Red, White, and Very Blue : LUSENET : Silver Linings : One Thread

Input? Insight?

-- Jeannette Silver (, September 12, 2001


Insight? Probably not...I don't know if I'll say anything here that hasn't been said by others, but Jeannette provides us with a forum to express ourselves here and I feel like writing what I'm thinking, so thanks, Jeannette for giving me a place to do it.

Last night I finished my seventh and final night of midnight shift for this month. I work from 6:30pm-6:30am and pretty much sleep the whole time I'm not working. Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 2001, I was finishing up homework that was due that night and wasn't listening to the radio or watching TV or anything. At about 10am I went to bed so I could get some sleep before I went to class and then work that night. I had no idea what was happening in the world then.

My clock radio alarm came on at 4pm. In my groggy state of waking up, I heard about airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in PA. I thought I was dreaming. Then I thought there was a "War of the Worlds" type radio program on. I literally thought "that's strange: I wouldn't expect mix 107.3 to broadcast something like this." Eventually as I came to I started thinking this might be real. I was fairly convinced that it was happening but my first instinct was to call my parents and find out. I picked up the phone and there was a voice message waiting (I keep the ringer of my phone off when I sleep during the day). It was my mother saying that she knew I was sleeping and that I was fine but she wanted to tell me what had happened and please call when I wake up. So I called and when my dad answered the phone, I asked "what the hell." I would ask that question for the rest of the day and I will probably ask it every time for the rest of my life when I think back to these days.

As I was talking to my dad, I turned on the TV. The first image I saw was the video of the second plane plowing into the tower. It made me sick to my stomach and I cried thinking of what the horrendous experience must have been like for the people on that plane and the others which were taken over and eventually crashed. Seeing the flight paths later in the day I realized even more how horrifying it must have been to make a u-turn in the air knowing that terrorists were in control of the plane. My heart goes out to the people who perished in this way and to their families. I cannot even begin to imagine what it will be like for the relatives to play out the scenerio in their heads, how beyond awful that would be. Nor can I imagine what it would be like to be trapped in a building that I knew I would never get out of. People were calling relatives to say goodbye, jumping from tens of stories above the ground to save themselves from burning. These are the things I cannot stop thinking about.

It looked like a movie at first and in fact still does in the TV images at times. Action movies with buildings exploding and tens of thousands of people dying somehow don't seem appropriate any longer and I'm happy to see that Hollywood has, at least for now, halted production of several movies and TV episodes which are all to similar to the real life events of the past two days.

My reaction is still one of sadness, anger, and disbelief. Even as I criticize the media for asking victims' families "how do you feel" and for not paying much attention to the heros on the flight that crashed in PA for averting that aircraft from its intended target (that bravery cannot be matched and I hope those people are publically recognized in some great form for their life-saving efforts), I cannot help but watch the TV for much of the day and night.

I think the reason I'm glued to the set is that I'm searching for a scene that will make it feel real. I know it really happened. My eyes are seeing and my mind and heart are believing it but it still doesn't *feel* real. I have friends in New York who saw it first hand. Matt writes "I was watching with my own eyes as a plane flew into the south tower and the ensuing fireball and smoke was more chilling than anything I've ever seen. I also saw the north tower collapse..." Mike too had a clear view of the destruction: "BOOOOOOOOOOM. I didn't see the second plane, but I saw the explosion.It just erupted upward and engulfed the top half of the building, consuming everything. On the street behind me, a motorcycle crashes into a van as both drivers eyes were locked onto the towers, like in Independence Day." I don't want to say I wish I had been there, but in a way I think it would help me feel that this is real, though I've even heard rescuers who are in the thick of it say that it doesn't feel real. I'm contemplating taking a trip up to NYC very soon to see the aftermath in person. It's a very strange but compelling need to go up there that I'm feeling. It's not a hunger to witness destruction but a need to give myself a peace of mind in a way that I can't even explain. The trip may not even help, but I feel like I should go just in case it would.

