Seven years ago on this day, I woke up with a jolt. I was in bed, mentally preparing myself for the day ahead. It was to be a normal day, I assumed. I had a few errands to run in the morning before heading downtown to my part-time job at the McGill Archives. As my thoughts drifted over these things, the phone rang. It was my aunt asking if I was watching TV. Her voice was panicky, out of breath.
"Do you have the TV on?" she asked.
"No, why?" I asked in return.
"Turn on CNN. America is at war. This is war." Her voice was shaking, nervous. "Turn on CNN."
I rushed downstairs and saw my grandfather sitting by the radio, his head tilted toward the speaker. He looked up and said, "Some problem in New York. A plane hit a building."
I turned on the TV and for the next few hours, I sat there with my grandfather watching in horror. Breaking News. The Twin Towers. The Pentagon. Planes. Aflame. Smoke. Helicopters. Sirens. Emergency vehicles. Police directing traffic. FBI Agents with guns drawn, circling evidence on the New York streets (a plane tire here, unknown bits and pieces there). People jumping from the buildings to escape the terrible flames. Some held hands and jumped. People on streets running, coughing, soot caked around their noses and mouths. Men in business suits, women in dresses and average joes and janes; no matter the gender or status, there was palpable terror in their eyes.
There were the street reporters asking questions to those fleeing, attempting to get a sound bite. But the sight of quivering lips and pale faces spoke louder than any sound bite.
Then the unthinkable. The Towers collapsed. The Towers were gone. The spirit of the Towers, that what made them World Trade Centers, was smothered into dust and debris. Like ghosts, the dust and debris haunted the blocks of Manhattan worming their way through the streets. CNN reporter Aaron Brown, standing on a rooftop across the city watching the towers crumble, said in eerie voice: "My God. There are no words."
Seven years later, and still there are no words to describe what happened. There are no words to comfort those who lost friends and family. There are no words. There are some, however, who seek comfort in believing that the attacks were an inside job, a conspiracy. There is some solace in thinking this way, I suppose, because we can believe that there are no faceless enemies out there. Only the enemy next door, the one we know. That is more comforting, I suppose.
The attacks changed the world. From the way we travel to the way we see the world.
But as I sit and type this, a blue jay calls out, the wind shakes leaves from trees, and a lawnmower is heard in the distance.
When there are no words to say, it is best just to listen. The good in the world will be heard again.
[Thanks to Jill for her nice 9/11 post]
about the author
- David Kemper
- I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.
I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.
I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.