What came after.

I suppose we can all say what we were doing when it happened. I’ll spare you my recollections; they’re unremarkable and who really cares? What I think about at this distance isn’t just what happened that day, it’s what happened after. A mental data dump in no particular order, with a media-centric focus:

It was the beginning of the end of John Bob Edwards on “Morning Edition.” (Yes, yes — trivial.) I remember driving to work, wondering why the hell NPR wasn’t live with this, when I had just heard a phoner with their correspondent in the Pentagon, who’d said, “I just heard something. I think I have to go now.” It was the plane hitting, somewhere on the other side of the building. (That’s the amazing attack, to me. It’s one thing for a half-trained pilot to fly into a building standing 110 stories high. But to essentially bellyflop into one with only five floors? Damn that guy’s luck, for sure.) But here it was, after 9 a.m., and “Morning Edition” had segued into Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, and if there’s a voice you really don’t want to hear when your adrenaline is racing and you want information, dammit, it’s that one. I think Keillor would agree. NPR had no structure in place to go live for national breaking news. That would change pretty soon, and Mr. Sleepy Morning Avuncularity was shoved aside.

Flying went from bad to worse. I remember racing onto a flight in the ’80s, a remarkable flight that didn’t last long — Fort Wayne to Toledo on Delta. Fourteen minutes in the air, $14 one-way. That doesn’t seem possible, that price, but that’s my recollection. J.C. was in Toledo for a night, working on a station there, and I left work early to meet him. I was running late and blasted through the terminal with my carry-on, a newsboy’s delivery bag. Threw it on the machine’s belt and zipped through the metal detector, and was the last one aboard, while the stewardess tap-tapped her foot impatiently at the jetway. Total time from parking lot to fasten-seat-belts, about five minutes. Now when I have to fly, I rise hours early, remember to keep my ID handy and always wear slip-on shoes. I remember flying maybe a year afterward, watching a TSA agent wanding a septuagenarian in Newark, the wand beeping at his belt line, the old man plaintively barking, “It’s my artificial hip!” Well, at least we didn’t profile.

It was a dark, dark night for my section of the newspaper — features. Jesus Christ, but my brain nearly exploded, seeing what the features editors of the world came up with to help us process the pain. They made Sports look profound. I distinctly recall one around Christmastime on “the new comfort,” which quoted a Land’s End representative saying yes, they were selling more cashmere throws and other soft things this season than last, and yes, it seemed to indicate the nation planned to spend its first post-9/11 winter on the couch with the covers pulled up tight. Imagine if the Slanky or Bleeves or, what’s it called? Right, the Snuggie — imagine if we’d had Snuggies then. The mind reels.

But the worst was the Wall Street Journal features section, which ran a story saying more people were eating in as part of the new comfort and new austerity, but it turns out that’s not much of a savings over restaurants, because have you priced a set of All-Clad lately? Nine hundred dollars! And here’s some girl who invited some friends over for a dinner party, and was shocked at how much truffles cost, and don’t even get her started on lemongrass. One magazine had a short item on how the Carrie Bradshaws of Gotham were changing their fitness routines as a result of the attacks. One had started swimming laps, so she could make her escape from Manhattan by water, if necessary. I only wish I were making it up.

This marked the rise of the blogosphere, too. Everyone wanted a blog, so they could tell their story and share their feelings. I recall being amazed at how many people took the attacks personally, and by that I mean really personally, people in places like the Midwest who were convinced Muhammed Atta went to his death screaming, “You’re next, Bob Smith of Kansas City, you and your twins Jason and Jordan, and also your filthy dog Bingo!” If nothing else, 9/11 made me glad I lived in a Hoosier backwater no one would bother bombing. Alan had a job interview with a non-profit the following spring that would have taken us to Traverse City, Michigan, and that would have been even more suitable, being too far north to be downwind of Chicago, surely next on al-Qaeda’s list.

(I often wonder how many police agencies in places like East Methane, Tenn., went to the county commissioners with a wish list in those immediately-after months, in case terrorism came to town. I mean, they have an armored police vehicle in Defiance, Ohio, these days. Why?)

Oh, but that didn’t stop people in Fort Wayne from feeling very, very threatened. I sat next to the police scanner, and listened to it the Friday after the attacks. Call after call after call to investigate a swarthy individual seen walking on a downtown street. I really couldn’t blame them, though — we all went a little crazy. To this day, I forgive anyone who wrote or said something insane between 9/11/2001 and 12/31/2001. Crazy times provoke crazy responses. Four crashed airliners followed by anthrax via mail? Maureen Dowd was reduced to jibbering. (That’s a straight line for anyone who wants it, btw.) So were a lot of other people. Ego te absolvo.

Needless to say, irony didn’t end.

My favorite post-9/11 cartoon.

My second-favorite.

What came after for you?

Posted at 10:06 am in Current events, Media |

71 responses to “What came after.”

