Remembering 9/11

What follows is my monologue from today’s edition of The Roderic Deane Show:

I remember that day distinctly. I had just dropped my son off at his elementary school. He was in 3rd grade at the time and his mother was out of state visiting relatives. As I pulled away from the school, I heard an odd news flash on the morning news. I played that broadcast at the start of today’s program. Hal Jay, the host of the morning show on WBAP New/Talks 820 on the AM dial, announced that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. Details were sketchy. It was right before 8am, 9am on the East Coast, when this news came. At first, my assumption was that it must have been a small plane.

As I drove the relatively short distance to my office, WBAP had another announcement. A 2nd plane had hit the other tower of the World Trade Center. Honest to God, my very first thought at that moment was Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network. News was still quite sketchy as I parked my car at work and walked into the office.

The area where my cubicle resided was empty. At the time, the feeling I had was one of displacement. Where was everybody? I’m not usually the first to arrive in the office so it was unnerving to think that I was the only one around. When I walked to the far end of the building and entered the cafeteria, I learned where everyone was. The cafeteria was packed with other employees, quietly watching the unfolding events on the single widescreen TV. After buying coffee and surveying the room, I found my workmates and sat down at their table. Nobody was saying a word, transfixed as they were on the news. Although there were conversations going on, it was not the normal morning bluster.

I sat down to muted greetings. After watching for a little while, gasps and exclamations erupted throughout the cafeteria. We all watched in stunned disbelief as the South Tower began to collapse. There was no commentary that I remember, only exclamations like “Oh My God” and “Holy Jesus!” Our collective experience was one of sheer horror at what we were watching on TV.

In what seemed like a short amount of time, we were suddenly viewing another image of a collapsing Tower. I remember asking a co-worker “Is this a re-run?” “No”, she said, “that’s the NORTH Tower!” We sat in stunned silence with hands covering our mouths as the tower collapsed in a billowing cloud of dust. It was the most gut-wrenching sight I had ever witnessed.

After gathering their composure, people began leaving the cafeteria to return to their work-stations, undoubtedly to check email and voice messages. I knew that the day was going to be very unproductive and I was right. No one could focus on work. Everyone was either on the phone, huddled around radios, or scouring the Internet.

It was unbelievably difficult not to keep thinking about the images I had just seen and to imagine all the people who may have just lost their lives. A few co-workers and I left our work area after checking email and voicemail and returned to the cafeteria. We all needed to know what was going on, even though there wasn’t anything new to learn.

__________

Here’s the timeline of that morning’s events (all times Eastern):

8:46am – American Airlines Flight 11 strikes the North Tower

9:03am – United Airlines Flight 175 strikes the South Tower

9:37am – American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon

9:59am – The South Tower collapses

10:06am – United Airlines Flight 93 crashes near Shanksville, PA

10:28am – The North Tower collapses

It’s very difficult to realize that from the time that first plane struck the North Tower and when it finally collapsed in the end, a mere 1 hour and 42 minutes had passed. It seemed like an eternity at the time.

The rest of the day is a blur to me, but my experiences are not what’s important. I only offer them as background for all our recollections while watching the tragic events of that day unfold. I also want to share with you some stories of those who were much closer to the events than you and I may have been, in remembrance of them.

You listen to the show HERE.

Update: I inadvertantly referred to Flight 175 as an American Airlines’ flight. It was actually a United Airlines’s flight and I have corrected the reference above.

Cynicism about the current terrorist threat

I’m normally not a cynical person. However, something about the current terrorism threat bothers me. We just can’t seem to get our arms around this plot. I have no doubt that our intelligence agencies found some concerning information to pursue, but why was it made public?

There doesn’t seem to be any imminent danger, although the thought of a “dirty-bomb” is quite disquieting. Obviously, New York and Washington, D.C. would be obvious targets on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and yet, my question is, why would a terrorist risk it?

If terrorists were intent on blowing something up to commemorate 9/11, why attempt to do it where security will be the highest? The Times Square bomber left a smoking vehicle behind that was quickly secured and dismantled. Although he seemed to be an educated person, his actions were those of a dill-weed and totally inept. Why should we assume anything different with this present threat? Why would they attempt an attack on our center when an attack on our rear would be just as effective?

Although I worry about acts of terrorism within the midsection of the country, that would be too obvious a target for terrorists. While the welcoming nature of the heartland might convince a terrorist that we are ripe for attack, I doubt if any Middle-Eastern male would be given a “Hey, how’s it going?” without further scrutiny. Such a warm greeting would undoubtedly be accompanied by an immediate reflexive action, as the strong hand is readied for a clean draw of a hidden pistol.

No, as I think about it, the terrorists are definitely better-served by focusing on the East or West coast. At the very least they should target a state with restrictive gun laws. Why attempt a terrorist attack where granny might pull a gun out of her purse and shoot you the second you say “Allahu Akbar”?

I don’t mean to make light of this present threat. I am on pins and needles as we commemorate 9/11 with the hope that all is okay at the end of the day. But I still have a nagging feeling about something.

There’s an old maxim in trailing criminals: follow the money. In this case, who has the most to gain by putting the public in panic-mode on the 10th anniversary of 9/11? Who has the most to gain by limiting the crowds at commemorative events for 9/11? Who has already stated that any 10th anniversary events regarding 9/11 should not be “just about us”?

I’m just askin….