Epistemic #50

How could we ever forget?

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. For some of us, it was a lived event. For others, it’s a historical one. Either way, it was an inflection point for America.

Funny thing about 9/11: if it comes up in conversation, people will immediately start telling you their story. I’m no exception. Our state newspaper recently called for 250-word submissions. The passage below is what I sent in:

I work for an airline. In 2001, I was a new crew chief working the night shift in Portland, Oregon. I was sleeping when our phone started ringing off the hook. Our friends back east were already seeing the horror show unfold. They woke us up just in time to watch the 2nd plane hit. And our lives forever changed.

I was called into work early that day to “guard” our planes; an absurd request, given that none of us were armed, and our training at the time was to accommodate the demands of any threat (much like the flight crews on that day). All of that would change shortly.

In the meantime, I spent most of Tuesday, September. 11th, 2001 sitting on the hood of our station’s 20 yr. old truck listening to ABC News on AM radio.

People will tell you that it was beautiful that day, and it was. It was sunny in NYC and clear-and-a-million on the west coast. Quiet too; no noise on an airfield is both rare and disconcerting.

Late that night, we were still glued to our break room TV. The graveyard supervisor came in and wondered why we weren’t working. He’d left his previous shift in an ordinary world, slept all day, and returned that night to one that was now unrecognizable to any of us. 

One guy wordlessly pointed at the TV. He took a seat and watched with us all.

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If you feel like sharing your experiences from the day, I would love to hear them. Please comment below.

Wherever the day finds you, I hope the weather is as beautiful as it was that Tuesday morning in 2001.

And please spare a second for the flight crews who fought so valiantly for us before we even knew anything was wrong.