  1. coozledad said on September 11, 2009 at 10:22 am

    A year or two after the attacks, my wife and I drove by the police station in Durham. They had what appeared to be one of those Japanese micro-tanks from WWII, only it was painted black, and had VW tires instead of treads. That’s when it occurred to me that everyone had simply given up on adulthood. I wonder how much that piece of shit set the taxpayers back? Or if it’s just part of the big giveaway that will never be paid for.

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  2. derwood said on September 11, 2009 at 10:25 am

    We had a flight scheduled out of Indy on the Friday after to Pensacola Florida to scatter my wife’s father’s ashes. Her brother was flying the same day out of Fort Wayne. His flight left and he made it to Florida…we sat in the Indy airport and stared at the 6 Northwest jets on the tarmack for close to 6 hours. Needless to say we didn’t get off the ground until the next morning. It was a strange flight. We connected through Memphis and on the flight from Memphis to Pensacola there was a gentleman who “looked” Muslim. There were 3 military personnel on board and they all moved their seats to sit next to and behind him. Made for a very quiet flight.


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  3. Mosef said on September 11, 2009 at 10:27 am


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  4. Hank Stuever said on September 11, 2009 at 10:46 am

    For me, it was the beginning of the end of not having my own computer and an Internet connection at home, and my last day without a 24-hour news cycle. It was the end of blissful, non-news mornings. On 9/11/01 I got up around 8:30, read the newspaper (all the news of 9/10 that was fit to print), listened to an album while I got ready, walked out of my apartment, saw what a pretty day it was (gorgeous September weather still unnerves me now) and decided to walk to work — about 45 minutes — with headphones on (a Walkman!) listening to a mix tape (!) and the closer I got to downtown D.C. (it’s about 9:45 now, everything has already happened) the more I wondered why the hell all these people were walking the opposite direction. More and more people. Thought tourist season was supposed to be over by now. Why so grim, slim?

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 11, 2009 at 10:52 am

    John Edwards, on the other hand, should have seen it coming as a psychic, but apparently told no one.

    I think i had paid little attention to cable news other than occasional CNN looks until 9-11, and now i’m trying to wean myself off of it.

    Here’s a little something more cheerful, at least for Dorothy and me — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhSuBFNBQZk

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  6. Joe Kobiela said on September 11, 2009 at 10:53 am

    I flew a charter on the Wednesday after 9/11 only Charter flights were allowed at the time. The radio’s were very quiet,we got to South Bend for the pick up and there were armed guards patroling the airport. I got back to fwa, and there were blackhawk helicopters refueling on the ramp. In Jan of that year We flew commercial to Orlando.Seeing the army walking thru the airport with loaded m-16’s was a sobering sight.
    I’ll be Spending the day in beutiful Oakland Troy Mich.
    I’ll be at the Panara bread just west of the Oakland Troy airport for lunch at 12-noon,my treat.
    Pilot Joe

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  7. Danny said on September 11, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Jeff, John Edwards is not a psychic, he’s a necromancer. He probably didn’t get the news from the spirit world until slightly after the first death.

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  8. ROgirl said on September 11, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Joe, If I show up how will I recognize you? I live about 2 miles from that Panera.

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  9. nancy said on September 11, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Sorry, can’t make it, Joe. Next time give me a little more notice and I’ll be sure to.

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  10. alex said on September 11, 2009 at 11:02 am

    My fave New Yorker cartoon from post-911 (in fact it might still be taped somewhere on the fridge):


    Just recently had to restrain myself from insulting a very stupid woman who was going apoplectic about an Ay-rab in a turban sitting across the street from my workplace holding a suspicious package. “Should we call the police?” she was asking people.

    It was, in fact, an African-American homeless guy in a stocking cap who carries all of his worldly possessions in a duffel bag and panhandles from the same spot just about every afternoon.

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  11. Sue said on September 11, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I remember police officers posted at the high school Holiday concert that year. The stories circulating that the owners of a local gas station were dancing in celebration in their parking lot on 9/11 were fortunately not believed.
    And for some reason, the best discussion I had with my daughter about this, the one that seemed to “comfort” us the most, was about how we as a country would survive this because we had Ray Charles and they didn’t.

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  12. Danny said on September 11, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Nancy, I’ll be in Indianapolis next week. It’s only like a 6 hour drive for you, right? I’ll be pissed if you diss me … but I’ll be pissed anyway since it’s the city that stole my beloved Baltimore Colts.

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  13. Danny said on September 11, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Umm, Sue, but they do have Cat Stevens and he ain’t exactly chopped liver.

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  14. Joe Kobiela said on September 11, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Ro girl,
    Tan pants blue shirt,hat sunglasses.
    N,- I didn’t know until 5:15 this morning.
    Pilot Joe

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  15. Danny said on September 11, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Pictures!!! We want pictures!!!

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  16. Connie said on September 11, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Hey Danny I will be in Indianapolis the 21st and 22nd. Any chance? It’s a 3 hour drive for me I am halfway between Nancy and Indy. Except she can do it all on freeway. We could fight face to face! 🙂

    (referring to a long ago argument in the comments that we have both long been over.)

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  17. nancy said on September 11, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Oh, god, I almost forgot the urban legends! Six firefighters found alive under the wreckage, safe and sound in an SUV. The picture taken atop the WTC observation deck. The pilot with the stirring speech to passengers when commercial flights resumed.

