Thursday, September 10, 2009
Eight years on, and we're still affected...
The building I currently work in lies along the approach path to Charleston International Airport. Whenever I step outside the freezer to thaw out a bit, it only takes a matter of minutes before I have some sort of aircraft scoot past. The airport shares common runways with the Air Force base, so in addition to civilian traffic I get to see an awful lot of C-17s, and the occasional C-130, F-16, F/A-18, or even a stray E-2, P-3, or KC-135.
But most of the time when I hear the whine of turbines it’s either an Airbus 310 or that most ubiquitous of airliners, a Boeing 737. And as I look up into a bright blue Charleston sky and see it in a gentle turn, wheels already down, it often takes me back to another bright blue sky one September morning 8 years ago.
It was across town at another place of employment, and my co-workers and I had spent the better part of the morning gathered around the TV set that we used for watching training videos, stunned and horrified as we watched the coverage of the unfolding situations in New York City, Washington, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. One employee was so shaken that she had to leave. She drove to her kid’s school, signed the child out, and went home. Back at work, gone was the usual grab-ass, tomfoolery, and light-hearted banter that were the stock and trade of the staff when no one was looking. No one really knew what to say, and we all just sort of numbly sat there collecting our own thoughts.
I tend to notice when things are out of their normal routine. Call it situational awareness if you want, but I noticed a few things rather quickly; the phones weren’t ringing, we had no customers in the store, and when I stepped outside I saw that there was virtually no traffic on Dorchester Road, one of the busiest thoroughfares in the Charleston area. Folks had ceased going about their normal business of the day, because there was definitely nothing normal about that day.
There’s nothing normal about people crashing hijacked airliners into buildings. There’s nothing normal about people jumping to their deaths rather than be incinerated. There’s nothing normal about watching two 110-story buildings crumble. There’s nothing at all normal about watching the fabric of sanity torn asunder.
One of the things that really spooked me though was how quiet it had become. And then it hit me; there was no more air traffic. No air force, no civilians, no nothing. I correctly deduced that they’d grounded all air traffic. And maybe 30 minutes later, I heard a jet.
I felt a momentary dread, wondering if some hijacked plane was headed towards a local target. And I looked up into that bright blue Carolina sky and saw that lonely 737, the last flight left airborne inbound to Charleston. And after it passed, the sky was dead silent again for a few days…
Here we are 8 years later, and it affects me still. I was hundreds of miles away, and I didn’t personally know anyone who perished that day. But when I look up and see a 737, it takes me back to that moment. I can’t even begin to think of what it’s like for the people who were there, and for the people who lost loved ones, friends, co-workers. I know that at least three of my regular readers are New Yorkers (Angel, DD2, and A Guy From Brooklyn), and my heart really goes out to you guys tonight.
I want to include a video that shows the World Trade Center as we all like to remember it, standing proudly in the New York skyline. It’s a clip for my favorite song in the world, Depeche Mode’s 1990 classic “Enjoy the Silence”. It was shot for American release, but was shelved in favor of a more artistic and surreal video by Anton Corbijn. In fact, it was probably only 3 or 4 years ago that I found out it even existed. It’s not even a really great video, with obvious lip-syncing and the mimed keyboard parts not quite matching the various parts of the song, but it was such a bright blue New York City sky when they filmed it on top of one of the towers, and like I said, it’s my favorite song.
And this is why we shouldn't close Gitmo. This is why you don't negotiate with terrorists. This is why you don't let convicted terrorists go free. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Don't repeat this...
My 2008 Tribute
My 2007 Tribute