Thursday, September 11, 2008
Are We Better Now?
I was driving to work on the beltway going south. I was running slightly late, and the traffic wasn't helping. I remember the day was sunny around 70 degrees; blue sky, no clouds.
I turned the radio on to listen to music. But on every station the news was on. I figured something must be up, so I listened. Apparently there was a fire near the top of one of the World Trade Center towers in New York.
My mind was swirling. "Hmmm. That can't be good. It's high up there. I wonder how firefighters will try to deal with this? I wonder if my cousin is okay? He works there, I think. They said something about a plane hitting it by accident or something. Was it a Cessna or small jet?"
I finally arrived at work. The office I share was open and nobody was around. I noticed my co-worker's computer had a web page up about the World Trade Center incident. I remember thinking, "This is bigger than how I was thinking it was." I walked down the hall, and almost all my co-workers where gathered in one office watching the news on television.
Then came the report that another plane just hit the Pentagon. "What's going on?," we were all thinking. It wasn't until another plane hit the other World Trade Center tower that we knew for sure that we were under attack.
I went from bewilderment to anger. "What are we going to do about this? Someone has raged war against us by killing civilians on purpose!" Then I saw people falling from the towers to their death. Then the grim collapse of both World Trade Center buildings. There was a collective gasp from all my co-workers when this happened.
We knew we witnessed the end. The end of what, we weren't sure at that moment. But it was the end of life as usual. Our world had changed. Our nation had changed. Our perspective had changed. However, I am not sure we've changed for the better. I am not sure we picked up the right lessons from this. I am not sure we have the will to remember the way we should.
Today is the 7th anniversary of an unprecedented direct attack on the United States of America. We survived. But are we better for it?