    My single favorite bit of absurdity, though, was a helpful list of tips for nervous flyers: Carry a small can of spam, or a zip-lock of hot dog pieces, ham chunks, whatever, as long as it’s pork. This, it was said, will repel a rampaging Muslim, JUST LIKE KRYPTONITE. I swear.

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  18. Danny said on September 11, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Nah, dang, Connie. I am coming back on the 17th. Sorry. I was really looking forward to showing you my library card!:-)

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  19. ROgirl said on September 11, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Cool. I’ll stop by.

    I flew out of Detroit Metro airport a few weeks after 9/11. My return flight was in the evening and the airport was eerily empty. You could have rolled bowling balls down the corridors. There were more guards patrolling with dogs than passengers.

    I don’t have a digital camera.

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  20. Connie said on September 11, 2009 at 11:26 am

    ROGirl, Many years ago I changed planes at Detroit Metro on a Labor Day afternoon and the place was completely and totally empty. Almost creepy. While we were there my 13 month old kid finally decided she knew how to walk and she rolled up and down those empty concourses.

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  21. Sue said on September 11, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Danny, true. If only they’d jump on the Peace Train.

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  22. Danny said on September 11, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Sue, they would but oh, baby, it’s a wild world.

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  23. Sue said on September 11, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Those are two songs I won’t mind rattling around in my head today. I always liked weird Mr. Stevens.

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  24. Danny said on September 11, 2009 at 11:44 am

    You are a Hard Headed Woman.

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  25. Jolene said on September 11, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Nancy, according to Snopes, that story re the airline pilot is true, but their evidence seems a little thin. They refer to an AP story, but there’s no link to any newspaper containing the story. The ostensible story appears on another site, but, again, w/o reference to anywhere that it was published. Does it seem to you that Snopes got it wrong?

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  26. Peter said on September 11, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Sure, I feel like I’m miles from nowhere.

    Nancy, your comments about pre 9/11 flights really hit home – I had a few projects at WTC, and we always had 10:00 am job meetings – I would get up at 5, shave/shower, call and take a cab and get to O’Hare between 5:45 and 5:50 for the 6:00 flight – I always made the flight (United gate B9, I think – right next to the scanners) and I was never the last one to board.

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  27. beb said on September 11, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    We should remember that when Cat Stevens convert to Islam he refused to sing any more. So in a sense they don’t have Cat Stevens either. Just the company that holds the copyrights to the songs he made before conversion.

    Morning has broken, like the first morning….. I think that’s my favorite CS song.

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 11, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Um, Yusuf Islam just released a new album, so no singing isn’t what he’s doing. (Huh?) “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” is good – the whole album’s good, actually – http://catstevens.com/

    Anyhow, as for the boring middle of the country, let’s remember Iyman Faris and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuradin_Abdi aka the Columbus OH mall bombing plan. Four guys at a Caribou Coffee in Upper Arlington, trying to decide if shooting up Tuttle Crossing is a better idea than truck bombing Easton, until Khalid Sheik Mohammed gives up Faris’ name.

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  29. Danny said on September 11, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Rick Wakeman wrote and played the piano part on Morning Has Broken. I heard him perform it live once on a Easter Sunday broadcast from a local So Cal church.

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  30. Jason T. said on September 11, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Sept. 10-14, 2001 was my last week as a full-time newspaper reporter in Greensburg, Pa.

    On Tuesday, Sept. 11, I was the “dayside cops” reporter, looking forward to a restful morning of listening to the scanner and taking obituaries.

    I wound up driving to Shanksville, Pa., at about 90 miles per hour, with a member of our “I-team” in the passenger seat, hanging onto the dashboard and yelling, “Slow down! Slow down!”

    I think we were the fourth or fifth reporters on the scene. I wound up in Johnstown, Pa., interviewing some poor air traffic controller who was afraid he was going to have Flight 93 land on, say, the corner of Main and Market.

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  31. Jason T. said on September 11, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    P.S.: Oh, and my mother saw me on CNN.

    There was one pay phone in all of Shanksville, and I was apparently videotaped dictating “color” back to the city desk so that we could put out an extra that afternoon.

    Apparently, CNN used me over narration about “reporters from around the world have converged on this tiny town,” etc.

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  32. 4dbirds said on September 11, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I had a son in the army, an Arabic linguist, as a mother the years after 9/11 were extremely stressfull for me.

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  33. Vince said on September 11, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I remember the silence.
    We’re all so accustomed to hearing planes fly overhead so regularly that when they’re gone, you notice.

    Every plane, every TV news helicopter, was grounded.
    My memory fails. I can’t remember how long the groundings lasted but I think it was for several days.

    The country’s skies have never been so quiet since before the days of aviation.

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  34. 4dbirds said on September 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    What happened to edits? I didn’t get a chance to correct stressful.

    Yes living just five minutes from Dulles airport, the absence of planes was very noticeable.

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  35. brian stouder said on September 11, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    We stopped in Shanksville a few summers ago; definitely a small hamlet, upon which events literally fell out of the sky.

