Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11 Attacks - Tenth Anniversary

As I write this, ten years after the September 11, 2001 attacks,  I am doing something similar to that day ten years ago.  I am sitting at my computer.   Most of us remember where we were, and what we were doing,  on that  cool, clear Tuesday morning.   I was on the yahoo news website when the page updated and a small "breaking news"  link appeared in red.  Shortly after,  I tuned in to the CNN cable TV channel and watched,  in fear and fascination,  the events of that day as they unfolded on TV.  Manhattan, being compact and a hub of television production,  had almost instantaneous video coverage after the collision of the first plane with the  World Trade Center's North Tower at 8:46 AM.   At first, I thought it was an accidental collision.  When the second plane collided with the South Tower at 9:03 AM,  I knew immediately it was a coordinated attach by hijackers.  The flight path of the second plane was clearly controlled and targeted - it reminded me of the film footage of the Japanese kamikaze planes flying into our ships in WW2.  The kamikaze fighter planes,  although loaded with high explosives, were tiny and light compared to a modern passenger jet.  Ominously,  all the hijacked planes originated on the East Coast and were flying transcontinental routes to California.  Their size, speed, and the large fuel load made them heavy and as lethal as hundreds of kamikaze fighters.   The choice of flights was far from random.  Someone had designed, organized and implemented a horrible plan.  And the results transcended all the planners expectations by a wide margin.   It started with perfect weather for neophyte pilots.   And then we learned  of the events in Washington, DC and near Shanksville, PA.  How many more were left? Nobody knew.   Fighter jets were scrambled from Otis Air Base.  For days after, a rustic quiet in the skies was punctuated by the roar of military jet engines.

Like many with family and friends in New York, I was concerned about where they were and how they were doing.  I also felt closer to my fellow New Yorkers than I ever before.  My thoughts went first to my mother who used to take the bus down to South Ferry - right past the World Trade Center.  Telephone service became rapidly saturated - especially outgoing service.   I talked with my mother shortly after the attacks - from the downtown bus, she had seen the pall of smoke rising from  the Battery Park area.   In the following days, she told me about the notices, many with color pictures of missing relatives,  taped to the lamp posts in her neighborhood.   The sadness was excruciating.    About two weeks later, I took the train to New York.   It really hit home as I walked past those notices - so many pictures of young and vibrant people - they were never to return.  Shakespeare's most famous soliloquy came to mind -  they never had a choice.   ...The undiscovered country from whose bourn  No traveller returns, puzzles the will,....

The New York Times' coverage was very detailed especially regarding the unraveling of the plot, people and organizations behind the attacks.   And, of course, the local stories were heart-rending.  There were many stories of close-calls:   those who missed flights of the four planes - people with early dentist appointments who arrived later than normal to work - those with flexible working hours .  But mostly there were stories about the victims and their families.  The good news, which is not mentioned enough,  is that over 50,000 people worked in the WTC towers.  At the time of the attacks about 18,000 people were in the towers.  About 200,000 people visited the WTC complex daily.   Three thousand people died -  it could have been much worse.

The planes hit high up on the WTC towers.  greenhorn pilots did not have the skills to fly in low....tbc

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Tenth Anniversary of Surgery

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