Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 . . . . Contemplation

It's been my habit since we got a TV back in the 60s to turn on the Today Show in the morning for my morning news fix, replacing my earlier practice of carrying around a portable radio tuned to a news station.

I'd barely returned from a week long trip to San Diego on that September morning in 2001, turning on the TV around 7 a.m. I was not greeted with the usual music, the usual screaming crowds that drove my husband crazy til the day he died. My memory is of Matt Lauer, close up on the screen, with two towers and at least one column of smoke rising above them.

This morning I put my flag out.
Frankly, I'd never been aware of the Twin Towers' existence. They hadn't been there the last time I'd been to NYC. Of course I'd heard of the World Trade Center in connection with its bombing in 1993, but TV images of that focused on the underground hole and not on a building with a profile on the New York skyline.

I must have stayed glued to my TV on September 11 and the two subsequent days, listening to speeches, speculation, images played over and over, for there was nothing at all entered on my normally crowded calendar, not even mention of the attacks.

On September 14, I drove with my camper to Yosemite, for my first solo camping trip (without RV club). That first night there was an especially noisy rockfall and all the fear I'd been holding inside myself burst forth in the thought that I'd escaped human dangers, only to be crushed by nature. I was in a campground that had been severely damaged a couple of years earlier by a major slide. It took all the shaky nerve I had to run outside in my jammies to see what was happening. A few other curious heads poked out of tents and campers.

In the morning I asked a ranger where the slide had been. "We don't know," she said. "But no one was hurt."


Still, I was able to follow events in NYC and DC on a tiny TV, sparingly using battery power.

When I got home, I found out that a friend who'd attended the festivities in San Diego when I was there had been on his way home to Brooklyn when the attack happened. I forget whether his plane had already landed (La Guardia?) or headed there immediately when all aircraft were grounded. He made his way home from the airport primarily on foot.

In 2008 I became friends with a woman who'd been working in her office at Goldman Sachs, across the street from the WTC, on 9/11. Eventually, she told me her story of that day.

This week I've been watching specials with other people's stories of that day, people who were there. Some I've recorded on the DVR, maybe to transfer them to DVD as keepers. Did you hear that 500,000 people were evacuated from Manhattan by a fleet of private boats in nine hours? Or that there are 9000 bone fragments being analyzed 7 days a week to identify as remains of the missing? New technology is allowing new IDs to be made.

There's a mammoth irony that events of 9/11 mean so much to America and the Western World, yet surveys in Afghanistan found few people had ever heard of it, and when it was explained, didn't understand why our having one building blown up was good reason to blow up a lot of theirs.

When I bought my season tickets to the community theatre in the Little City Down The Hill, I chose the first Sunday performance of each play. I might have chosen another day if I'd been paying attention, so I wouldn't miss any of the commemorative events, but . . .

The highway is lined with flags. More on my return,
as there are more places to stop going that direction.

As it turns out, the play was perfect for the day. It was "Tuesdays with Morrie." It's based on the relationship between Morrie Schwartz, a college professor, and Mitch Albom, one of Morrie's former students and a driven sports writer. As Morrie is dying from ALS, he leads Mitch to explore what's really important in life. (In brief.)

The quiet set before the play

It's a true story, so you know the outcome is sad. But this one-act play is beautifully acted by Thomas F. Maguire as Morrie and Benjamin Adriano as Mitch, the only actors in the play, and there is abundant humor between them, in Morrie's parting journey, to make it more uplifting than sad.

Our little town proudly displays the flag.

See you later.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Lee,
    I love those interesting tidbits you found, like the private boats evacuating such large numbers and the bone fragments. I remember hearing about the search and rescue dogs going into distress because they could detect the scent of humans but couldn't find them. Volunteers laid in crevices so the dogs could find a few 'living' bodies.

    I sort of felt the way you did about the rock slide when Tony got thrown from the horse. It was a - 'you mean we survived 5300 miles and a rogue grizzly just to succumb to a pet!'