Remembering 9/11

10 years ago I decided I needed to go into work early; something seemed important. On 9/11, I was scheduled to fly to San Francisco in the afternoon, but went into the office to try and catch up on a couple of things (in those days you could get to the airport at the very last minute).

I was one of two people in the office at the time. I remember Annie, our office manager coming in and telling me about the first plane (some stupid recreational pilot I thought); and then listening to KYW News radio when the second plane hit (oh shit.)

The rest of the day is a blur to me. I remember not wanting to fly that day, as if that were going to be an option. I remember that the Internet was useless, and that our only visual line to the world was little black and white 13″ TV which didn’t have cable.

We stayed at work that day – not that much work was done. I specifically remember spending a lot of time with my co-workers in that conference room.

I kind of wished I had just walked out and planted myself in front of a TV all day. Even without doing that, the images are seared in my mind to this day.

And while that day feels like it was just yesterday, so much has passed, so many lives have been lost, and so many questions still remain, that it also feels like another lifetime.

What are your memories of that day?

9/11: Five years later

sunrise.jpg9/11/01 – I was preparing that morning to fly from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Listening this morning to the re-broadcasst of the news, the confusion of that morning comes right back. It’s weird that through all the warning signs (World Trade Center 1993 bombing, Oklahoma City, the Unabomber) that we really didn’t view ourselves as a target; 9/11 made us aware. Five years later it doesn’t seem as if we’ve addressed our problems.

It has always been easier in the U.S. to get money to clean up after a disaster than it is to get money to prevent one. We’re in a “war” the President says; a war that is unlike any other war. “We must remain vigilant”. Yet I can ride Amtrak from Washington, D.C. through Baltimore, Philadelphia and into New York City without my baggage and ID being checked. New York City subways are monitored, but trains outside of NYC are not a concern. There are concerns about our ports.

To effectively protect this country, it will cost money, a whole lot of money. And politicians, loathe to raise taxes, with an expensive war to pay for, and an American city to rebuild, don’t have the will power that it takes to make the changes necessary to fix the problems. We’ve spent so much time focusing on the threat of Muslim fundementalists we forget that the last major terrorist attack on this country prior to 9/11 was Oklahoma City in 1995. We focus on air travel as a threat, but forget that most travel and commerce is down over land and sea and present a much greater target.

Over 3,000 people were killed that day. What we’ve learned from 9/11 is that our government is not good at planning and protecting – and what Hurriane Katrina showed us is that we haven’t gotten any better.

What will it take for our leaders to finally step up?