Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11: Can You Believe It's 11 Years Later?

Day 35 -- Sept. 11, 2012

Today, I'm 193.4 pounds of rolling thunder.

Eleven years ago, the world for most Americans changed dramatically.

Until then, most people went about their lives not giving much notice or concern to national security.

Sept. 11, 2001 changed all that. Suddenly everything was different, and an era of innocence was lost.

A lot of people spent today remembering the tragedy of 11 years ago when terrorists attacked the United States. I heard a lot of people recalling what they were doing when they heard the news that a plane had flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

I remember it exactly because of the selfish thought I had at the time. I had just turned on the road that led to my job when the radio said a plane had crashed into one of the towers.

At the time, it was my job to figure out what image would go on the front page of the next day's newspaper. I remember thinking how over the years small planes had accidentally hit building such as the Empire State Building. What the radio news account did not include was the fact that it was a major airliner and the tower was on fire.

Shortly after I made it to the office the second tower was hit. Then the Pentagon. And you could see the look of panic start to set in in a newsroom filled with journalists who had faced the toughest of stories without flinching, but this was something unknown.

At the time, we had no idea the scope of the attacks. Because the attacks came on so many fronts, we began fearing for our own lives and the lives of our families.

By 9:20 the decision was made to put out an afternoon extra edition. By 11 a.m. the edition rolled off the presses, and we had begun a news cycle that wouldn't end for at least 48 more hours. 

One of the most heartening stories I remember from the tragedy came weeks later when school children in South Carolina raised money to replace a fire engine from Red Hook in New York that had been destroyed when the towers fell. 

The effort was payback from a post-Civil War gesture that came from New Yorkers who replaced a fire engine for the city of Columbia, S.C.

A fire truck is no cheap purchase, so you can imagine how many pennies and dimes the kids had to raise to buy the truck. But with lots of help, they bought the truck and went to New York to be in a parade.

Today's run was great because I still have the freedom to ramble about. Although times aren't nearly so innocent, we still have freedoms that other nations can only dream of. 

So enjoy the day. And if you see the world's slowest human out on the road, give me a wave.

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