Drop by again soon. And take a quiet moment today to reflect on the nightmare of eight years ago today.
*Let me be very clear: The key word is “fundamentalist.” Islam, at its core, is a religion of peace, as all religions should be. It’s when extremists co-opt the name of a religion in order to push their fascist agenda that things go off the rails.