September 11, 2011

Emotional Ground Zero

Justin Katz

Like Andrew, I remember all the particulars of that day. I was editing part time from home, and the Providence school system hadn't called in my wife, five months pregnant with our first child, as a substitute teacher, so we were both home. I had just begun my morning workout on the machine in my office when she called from the living room that the World Trade Center was on fire.

"That can't be an accident," I told her when I glimpsed the plane's outline through the smoke. I grew up almost literally in the shadow of the Twin Towers — they were visible from the New Jersey apartment in which I grew up — so I knew they'd be impossible not to see, especially with the hit center mass, like a bullet hole in a shooting victim's heart. But there was no real news, yet, so I returned to the office, just for a few minutes... when the voice of shock came through the doorway.

"Another plane just hit."


"A plane hit the other tower."

You saw it? Yes. What kind? An airliner. Just flew right into it? Yes.

And that's when the word crystallized in my mind: "terrorists." I started calling and emailing family and friends. For twenty-two minutes after the Pentagon strike, it was still possible to imagine a return to normal. Then the South Tower fell, and for twenty-nine more minutes it was possible to imagine how odd the North Tower would look, standing alone until its reflection had been rebuilt. Then a massive pillar of smoke drifted down the height of the tower and blew away, and there was nothing there. An unhealable hole.

For me, the Pentagon increased the scope of the attack, but it didn't really change anything. It was hard to imagine being hit any closer to home than the Trade Center, and unless the attacks made the transition to WMD, the war had already moved on, hitting my countrymen closer to their homes.

As the most visible spires of New York City, the Twin Towers had been a constant reminder, during my childhood, of just how close The Economy and The World were. I could see them from my porch. 9/11 made that symbol manifest.

My brother-in-law, Mark, captains a tug boat, and being on assignment in the area, helped in the effort to ferry evacuees across the Hudson River to New Jersey. Among those crowds were Chris and Doug, two of my closest friends, who worked not far from the WTC. Doug had been an usher at my wedding, and when I talked to him after the attack, he told me about the officials calling out to those whom the boats dropped off, trying to gather information from anybody who'd been within a certain radius of the attack. The word "quarantine" had been in the air.

Childhood friend Brian had certainly been within that radius. He had run from collapsing debris and relived the moment in nightmares for years thereafter.

If two other graduates from my high school, Todd Ouida and Scott Rohner, saw the South Tower fall, they were never fortunate enough to have nightmares about it. Both worked two floors above the hole that Flight 11 had made in the North. One of Scott's older brothers had been in my graduating class, and Todd and I shared a birthday, although he was a year younger.

At the very moment that alumni of my high school ran or watched a familiar symbol of advanced civilization return to dust, an alumnus of my childhood judo dojo, Jeremy Glick, was fighting for his own life and hundreds of others' as one of the heroes of Flight 93.

The World and world events are never far.

Frankly, the extensive coverage of 9/11's ten-year anniversary in which just about every media organization has engaged for a week or more has had an aftertaste of the gratuitous. Does the United States still feel the presence of that unhealable hole? Does "where were you" remain any more than a parlor game? Did the quick growing up of multiple generations of Americans take hold as a permanent maturation?

For many of us, the answer is undeniable, "yes." Whether we are enough for the purposes of history, only time will tell.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.


I'm posting this to publicly state that although I wholeheartedly oppose what most people here at Anchor Rising believe in regards to labor, unions and the fix for our nation's financial problems I have to commend the fact that there are 8 seperate posts here about remembering 9/11. How many at RIFuture? 0!

I have posted here before that I am in greater agreement with many here on a variety of other issues - illegal immigration, welfare abuse, overall pariotism and other social issues.

I salute those of you who actually took time today to remember those innocent victims and the heroes of that terrible day.

Posted by: Tom Kenney at September 11, 2011 8:07 PM

Yay, Tom Kenney! I'm only a once-in-a-while poster, but I really believe that there is much more that we have in common than what divides us. We may argue about issues, but that is what our nation is about: a diverse group of people who all have one special thing in common. We are all Americans. The good, the bad & the ugly, the huddled masses, the rich & poor. We all have something WONDERFUL in common!

Posted by: Bucket Chick at September 11, 2011 8:15 PM

I remember hearing, word of mouth, that a plane had crashed into the WTC. There was no access to radio, or TV, so I assumed a replay of the bomber crashing into the Empire State in WWII. I didn't assume it was with purpose. It wasn't until later in the day that I had access to media. By then, it was clear that it was intentional. I had friends there.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at September 11, 2011 8:51 PM

We spent most of that day wondering if my wife's brother had been in the WTC-he worked for the Port Authority as a manitenance supervisor.By sheer good luck he had gone to La Guardia that morning to work on a job out there.
he finally called the family later in the day.
He lost dozens of friends and co-workers.
He isn't the kind of person who reveals his feelings,but I think he was seriously affected by it.

Posted by: joe bernstein at September 11, 2011 9:04 PM


I watched a ton of speeches today and there was a lot of talk about God. Maybe they're maintaining radio silence in protest. I mean God forbid!

Posted by: Max Diesel at September 11, 2011 9:51 PM

What was so chilling about yesterday is how the weather was such a vivd reminder of that terrible day 10 years ago... a clear, cool and absolutely beautiful day. Same as 10 years ago.

I highly recommend everyone watch the documentary shown last night on CBS. Was made by a couple of French filmmakers who were following a probie at NY's Engine 7, Ladder 1 in the weeks leading up to and including Sept. 11.
In fact they were with this crew, who were checking out a possible gas leak on a Manhatten street when the 1st jet flew overhead (you could hear the jet screaming overhead) and crashed right into the tower. The noise caught their attention and they followed it with their camera and caught the whole event on film, including the reaction of the firefighters. The chief knew immediately it was a deliberate act. They stayed with this group as they went into the towers and filmed the collapse as it was happening. And now 10 years later they've gone back and talked to the players involved.
Just amazing and at the same time horrifying and heartbreaking to watch.

Posted by: Tim at September 12, 2011 10:11 AM

Oklahoma Republican state legislator and Tea-Party favorite Sally Kern is best known for saying that
"homosexuality is the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam"
lamenting that young people are “bombarded” with the message that “homosexuality is normal and natural.” “It’s something they have to deal with every day,” Kern said, “Fortunately we don't have to deal with a terrorist attack every day.”

Posted by: Sammy at September 12, 2011 4:47 PM

@Tom- what you just discovered is what we've known for 10 years- that Democrats are a September 10th party in a September 11th world.

Actually, in the case of RIF, it would appear that they never made it past September 9th!

Posted by: EMT at September 12, 2011 5:02 PM


Were you Googling 'homosexual terrorists' or 'terrorists are homosexuals' to find that little tidbit. Oklahoma? A state rep? Who gives a flying...

Posted by: Max Diesel at September 12, 2011 5:21 PM

Sammy = Democratic troll

Posted by: Dan at September 12, 2011 5:32 PM

Sammy, good post, right to the point. Great minds quail before your searing intellect. At the mention of your name women weep and strong men avert their eyes.

Sally Kern is unknown to me. But, if she means our society has produced the metrosexual, that seems unassailable.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at September 12, 2011 7:48 PM
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