September 11, 2006

Today is my birthday

Don Roach

September 11th has always been a difficult day for me to ignore and for good reason prior to 2001. At 10:30 PM on this day in 1977, I came into the world. Twenty-four years later our country would face one of the most, if not the most, difficult days in her history. The morning of September 11, 2001 was incredibly special to me. I was recently married and had honeymooned in New York City only a month earlier. We had free passes to go atop the World Trade Center but opted to go see other sights. I can still recall sitting at our hotel window, the towers quite visible, laughing about the Towers' height and wondering if we could see Rhode Island from a point so high.

Little did I know, little did we all know, that the towers would come crashing down a short time later.

As it was, I was hopeful my work buddies would get me a cake for my birthday and that I would have the opportunity go bowling with other friends in the evening. How trivial were my thoughts that Tuesday morning?! When I arrived at work things were pretty ho-hum and then someone said a 'bomb' exploded in the World Trade Center. I thought, selfishly, "No, not on my birthday! Come on!" I, along with a dozen others, went to the tv where to our surprise - and it was only surprise then - we viewed a gaping hole in one of the World Trade Center towers. As our surprised turned to shock, we were unable to break away from the television screen. Again, reporters mentioned a bomb, fire, a small missile, and a host of other reasons why and how the burning orifice came to rest within one of the towers, but for most of my co-workers and perhaps the country we thought it was a 'freak accident."

And then the other plane hit. As much as I went through extreme pettiness after the first plane hit, the opposite was true of the second. In the interim between the Flight 11’s assault on the north tower and Flight 175’s upon the south tower, my coworkers went back to work and I was left alone at the tv completely stunned and worried that the north tower might collapse. I went through many calculations in my head and believed that whatever caused the hole in the north tower had done so at a perfect point for it to cause the tower to collapse. But, I couldn’t believe it would really happen…Rather, didn’t want to believe it. Then, seemingly out of no where, I saw the image of a plane ram into the south tower. "Oh my…God" was all I could produce. And then I couldn't stop saying it.

Oh my God.

Oh my God.

Tears and rage welled within me. This was no longer an accident but a planned coordinated attack upon me and my countrymen. I was angry and yet, felt utterly helpless. I rushed to get the others, and those who had previously gone back to their desks quickly scurried to the television greeted with two sizable holes burning within two of our nation's largest buildings. We looked at each other and couldn't find any words to say. We tried. I wanted to say something, do something, but I was frozen. What could I do or say? What could any of us?

The station replayed the second hit again and again and again. One would think it gratuitous if you didn't listen to the anchorman who was more stunned than we were. He could not believe what he was seeing and as America woke up that morning, so too did our consciousness of an enemy whom we had previously feared little. Now, we stand five years later, five years older, and the shock of that day has long since subsided.

However, my soul still tears up at the thought of those dying in those two buildings that morning. And I still burn with rage against those responsible - and I don't mean the government contrary to what Michael Moore would have us believe. Five years later and we're still rebuilding, still trying to sort everything out. I doubt any of us shall ever forget where we were that day, but I hope we never forget our freedom is worth fighting and dying for. One young rookie firefighter on 9/11 summed it up for me saying he could finally see himself fighting for his country and potentially killing an enemy. Before 9/11 he couldn’t. And on my birthday five years ago, I shared his sentiment.

We will never forget.

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Thanks for your heartfelt post. We must never forget how we felt when we saw those towers collapse, lest we let our guard down and allow it to happen again.

Posted by: AuH2ORepublican at September 11, 2006 12:29 PM

That's sentimental tripe. Give me a break. The fact that Republicans are using this to their advantage is gross.

Posted by: Lloyd Weiner at September 11, 2006 1:50 PM

Lloyd Weiner is clearly made of sterner stuff than me. For some reason, the fifth anniversary of 911 has hit me much harder than all but the first. Perhaps it is a sense of history -- five years after Pearl Harbor, WW2 had been over for about 15 months, and the Cold War had not yet become a feature of life (the Berlin Blockade was in 1948). Perhaps it took the fifth anniversary to put the current conflict into its proper conflict -- a struggle that is destined to last many more years, and cost many more lives. To be sure, we can all survive this -- I've lived through the dirty war in Argentina and the IRA campaigns in the UK. And in both those cases, I saw the same split I do today in the USA: most fundamentally, between those who view "terrorism" as a crime, and "terrorists" as criminals, versus those who view terrorism as but one of many asymmetric tactics in a war. Paradoxically, the more successful we are in pursuing the latter, the more those who believe the former will be embolden in their assumptions and the criticisms that result. And yet, if this is the price we pay for winning the war, I can live with it much more easily than the alternative -- say a nuclear explosion in Tel Aviv or a biological attack in the US that proves the "terrorism is only a crime, and we must address its socioeconmic roots" crowd wrong. So it is a day that I, for one, feel both depression and resolve -- perhaps a grim determination is a better description. What Mr. Weiner feels today is beyond me.

Posted by: John at September 11, 2006 2:25 PM

Hey Weiner,

Where do you get off??

The GOP does not have to use it; any discussion on Foriegn Policy falls in their lap right now. These things come and go in cycles.

After Pearl Harbor, the GOP was pretty much useless for 12 years. We're only 5 by, and only 12 into the cycle after holding for 60, and we're almost realigned and back.

Mr. Roach gave you a look into his existance. Whether or not you agree with him on most issues, and I don't, it is not to be dismissed.

A little civility goes a long way towards opening debate.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at September 11, 2006 10:03 PM

Happy birthday, Don Roach.

Posted by: taxpayer at September 12, 2006 12:30 PM