    What came after for you?

    A genuine appreciation for how fragile things really are; not just buildings, but also assumptions and institutions. I was a Bush man, and indeed REMAINED (firmly) a Bush man right on up ’til Katrina – which shows that my ignorance wasn’t invincible, but it was indeed very sturdy!

    I just want to say – how sick must the impulse (let alone the deliberate effort) be, to actively cultivate a return to how we all felt in the immediate aftermath of those attacks?

    I heard that a few bus-loads of people left Fort Wayne this morning, enroute to Glen Beck’s hate-fest in DC this weekend.

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  36. Joe Kobiela said on September 11, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Just had a great face to face with RoGirl.
    Fun to put a face with a name.
    Pilot Joe

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  37. 4dbirds said on September 11, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I just read that Joe Wilson is a retired colonel and receives Tricare the heavily subsidized government healthcare. Please help me understand these people. Is it selfishness or cluelessness?

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  38. Jason T. said on September 11, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    4dbirds: I’m no pilot, but I’ve always loved airplanes, and watching them. I’m probably the only person I know who bought a house next to an airport on purpose, so that I could watch the planes take off and land.

    But for the first week after commercial jet traffic resumed in 2001, I flinched every time I heard an airliner.

    About a month after Sept. 11, 2001, I had an appointment on one of the upper floors of the U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh (64 stories) and on the elevator ride up, I kept wondering what it was like at the WTC.

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  39. Catherine said on September 11, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    We went shoe shopping. It was at attempt at distraction, or some form of denial.

    I had the day off. DH went to work, was turned away at the guard shack (NASA facility, they thought they were next… WEV). We couldn’t watch the TV news coverage, as the TV is centrally located and our girls were ages one and almost-four. We had to get out of the house. DH is very picky about shoes — it’s pointless to buy them without him — so we decided to go buy shoes for the children. The salesperson had a son in the Marines, so she was worried and distracted, but we got ’em. In retrospect, what a weird response. I think I was trying to hold it together for the children.

    Besides the airports and increased security seemingly everywhere, the thing I notice is how many times I try to explain Islam to people (I minored in Islamic art history in grad school). The short version: It’s really a *lot* like Christianity. There are places where it’s a national religion, and places where it’s not. Over the course of history, lots of evil has been done in its name. Lots of good, too. There are extremist nut jobs, and there are lots of mainstream people. It’s diverse, it’s got a long history, and talking about Islam like it’s a unitary thing with a checklist of beliefs and behaviors is just as absurd as doing that with Christianity.

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  40. Bill White said on September 11, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I remember the clear skies afterwards – no jet contrails since everything was grounded. I did see one jet’s flashing lights late one night just after 9/11. I was walking back in after taking the garbage out and spotted the lights heading northwest at high altitude very fast. Probably a military transport or somesuch.

    At 10 this morning I realized I hadn’t checked the news yet & got a little antsy til I did. And now when there’s a blue cloudless sky on a perfect September morning, 9/11 is the first thing it brings to mind – just a moment’s realization, then back to what I was doing.

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  41. Rana said on September 11, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I remember being very aware of the sound of planes overhead, and I remember the flags. Lots and lots of flags, everywhere — and a month later they were still flapping from car antennae and mailboxes, and looking incredibly tattered. I’m not a flag nut by any means, but it did offend me – if you’re going to be a rah-rah flag-waver, you should do it properly and take down the poor thing when it begins to show some wear.

    I also remember all the enormous outpouring of fellow-feeling and goodwill, both here and abroad – and my sadness and anger when all of that was met with admonitions to go shopping and worse. Such a missed opportunity.

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  42. ROgirl said on September 11, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    It was fun to meet someone from the electronic neighborhood. Sometimes the world is smaller than you think.

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  43. Duffy said on September 11, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    My hometown is in the Upper Peninsula where my elderly mother still lives. After the attacks she was convinced, with help from the local rumor mill, that terrorists were casing the Soo Locks and some suspects were caught trying to poison the town’s water supply.

    It took me an hour to convince her that small town Upper Peninsula was probably low on the high value target list.

    – duff

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  44. moe99 said on September 11, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I had just come back from a morning jog and was met by my kids (It was 3 hours later here) and we watched the first tower fall on tv before they went to school. Got to work and was sent home. On the bus there was a dark middle eastern looking fellow speaking in arabic loudly and excitedly into his phone. Made me wonder for an instant.

    Got home, took the dogs for a walk to the neighborhood park, and marveled at the complete silence in the sky.

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  45. Jenflex said on September 11, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I remember seeing the first image, before any other hits, and thinking this was no accident. I remember not being able to get through to CNN.com to get more news…or any other site, for that matter.

    I remember the only jet trail we saw that day…Air Force One, overhead with its escort of military jets. I remember gas prices leaping to $4 a gallon between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

    I remember not being able to call my college roommate in the DC Metro area, because all the circuits were jammed.

    I remember clutching my then-one-year-old when I finally got home from work, wondering what kind of a world she was going to grow up in. And the adrenaline, oh, Lord, the adrenaline. I didn’t sleep more than an hour at a time for the next week.

