September 11 holds a pile of bittersweet memories for me. First, it is my wedding anniversary and we celebrate 29 years this year. So that’s a very happy memory. But second it represents the first time I felt the feelings that my country, my own brethren were attacked and senselessly killed on our own homeland. Americans have rarely felt what so many in so many parts of the world endure every day.
There are numerous emotions and memories I can recount of that day — watching the events unfold live on television and calming our horrified employees. What do you do when you’re helpless?
But two things are indelible in my memory. 1) Being a digital communicator with a digital communications company, we immediately turned to the web and the bloggers in New York to see and hear what they were experiencing. Their perspective was jagged, raw and genuine. While national TV was showing those all too familiar images of smoke pouring from the twin towers of the World Trade Center we were switching between blogs until we found a resident with a live web cam hanging out of their apartment building window and giving us an audio narrative of what was happening. Then Tower One came down and the terror and disbelief in the voice of our host was real. Too real.
We watched as this wall of thick dust and smoke clawed its way down the street, straight at this web cam many stories high and the family inside the apartment began to scream, and cry. Too real, all too real. Their transmission ended, which didn’t improve our confidence at all and only increased our sense of worry.
My second powerful memory came in the days and weeks following 9/11. Our home is in a position that we hear in the distance the constant sound of airplanes taking off and landing at DFW Airport. Beginning in the early evening of 9/11/01 it was silence. Nothing. The familiar roar of jets making their way home or leaving for new destinations were gone and we were left with an empty hole. It wasn’t just eerie, but chilling and a strangely constant reminder that something was wrong and things might never be the same.
And things never have been the same, have they?