Marking a Sad Day
17 Years Later. It Still Hurts
Today is a terrible day in history. I have my own tradition, as they do in NYC. Here’s my post from back then in Comicopia (with slight edits):
March 1980: In a few months, I’ll have my Bar Mitzvah. For now, we went as a family to New York City. We had friends of the family there, friends my parents made during their honeymoon years earlier.
We went on a trip — actually our friends, Randy and me, and our dad. Mom stayed at our friends’ apartment. She was too nervous to take an elevator so many floors… we were going to visit buildings only open for a few months: the World Trade Center.
September 11th, 2001: It was just before 9 am that I opened my TV. I’d gone to bed having taped a program at midnight and now planned to watch it.
I turned to ABC as I always do, to record my soap opera that afternoon. Good Morning America was showing a special view of the World Trade Center, where one plane had accidentally (so they believed then) crashed into one of the Towers.
9:03 am we realized it wasn’t an accident: as we watched, not realizing right away, another plane raced into view from off-screen into the other Tower, a huge fireball erupting a second later.
Like the announcers, like anyone else watching, I was in shock. After a few minutes, I just hit ‘play’ on my VCR. I watched about an hour of WWE RAW, trying to erase the horrific image I’d just witnessed.
We got off the elevator at the Observation Deck. We’d risen so fast, I couldn’t even fathom the fact I was over a hundred floors up.
I still hadn’t developed as strong vertigo as I later had, but I was still both excited and nervous as I went to a window and looked bravely to the future and the city’s skyline.
I stopped my tape, to hear what else had happened. The first words I heard came from Peter Jennings: “The World Trade Center is destroyed.” Then, I watched with horror the footage of the towers as they imploded, and the realization struck me: there were still people in there.
I ran to the bathroom. That was the first instance I had of being violently ill.
The rest of the day (ultimately a week) my senses were bombarded with the images of this horrible event — and with the film of sick, soulless extremists in the Middle East dancing and rejoicing.
One of the many drawbacks of my health is chronic depression. If it’s hit me before, I made a point of ignoring it — but now it hit me like a lead weight.
I called Mike that evening, barely able to hold my grief in, to ask if he’d heard from our friend Alan (J. Porter) yet since he’s always flying somewhere. Mike hadn’t heard anything yet, but he reminded me that Allan J. Lappin from Compuserve worked in that area, and another longtime Forumite, Carl Petroantonio, was a border guard in Washington. We both had many people to track.
While talking with mom on the phone, I remembered a former high school classmate who’d contacted me by e-mail last year; he’d said he now worked in NYC. I sent him another message ASAP, to make sure if he was OK. Fortunately, he and his girlfriend are in LA right now — and he said his friends in the city are all right too.
Jackie mentioned on our Delphi Forum that she had friends who worked in the WTC too. We still don’t yet know what happened there.
Fortunately, the casualty count isn’t as high as it could have been. I’m not saying that makes it all right; any number of casualties over 0 is too many. However, there could have been up to 50,000 people there. Nearly 7,000 innocent victims, including those in the planes and rescue workers lost — it’s horrible, but thank Ghod there weren’t more.
Some people have compared this to Pearl Harbor, but you just can’t compare. Yes, both were awful, cowardly acts of evil, attacks with no warning — but the casualty numbers in Hawaii, the tremendous loss of life, just doesn’t compare.
As I write this, American and British forces are bombing terrorist targets in Afghanistan. By the time you read this, those responsible for this will possibly have been dealt with… but the damage is done. A wound has been carved into our souls that will take many years to heal. Right now, it hurts so much…
1980, I looked to the future, but now that innocence is gone.