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  46. Sue said on September 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I forgot about the gas lines, Jenflex. It was like the 70s again.

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  47. Snarkworth said on September 11, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Bill, I’m with you on the weather and how perfect it was that day. I’m all the way over in PA, but lots of people commute to N.Y. The town next to mine lost 11 people, including one of the pilots.

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  48. Dorothy said on September 11, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I remember having a conversation with my son after he got home from school that day. He was 16 and we talked about the way this was going to change so many things in the world. And then he told me he’d be proud to serve his country if called upon. “It can’t always be ‘somebody else’s son’, Mum” he said to me. I was amazed at his maturity and the determination in his voice. He made good on the vow – he was not “called up” but he volunteered and now he’s a member of the National Guard.

    Hey Jeff thanks for the Polamalu link. I missed most of the game last night cuz I was at dress rehearsal for Steel Magnolias. Tonight is opening night.

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  49. whitebeard said on September 11, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    My wife and I were eating breakfast at a restaurant when she saw the first tower crumble (the TV set was behind me) and we rushed home so I could drive to my newspaper; the rest of the day and evening was a blur because our presses would not be running until late that night.
    But I remembered from a few months before when National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice scoffed at a suggestion that aviation security should be strengthened in light of threats of airliner hijacking.
    Her response, on May 16,2001, was that it “would have required grounding commercial air traffic,” whioh would be too much of an inconvenience to the air traveling public.
    And so it was that the thousands in the twin towers and the Pentagon were “gravely” inconvenienced.

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  50. mark said on September 11, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    My post 9-11 seemed to last a long time. I was watching Matt and Katie when reports of the first plane hit came in and stayed with them through the collapses. I knew several people who worked in the towers and in those first hours/days it appeared the casualties would be worse. Of the five I knew reasonably well, four got out (or weren’t there), one didn’t.

    And yes, Brian, I gave into that “sick” impulse to remember how I felt that day and in the days that followed. The phone calls, the frusration, the good news and the bad. Maybe next year I’ll join you at the SEIU dance and help plan “Day of Service” acivities. Not this year.

    My closest friend was spending a year at the National War College at Fort McNair, across the river from the Pentagon. I couldn’t reach him all day but spoke with his wife who was in their temporary accomodations in Seven Corners. She couldn’t reach him either and the streets there were filled with emergency vehicles headed every which way.

    When I spoke to him later, he told me the Fort (and students) went on “lockdown” alert almost as the Pentagon was hit. Within a few minutes, a call was made for all personnel (and students) with medical training and each was to bring a volunteer assistant. They were the first of the first responders at the Pentagon.

    The following May, when I attended my friend’s graduation ceremony, General Myers presented commendations to two of the students for their actions that day. There was a pretty haunting photograph of 100 to 150 men and women, wearing every different uniform of the military and, in some cases, physical training togs, running across the bridge to the burning Pentagon in the distance.

    I drove to DC that 9/11 weekend, which I discovered was faster than flying with the over the top security arrangements at FWA. From the balcony of my friends apartment the view was pretty strange. The sky was anything but empty. AWACs up high, fighters menacingly low at times.

    In October I flew to Bangkok. My routine at the time was to stay up all night before departure, drink several vodkas during the first few hours in the air and hope to sleep the rest of the way to Tokyo. Sleeping was hit and miss and mainly a miss that flight. At Narita, a surprisingly spartan airport unless you are Japanese, I found a bar stool at a little kiosk-sized bar in a smoke friendly lounge area, refueling on Nicotine and vodka.

    I quickly discovered that a nearby trio were heatedly discussing 9/11. More accurately one loud-mouth German was talking and the two companions were listening. After about twenty minutes of this, when the comments extended to the “f’ing Americans deserved it,” I suggested he stop talking. My suggestion was not well received.

    As he approached me with his friends in tow, it occurred to me that I’d acted rather stupidly. A bar fight at Narita airport with a drunk (probably two if you include me and use strict rules of intoxication) didn’t seem to present a lot of good potential outcomes. As the German landed his first “finger-poke” to my chest I was also bumped from behind. A sneak attack by an irate Frenchman, perhaps?

    No, the bump became a hand and arm, grabbing the German hand that was reaching for me. A pleasant, unaccented n voice said in English: “why don’t you all go back to your seats?” As I turned toward the voice I discovered I had been saved by the US Air force. Five serious-looking airmen literally “had my back.” They were flying commercial from Hawaii to Seoul, where they would retrieve a plane pulled out of service in Afghanistan and fly it to Hawaii for repairs.

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  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 11, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Dorothy – break a leg!

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  52. whitebeard said on September 11, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Mark, talk about the cavalry arriving in the nick of time, even if they wore air force uniforms.

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  53. Lex said on September 11, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I started the car after dropping my kids at day care and the deejays were talking about the first crash, apparently watching CNN in their studio. The second crash came somewhere in the middle of the dozen or so blocks between day care and the paper where I worked. I’m probably lucky I didn’t kill any pedestrians as I drove the rest of the way to the office.

