Remember! Remember 9/11, 2001! That's what the media are all saying today.
You know what? I hadn't forgotten.
9/11/2001 came early for me. I was in San Diego attending a conference, although at the time I was living in Nashua, NH. I got up around 6:30 am, after a largely sleepless night. I though nothing of that, it's quite common for me sleep poorly away from home. After showering and dressing, I left my hotel room overlooking the Dan Diego harbor, and called an elevator. It was slightly before 7am, Pacific time.
I entered an elevator containing a somewhat bewildered woman, who asked me did I know that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center? I didn't, and assuming it was probably a light plane doing little damage, I really didn't think any more about it until I reached the hotel dining room and took a table, waiting for another 2 people to join me - it was a business breakfast.
In the restaurant, all the TV's were on with the sound turned up, and everyone was watching, which is unusual. I finally saw what was going on - replays of the 2nd airplane hitting the South Tower, and as I watched, it collapsed, live and on TV. I heard about several other airplanes in the air, believed to have been hijacked (something I know a fair amount about!), and after my guests arrived, we watched the North Tower collapse as well. I don't remember if we talked business or not.
I went back to my room, and turned on CNN, watching as the story came together - 4 airplane's destroyed, 1 in a crash and 3 crashed deliberately into buildings. That there was another one (erroneously) thought to be in the control of the terrorists. I looked out of the 35th floor window at the harbor and thought about how vulnerable these high-rise buildings are. Around mid-morning I heard that the conference was canceled for that day, and soon afterwords, my TV started making a strange sound every 2 seconds or so. After puzzling about it, I happened to look out of the window again, and just below me in the harbor was a guided missile destroyer, with its search radar turning (once every 2 seconds or so), and its anti-aircraft missiles on the launchers and ready to fire.
Strangely, I was originally intending to go from Boston to Los Angeles on the morning of September 11th. I don't know if I was booked on American Flight 11, I do know that I looked at the departure time and worked out that with Route 3 under construction, I would have to leave at some awfully early time, and changed my plans to depart the night before, get better sleep and fit in my breakfast meeting. I also decided to skip LA and go straight to San Diego. It might have saved my life.
I know no-one who died, although a man from my church in Nashua was on one of the BOS-LAX flights that ended at Ground Zero, and a woman who worked for me was on a flight out to join me in CA that morning. Her flight was recalled before taking off, but that was a close call. For both of us.
With all the airlines grounded, I had no way to get home. Some of my colleagues rented a car, and drove for 5 days right across the country. They arrived the same day I did. I rented a car, and drove to Phoenix Az, where my wife's sister lives, and stayed with them for a couple of days until I could get a flight to BOS via DFW. The flight itself was bit tense - almost empty, but every time somebody got up to go the restroom, the whole plane would watch them, especially if they looked even slightly Mediterranean........
My car was where I had left it, which was a pleasant surprise. I had heard that the airport had towed thousands of cars parked closer that a certain distance from a terminal. My inability to find a good parking space saved my car from that ignominy. I arrived home Sunday evening.
I'm all for remembering. I just don't want to be reminded to remember every second of today, the 10th anniversary. I have never forgotten. I also remember the Holocaust (although I wasn't alive then) and the Alamo (I live in Texas). The only reason 10 years is anything different from 9 or 11 is that we all (mostly) have 10 fingers and count in base 10. In Base 2, that is 1010. In Base 4, it is 22. The numbers *don't matter*.
I have not forgotten why we are fighting in Afghanistan, and despite being a political Liberal, I applaud what our forces are doing there, and I was very satisfied when the SEALS killed Bin Laden. Iraq - well that was all about the Bush family using the US Armed Forces to settle a personal grudge against Saddam. Close to 300,000 people died as a result, not just the 3,000 on 9/11, let's remember that too.
I haven't forgotten.
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