At first I thought it was a joke. In hindsight, I don’t know why thinking a plane crashing into one of the towers could be funny but I wasn’t sure what else to make of it. Why would a plane hit one of the World Trade Center towers? There was no other explanation at the time that sounded believable, except for pilot error.
By the time the second plane hit, there was no question as to what we were dealing with. We had already learned that it wasn’t a small bi-plane that had hit but a hijacked passenger jet. In the office, a lot of us retreated to the room with a television and started watching the footage. We were shocked beyond comprehension. I had only been at my job for a week and so found myself huddled around a 17″ television with strangers. In truth, we were one people then, horrified and scared, uncertain as to what was going to happen next. I watched in horror as both towers fell on live television, the consequences of that not fully realized until later. It was one of the scariest days of my life.
All of the stories from that day, transcend my small footprint.
I realize that this blog, myself, my family are a mere microscopic spec in this tragic American story. It seems pompous to think that by blogging about it, I could have anything to add; I was 25 miles from the Pentagon and nearly 150 from NYC. There have been some incredible stories of survival, Flight 93’s heroic takeover of the plane, the firefighters and police offers that gave their lives to save others and the multitude of people who were affected in some way by a loss of a loved one. I didn’t have any of that, except some “Where were you memories?” and a little lost sleep. It was my son, though, who changed my mind and made me write.
We spent September 10th, 2011 like any other morning, chatting and watching a little television. A commercial break ended and The Today Show came back on with their continuing coverage of 9/11. My 5 year-old son turned to me, and while using his arms to demonstrate, said “So Dad which was it? Did two planes hit each tower or one plane hit one and then another?”
I fired up the laptop and spent the next 10 minutes showing him footage from that day. He saw the moments of impact, when the explosions sent orange balls of flame rolling out of the towers. He saw the two pillars of smoke rising high into the sky. He saw people throw themselves from the upper floors of the towers and free fall to their deaths. He saw one of the towers collapse and the dust storm that followed. I took my time to explain so he could understand and I think he did. As I was about to close the laptop, a pre 9/11 image of the towers was up on the screen. My son furrowed his brow a little, bit his lower lip and said: “Dad, those towers sure were beautiful weren’t they?”
Yes son…they were.