    As I got out of my car, the metro editor got out of his nearby, cussing about how one of the local twelve-and-a-half-watt AM radio stations had been reading our copy on the air again, uncredited. He hadn’t heard about the crashes.

    I had just begun filling in as assignment editor for a colleague who had just had a baby. I ended up editing the first “extra” that the paper had published since RFK was shot. (Upon reflection, I suspect that probably was the last extra that paper will ever publish.) Then, as employees throughout the building headed out into the streets of downtown to give away the extras for free, we started working on the next day’s paper.

    Because so many of the major news sites — CNN.com, etc. — collapsed under the strain of traffic, a ton of people came to our site. We set huge new page-view records, and I remember being proud that our servers were holding up so nicely.

    At the time I had a half-dozen or so friends and relatives living or working in Manhattan, several of whom plausibly could have been at the WTC at the time. Eventually, they all showed up safe and sound.

    I slept poorly for weeks afterward, frequently remaining awake all night. And when I did sleep, I had disturbing dreams. I could never remember them, but invariably, when I awoke, I would find that I had been crying in my sleep.

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  54. Andrea said on September 11, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    The day after, I had an ob/gyn appt and my dr. commented about my blood pressure being high. “I guess everyone’s is today,” she said. I was there to talk about trying to get pregnant for the first time. Our daughter was born almost exactly a year later, on 9/17/02. I avoided as much of the anniversary remembrances as I could – it was too upsetting in a full hormonal state.

    My mom and I were at the mall the Sunday after the attacks. On the way there, there was a traffic jam in front of the local Moose lodge, collecting donations for the first responders. At the mall, the lines at both of the cell phones stores spilled out of the door.

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  55. Jolene said on September 11, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    mark: The “Day of Service and Remembrance” idea was put forward by family members of 9/11 victims. It wasn’t launched by liberals who wanted to do feel-good things rather than fight.

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  56. deb said on September 11, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    we lived on the flight path for mitchell international airport in milwaukee at the time. when normal flights resumed, i looked up at at each and every plane flying over my house with trepidation, wondering who the pilot was and whether this might be the next plane to drop out of the sky. not rational, i know, but it took me quite a while to get over it. still happens sometimes. it messes with your head a little once you start thinking of commercial airliners as terrorist weapons.

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  57. brian stouder said on September 11, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Mark – I apologize for my clumsy reference to “sick” impulses; it was not my intent to label our visceral memories of that day “sick”. My target was the organized “9/12” crowd.

    I DO think that Glen Beck is a sick puppy (or else an incredibly cynical bastard), and he has a larger agenda than remembrance.

    He – and charlatans like him – are campaigning for a return to raw emotion and a rejection of calm reason and constructive action. If his little hate-fest in DC makes sense NOW, in 2009, why didn’t it make sense last year, or the year before?

    Pretty plainly, he sees the President of the United States as a “clear and present danger” to the republic…he enunciates that view almost precisely in those terms.

    Maybe next year I’ll join you at the SEIU dance and help plan “Day of Ser­vice” aciv­i­ties. Not this year.

    Well, Ive heard of worse ideas than trying to harness the emotions springing from a shared trauma for a positive purpose.

    Meanwhile, Glen Beck’s “9/12” hate-a-palooza will try and work people into an emotional lather, to do…what?

    And – if Beck does one of these ‘next year’, or every year for the next 50 – I won’t ever ‘join you there’

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  58. Judith said on September 11, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    My cousin, Al, was in the Pentagon for a class when the plane hit. They were able to get out through a smoky hallway over the collision site that collapsed after they got out. Al, a member of the Air National Guard, later served in Iraq. His main assignment was to head the building of a chapel on the base. The chapel was for services for military personnel of all faiths.

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  59. Jean S said on September 11, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    –the flags, the bunting. more than I have ever seen, before or since.
    –the Air Force patrolling the I-5 corridor. As we live about 5 miles from the highway, we had more than a few jump-out-of-your-skin moments when they came screaming overhead.
    –all the conversations with friends and family about how our lives would or wouldn’t change. I wouldn’t hire any of us as psychics, is all I’m saying….

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  60. del said on September 11, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    The clear skies. No contrails.

    The look of sadness on the face of the first person in the office who “got it” when the first tower collapsed, and the fact that it wasn’t me.

    Being sent home from the 35th floor of the office building where I worked.

    Remembrances of being in the WTC with a friend who worked there (who was spared); and working in the home of WTC architect Minuro Yamaski’s widow in Oakland County years earlier, and its backyard of sprawling Rhododendrons from the home to the edge of a pond.

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  61. beb said on September 11, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Oh, not John Edwards, but Bob Edwards. I didn’t think John Edwards was going “Morning Edition.”

    me at #27… I’ve got to proofread before hitting the submit button.

    Jeff(tmmo) at #28. I had heard about Yusuf Islam releasing a new album but this followed years, (decades?) when he neither played instruments or sang because he thought that was contrary to Islam. It was only in the last few years that he’s soften his stance on this.

