Friday, 11 September 2009

September 11

I was going to post a beautiful email that my Aunt Linda wrote shortly after the attacks in 2001...but it appears I've lost it. She passed away in April 2008 of cancer. I really wanted to pay tribute to her and to NY after September 11, 2001. But it's gone.

I will be far from alone in posting about what happened in my home country 8 years ago today. There will be others who were affected in much greater ways than myself. Yet, as an American and as someone who witnessed the 2nd plane enter the World Trade Center on the Today Show while I was getting ready for work, I was affected. Life became different.

It was the most surreal day I've ever experienced. I wasn't that long back from Kenya. I thought that I must have accidently put my TV on a movie channel rather than the news. Once I finally did realize what was happening I had to go to work. Somehow it didn't seem appropriate to just go to work but we hadn't been told anything different so off I went. At the time I was the only staff Graphic Designer at Seacoast Church. It was quiet, but busy when I arrived at work. All of the TV monitors through out the campus were turned on. The sanctuary was open for people to come and pray or cry or think or all of the above.
I had deadlines, so I had work to do, but it all felt a bit irreverent. I was also worrying about my Aunt Linda, I wasn't sure where her offices were or if she was anywhere near the Twin Towers. I didn't actually hear from her for days -but in that case no news was good news.
Loads of friends and church members were stopping by all day. Everyone seemed to be in shock.
My friend and roommate Jessica Hamilton and I went for lunch at Wild Wing Cafe on Coleman Blvd. All of their TVs were on too. They were serving and we needed lunch, but again the feeling was surreal. I think we tried to talk about something else.

By that night Jessica & I were thinking of the people stranded at the airport. The pair of us and another friend borrowed a big cooler filled it with ice and drinks and drove out to the airport. We got there a bit late, all of the passengers had been taken to local hotels - no one was going to be traveling in the air. In fact, my mother was supposed to be returning home from visiting my brother on the Marine base in Japan, but they were on lock down and there was a complete ban on all flights. My mom wasn't coming home, and we didn't know for how long.

The country was galvanized. Unified by fear and loss. Life changed. People became afraid to travel. Security became the obsession. People became afraid of people who looked "like muslims". People were losing jobs because of the economic crisis that followed. Home became a priority. Comfort food replaced trendy cuisine. The late night comedy shows were taken off of the air until it was deemed appropriate.

In a state that had no physical reminders of the attacks of 9/11 thing seemed to carry on quickly. Around the world magazines, websites and news shows took advantage of the horrific images and videos. People toured ground zero. It was a spectacle rather then catastrophe.

I do not look at photos, watch videos or buy souvenirs. I think it is disrespectful and calloused to do so. I do wear a tshirt that pays tribute to the Twin Towers, I wear it because it belonged to my Auntie. I watched Flight 93 and now I will not watch any other film about September 11th.
Not because I want to forget. But because I want to remember.

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