Where Were You on September 11th?


The world is commemorating a day that has affected every day that followed for some time.  It brought us things like “the new normal” and the “war on terror.”  It sparked invasions of at least two countries and will forever define the Presidency of George W. Bush.  Exactly how historians will judge it, all of it, remains to be seen.  One thing is for sure, on that day and the days that followed, everything everywhere changed.  And everyone felt it.  Everyone remembers where he or she was on that day.

I was in downtown Washington, DC just a few blocks from the US Capitol Building.  I got worried calls from my family telling me to get out, to go home.  I finished out the day at the office, I was in charge of the transmission schedules back then and I felt like I needed to be there.  My family didn’t agree.

At the end of the day, I took the approximately 7 mile walk home.  The streets were bare.  Everyone I saw seemed to be walking toward the suburbs.  A gracious fellow commuter was kind enough to let me borrow his mobile phone to call my wife.  Moments before that, I had snapped the photo below (with my Palm Pix camera) of the Pentagon burning on the horizon.  I felt like I needed to call my wife to make sure that there was sanity and the warm comfort of the “old normal” still present somewhere.  As if to confirm that there wasn’t, after not smoking for four years, I bought a pack on the walk home.

These days, whenever someone vexed with America’s actions under the Bush administration, asks me why Bush does what he does, this picture comes to mind.  I saw that plume on the horizon.  I’m sure President Bush saw it too.  Even more importantly, when I went back to the office on September 12th, I saw the US Capitol, standing on the edge of the National Mall, tall and stark white.  There were nervous moments the day before that I wasn’t sure I would ever see it again.

As presidential poll numbers plummet and the roars of crowds ready for “change” swallow the lame duckness of his presidency, President Bush must take comfort in the fact that the Capitol is still there.  He must also take comfort in the fact that he presided over a country and allowed it to pass another 7 years without attack and up to the point of change – on its own terms.  Not the kind of change imposed on America September 11th, 2001.

Pentagon on the horizon 9-11-01
Pentagon on the horizon 9-11-01
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