    Vince # 33. The silence is what struck me most, too. Except for the occasional scream of a fighter plane from Selfridge patrolling overhead. The silence really was striking.

    What I remeber most about this day was my wife calling me at work. I work alone so hadn’t a thing until her call. She was crying and said “they’re gone.” What’s gone I asked. The World Trade Center, she said. All I could think was ‘skyscrapers don’t disappear.’ When I came home that evening all they were showing, on endless loop, was the collapse of the towers. It still defies the imagination that two huge skyscrapers could be so easily reduced to rubble.

    Then today of all days the coast guard in DC conducts training exercises in plain view of people without bothering to notify anyone of what they were doing, putting the city in a panic. Like the earlier Air Force One fly-over over NYC I’m amazed that no one thought this might be a bad idea.

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  62. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 11, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Beb — i think he had an iman tell him “who told you instrumental music was najis?” and when he inquired further, found most Islamic teachers said that his music could benefit the faith . . . as long as he didn’t live like a rock star! So he went back to the studio.

    My inference is that Cat Stevens needed to die, or at least go on the shelf, for for the person called Yusuf Islam to live. If you don’t have the metabolism of a Keith Richards, that’s a pretty common choice this side of pulling a Belushi.

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  63. LA Mary said on September 11, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I was sitting in the car with my older son, waiting for his school bus, when we heard about the first plane hitting the tower. I called my ex and told him to turn on the TV because something bad was happening. I put my son on the bus, and was the first to get to my office. I managed to get CNN on my computer in time to see the first tower fall, then the second. I wanted to get my kids and go home and cry, but I stayed at work all day, feeling awful.

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  64. Ricardo said on September 11, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    On 9-11, I worked in the twin towers – in LA, the 43rd floor of the California Plaza. From all points east, there are no other tall buildings, just a clear view of the jets headed for LAX. At least the Library Tower was obscured (by us).

    After our evacuation, the commuter train was canceled. I had to find a way to go the 35 miles home. There was a bus that went to Disneyland, then I would have to walk about a mile to the train station at the baseball stadium to get my car.

    I had my portable radio to listen to reports on the bus. “What target do you think the terrorists would attack in Los Angeles?” one commentator asked another. “Oh, big targets like Disneyland”. This was just as the bus pulled up to the closed Magic Kingdom, first time closed since 11-22-63. Great, out of the frying pan…

    Three weeks later I flew to watch the famous Monday Night game featuring the rebuilt Lions. Another disaster, the Lions haven’t been invited back since. I did get to see the last Monday game at the Silverdome and the last Monday game the Lions played at Tiger Stadium in 1974. Flying was strange, they hadn’t really gotten all of the rules and procedures together yet. Also, they were trying to search everyone entering the Silverdome and no one was going to get in by game time. Ah, what times!

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  65. Deborah said on September 11, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I was in my car on my way to work in St. Louis where I lived then. I was listening to Bob Edwards but I remember it being a segment about education. I sat in the parking lot at work about to turn off the ignition when I decided to keep the car running a bit longer and listen to the segment about education since I used to be a teacher, many moons before. Then they began to talk about planes crashing into buildings. I turned off the car ran into the office and told everyone there we needed to turn on a radio. Later we left and went to the boss’s house to watch TV. It was unforgettable watching the towers collapse.

    On a completely different note: this evening I went to the gallery here in Chicago where Jim G of Sweet Juniper was exhibiting his Feral Houses photos. I met him and saw his lovely wife. The kids were at the hotel with their grandmother. What a nice guy! We discussed a topic we have in common – living in Mies buildings. I was blown away by how young he is. I expected him to be older because of his excellent storytelling skills and his amazing photography. I’m a believer in what Malcome Gladwell says about how it take 10,000 hours to become a master at something. I guess some people start early.

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  66. Deborah said on September 11, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Oh and I forgot to mention on my way walking to the gallery from work I saw that guy that Roger Ebert mentioned in his on-line journal that wears the flashy suits and hangs out on Chicago River bridges (this time it was the State St. bridge). He was dressed spectacularly today in a pale lime green suit with a super long jacket. I couldn’t remember his name or I would have stopped and said hi. I hadn’t seen him for a couple of months, last time I saw him at one of the green markets in the loop area, he was wearing a screaming orangy red suit.

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  67. Dexter said on September 11, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I stopped at Mom’s house to check on her after my third shift job and was visiting when the first reports came in, then I watched live as the second tower was struck. I saw that second tower fall and drove home and saw the replay of the first tower falling. I stayed up all day and evening and then went into work at 11 PM having had no sleep. I watched Peter Jennings all the way. He was great.
    By afternoon of the 11th, all the gas stations had had runs and were dry, and I drove to a rural station and waited thirty minutes and did get a tank of gas.
    Later, Tom Daschle had anthrax powder mailed to his office. That seemed odd…anthrax everywhere, and then it was over. An old lady got her mail and died from it. A docu on TV showed Saginaw, MI people plastic-and-duct taping their windows. Duct tape sales soared—I used to walk the dog past our power plant…a car slowed and appeared to be taping me , I thought I might make the news.
    Guys at work made homemade signs and wired them to the forklifts: “We’re Comin’ for you motherfuckers!!!” with eagles crudely drawn for good measure.
    People in Hondas and Subarus and Hyundais and VWs sported American flags on I-69 , most all with stickers about Americanism.
    “Dead or Alive”, and both Bush and Osama bin Laden are still alive…what WAS that bullshit about OBL having to lug a dialysis machine around from one cave to the next!!?? Talk about an urban legend…a rural cave legend was born.
    I’ll never forget that day, and I want Osama bin Laden dead. Dead or Alive didn’t work out so well.