I had another need for peace of mind that could only come from an unusual event of great magnitude. An ex-boyfriend of mine works at the Pentagon. My first thought when I heard the Pentagon was struck was "I wonder if Jim's okay." But I haven't talked to Jim in a year and a half. Last December we exchanged Christmas cards which we signed with our names and nothing more. He could have died in a car wreck since then and I'd never have known. I made the choice to keep him basically out of my life because I didn't think either one of us was benefitting the other by trying to be friends. But by 11pm I had to call him. I had to know. With an hour and a half break at work, I drove home to look for his number and give him a call. I had thrown his phone number away and it isn't listed in the book. I called the Pentagon but they didn't have a list of survivors to give out to callers yet. So I called information and they told me they couldn't give his number out but they could call him and give him the option of calling me back. Ten minutes later as I was about to leave home to go back to work, the phone rang. Jim was alive. The beginning of the conversation was about the most awkward I've ever had: "yeah, hi, I know I haven't talked to you in a year and a half, but I just wanted to see if you survived the attack on the Pentagon today." After that I wanted to end the conversation but I didn't know how. So we talked for a half hour. And now he wants to keep in touch. I don't really know how I feel about that but I do know I'm glad I called. I'm happy to know he's okay.

Earlier in the day I had checked on everyone else I cared about who I thought might have been involved. Nobody I'm close to was hurt. Yet I've been affected deeply by this incident, as I know everyone in our country and many throughout the world have been as well. Dad thinks this will be the beginning of a war. I hope it doesn't come to that but I do want justice against the terrorists who are behind the destruction. Punishment is an obvious, and wholly appropriate piece of the justive. Part of that justice in addition I believe will be not to give in to the terror. Heightened security? Yes. Suspension of our lives? No. I agree with the idea of cancelling a lot of fun events for a few days out of respect for the victims. It gives our country time to reflect, cope, and sort out our thoughts. As Jeannette pointed out, I am proud of the way our country has united together to show our resiliance, our patriotism, and our strength even in the midst of an unthinkable tragedy. I do not, however, believe that we should stand still for long. To do so in my eyes would be to give in to those who perpetrated the attacks. The attackers are already relishing the human suffering, the media attention, the collapse of each successive building. Why give them more to celebrate? We need to move on with our lives, not allowing these villains to crush our spirits. I'm not a big fan of President Bush, but I think he delivered a great, inspiring speech last night (kudos to his speech writers as well...) and I hope all Americans listened and will heed his advice.

I am worried that even if we destroy those behind these recent attacks that there will be others. Prohibiting knives on flights and other new airport security measures will help. As will identifying terrorists and keeping them off our planes and out of our country when possible, but that's a daunting task. Some will slip through. And if they really want to they can use shaving cream and paper clips as weapons. Jailed inmates have come up with creative ways to attack guards and kill fellow prisoners with much more limited resources than what a terrorist could gain access to and carry onto a plane. Even with this scary reality, I refuse to live my life in fear. We face danger every day, from driving our cars to attending crowded events which could be targeted by the worst of people. We cannot allow these dangers to paralyse us from doing the things we need to do nor those we simply enjoy doing. The events of the past two days have stricken me with a new reality but they will not stop me in my tracks. Next Thursday I will be on a plane bound for Oklahoma City, and Jeannette, I can't wait to see you!

-- Beccaly (, September 13, 2001.

Thanks, Becca, for finding words where I had none worth sharing.

-- Jeannette Silver (, September 17, 2001.

Greetings to all in land. Thanks Becca for your posting, I agree with you that it is almost a struggle to make it feel real, I have looked at the pictures on the CNN site over and over again. I keep thinking about the passengers and the cell phone calls the friends and family. I think about the brave people on the PA plane that saved so many other lives with their bravery.

An event like this makes me take stock of things, it makes me wonder if I am living the right way, if I am living for what is truly important. If I were on one of the planes or in one of the burning buildings, would I be happy with what I had accomplished?

I am glad that so many countries like Pakistan, Syria, and Iran have been supportive of us during this crisis. I hope that we can use this as an opportunity to strenghten out ties to these and other nations. I have always been very interested in the middle east and Arab culture. I studied Arabic in college and Eric and I were planning an overland trip from Cairo to Istambul. Now I want to go more than ever to gain on understand of the lives of the people of those areas.

We are all witnessing a new type of war dawing, I don't think that a land war in Afganistan is the solution. We need to think of a new type of response to a new type of war. I feel that we are like the British troops circa 1700 all lining up on one knee to fire their muskets against Native American fighting a guerilla war from the trees.

-- sara (, September 17, 2001.

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