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September 11, 2009

Remembering the victims of 9/11

Eight years ago today, a monstrosity occurred. Two jet planes were flown into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and one was intended for either the Capitol or the White House but heroic passengers who had heard about what happened with the first three stormed the cockpit and brought it down in a grassy field in Pennsylvania.

Has it really been eight years? It's hard to believe. Just like our grandparents with Pearl Harbor, we will always remember where we were that horrible day. What we were doing when we learned the news and just stopped, stunned that something like this could happen. Sadly, too many people seem to have forgotten what the deaths of almost 3000 innocent civilians meant, and continues to mean, to the world around us.

Eight years. Many people already count 9/11 as "history" when really it's not. The repercussions of this attack are still being felt. The effects are still being debated. What we should do about it is still a matter for discussion. The media was outstanding during the first few hours, all of the networks giving themselves over to nothing but coverage of the attack and its aftermath, with the entire country wondering if more attacks were coming. But it didn't take too long before images like the below were scrubbed from most broadcasts.

But we should never forget. This was not a "tragedy." The tsunami of 2006 was a tragedy, nature taking its toll on the human population. This was an attack, and I'm just thankful that another one hasn't happened in the US since.

So where were you that day? My condolences if you lost someone you knew and loved that day. Thankfully, I didn't. But the impact was still immediate. On September 11, 2002, I wrote the piece I'm reposting below. The memory is seared in my mind, and it will never go away.


I was going to do my best to ignore today. Just avoid the television, do my own personal remembering and pretend that today is like any other day.

However, having watched a little bit of the ceremonies this morning as I was getting ready for work, I felt like I had to put something down into words, to work out exactly how I'm feeling about all of this.

I remember it like it was yesterday, as I'm sure we all do. I hadn't turned on the TV that morning, deciding to instead mess around on the computer. At the time, my home page was the Astronomy Picture of the Day site, rather than CNN, so I certainly didn't hear anything about what happened at the time.

I got ready for work, got on the bus, sat down, turned on my mp3 player, and read my book. I wasn't really listening to people, so they could have been talking about the events in New York City amongst themselves, but there was no general outcry or loud discussion of what was happening. Nobody said "if you've got a radio, turn to the CBC!" The bus driver, if he knew about it, wasn't mentioning it. I was blissfully unaware of what was happening. The time was 8:20 am Pacific time, almost three hours after the first plane hit. Little did I know, as I unlocked the office door, what was awaiting me.

When I opened the door, I was greeted by my coworkers with a "did you hear what happened?" I said no, I hadn't been listening to the radio. They said what they had heard, and I immediately ran into my office and fired up my browser. I went directly to CNN and started reading about it. I opened my email (I'm on the CNN "Breaking News" mailing list) and downloaded what must have been 30 or so "Breaking News" bulletins. I sat there in shock, reading about what had happened. The enormity of the situation just ground me to a halt. Tears started to seep from my eyes. I tried to carry on with my job and answer the other important email that I had received, but I kept getting drawn back to the Web.

One of my director's friends was walking down the hall. She glanced into my office and saw that I was about to collapse. She rushed in and put her arms around me so fast that she actually spilled some coffee on a couple of important papers on my desk. Neither one of us cared. She just held me for a few moments until I collected myself again.

I had trouble keeping my composure for the next hour or so. We all gathered in the main office and shared hugs all around. Being the only American in the office, I think they realized that I was affected even more then them (yes, it was horrific for everybody, but this was my home these bastards had attacked), so they were watching out for me all day. As the day wore on and we went back to work, I would keep them updated on any news that I had heard. I'm not sure how I made it through the day, but I did.

I got home and held my wife very close for a long time. We watched what was going on for the next couple of nights when we were home. Part of me wanted to tune it out for a bit, but the other part of me wanted to know the minute anything else happened. Finally, after a couple of days, we spent the night watching something else or listening to music (I don't remember which, I just remember switching off the news).

For a couple of weeks afterward, even though I was for the most part fine, I would look out at the mountains in North Vancouver. Sometimes, I would just be thankful that such beauty still existed in the world. However, sometimes, I would picture explosions, bombs, and airplanes crashing there. I would hear an aircraft overhead, and imagine it crashing right on top of our neighbourhood (it didn't help that something like that happened only a couple of weeks later anyway). I'm not sure when those images stopped occurring.

I didn't lose anybody I knew in these horrible attacks. I am forever grateful for that. I can only feel for the people who did. While I don't know in "real life" anybody who lost friends or family, I have plenty of on-line acquaintances who did. I can't say that I know how they feel. All I can do is be there if they need me, if they want to talk. I sometimes feel like I shouldn't have been so affected, that I didn't lose anybody so why was I so upset? That feeling, thankfully, doesn't last long, as I realize that we all lost something that day. If we didn't lose friends or family, we still lost a bit of innocence. We are forever changed by this.

I hope we never forget that.

Thank you for reading. It's helped to write this.

*Edit* When I say the media was outstanding above, I generally meant the fact that they didn't sink back into their generally liberal attitudes toward most of the news. They didn't do as well when it came to things like bringing up rumours without checking them and things like that. It was just nice to see that the media actually appeared to be on *our* side for once.


  1. I can't believe nobody has commented on your blog. I still have a copy of it & cry every time I read it. I wanted to hug you so much that day. I felt your pain so much. I've kept the copy all these years & every once in awhile I find it & read it. I have to confess something to you. I have wanted for years to have this put in Bill Wundrem's column on the date. I was afraid you would be upset so never did it. After reading this yesterday I wish I'd done it. I have shown it to some customers & they all thought it should be in the paper. Would you be upset with me if I did it? There's my confession for the day. Be honest about how you feel okay? Hope you get more comments.

  2. I was wondering why you were checking this post so often yesterday. :)

    Of course you can submit it. Let me know if it ever does get published. I always like to have my name in the paper. :)

    Thank you for offering to do that. I didn't get a lot of traffic yesterday at all, much less on this post, so I'm not sure what happened yesterday. Oh well. It felt good to write it, and ultimately that's the reason I'm doing this.


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