    U2 Walk On

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  68. crazycatlady said on September 12, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I was at my daughter’s school decorating the Library display case with a Robot/ Science Fiction book display. I heard a bit of commotion from the school office and found out what was going on. I went home and saw as the second tower fell, and I called Brian at work. And as luck would have it, a friend of mine was in Mexico for an EPA meeting. He could not fly home to Ann Arbor!!! So he drove from Mexico City to the border, then rented a car to drive from Texas to home. It took him a week to get here. It was a a singular moment. The kind you will remember forever. Like when JFK was killed.

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  69. Dexter said on September 12, 2009 at 12:29 am

    A week later my car died. I needed a used car to drive to work. A man from my neighborhood had a Jetta for sale and I bought it. Here’s his and the car’s story:
    The man’s brother-in-law was dying in Baltimore of cancer. My neighbor flew down to say goodbye and was to fly back later on 9-11. He had to get back to his job—one of those hard-ass places which does not bend on attendance.
    All rentals were long gone. He bought a Baltimore Sun and scoured the car ads for a cheap car. He found a Jetta for $100 that needed work. He cabbed to the address, evaluated what it would take to get it running, had the owner drive him to the auto-parts place, borrowed the car owner’s tools, and got it running. He took off from Baltimore immediately and drove back here (Ohio) non-stop. Of course he didn’t need the car once he got here, so he sold it to me. He had done a great job fixing it up; I drove it for two years with just minor maintenance. Yep…the title we took to the license bureau was a Maryland title…I forget how that paper trail problem was made OK…and later on I found an old Baltimore Sun in the trunk…I guess the story was true, and I never asked him why he didn’t just take the Amtrak or a bus…anyway, he sold it to me for $400 and he told me he had put in $200 worth of parts…so he made a C Note for his troubles, if ya look at it like that….

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  70. Connie said on September 12, 2009 at 1:02 am

    I was rushing around in the final stages of getting ready for work when my husband shouted my name, and I headed out to the living room to see what he wanted. He had just seen the live shot of the plane hitting the second tower. I called my office, told them what was going on and that I would be in as soon as I could tear myself away from the TV. I stayed watching until the second collapse, and when I did get to work there were TVs everywhere. Employees had run home and brought in their own televisions in order to watch.

    My friend Jim is a rep for Baker and Taylor, a large book wholesaler. The reps were travelling that day to their annual sales conference, and Jim and several other reps had arranged for all to change planes at Midway, joining up for the last leg of the trip. They were shocked to hear the announcement that all flights were cancelled and the airport being evacuated right now. They hailed a cab and said take us to the nearest sports bar, and had no idea what was happening until they walked into the bar, where every large screen in the place showed the breaking news. They spent the day there glued to the news.

    Which reminds me that Baker and Taylor lost most of their top executive team in an O’Hare crash of a plane filled with book world people that happened at the end of ABA – now Book Expo – in 1978 or 1979.

    I can clearly visualize the CNN web page on 9/11. Simple, red headline, one picture, one link to the rest of the story. No other news. That was what you saw if you were one of the lucky people who made it in through the internet crush.

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  71. Bill said on September 12, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    After spending a few days in Paris we took a flight to Athens on 9/11.

    We arrived at our Athens hotel room at 4 p.m. local time, clicked on CNN and saw tape of the first plane hitting the tower, followed shortly by a live shot of the second plane. We tried to call our daughter in Chicago but had to settle for a fax to her workplace. She faxed us later that her office held a short prayer service and closed for the day. We would’ve liked to return to the states but that was not an option. We toured Athens, Thessaloniki, the Mt. Olympus area and the Greek Islands. The Greeks were so sympathetic. We received heartfelt condolences and even experienced store window displays with messages of sympathy, some even containing burning candles. Several of our tour group, identified as American pensioners, were interview by Athens TV and print reporters.

    We took a hotel shuttle to De Gaulle on 9/11. One of the passengers, a very nice lady from New York, was catching a plane to JFK. I often think of her and wonder how and when she finally made it to New York

    Interestingly, we flew several times within Greece and, later, to and around Turkey with, by today’s standards, relatively light security. On our return from Istanbul, our connecting flight from Paris to the states had been cancelled, so we had to stay an extra night in Paris. The security at De Gaulle was extremely tight. Our flight was livened by French entrants and their friends to the Chicago Marathon which was being held later in the week. Seems the French celebrate before the event.

    I remember being impressed by the number of U.S. flags we saw in our neighborhood when we returned.

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