Where were you on September 10, 2001? What were you worried about? What occupied your thoughts, worries, hopes, and dreams? What were you excited about? What were you interested in?
September 10, 2001 was a Monday.
Cindy and I were still laughing about the recent visit from the Three Amigas: Leah, Roseanne, and Valerie, and the adventures of Sedona, a certain screen door, a forgotten carrot cake, and breakfast for champions. We were also dealing with a 1995 Chevy Blazer that seemed to be on its last legs, surviving our first Arizona summer, thinking about what to remodel in the house, dealing with the concept of a Home Owners Association, thinking that my best shot at a World Series game maybe with the fledgling Arizona Diamondbacks, and looking forward to a visit from Scott, Lori, and the boys.
But what about America?
We knew nothing about a tiny town in Pennsylvania called Shanksville; Guantanamo Bay was the setting for A Few Good Men, and we still taped shows and listened to CD’s.
There was no underwear bomber or shoe bomber (though we did have a unabomber), we didn’t tag, poke, tweet, ‘like’, or friend people on a computer. Phones weren’t smart, they were phones.
What’s an app?
We didn’t realize how small 3 ounces were and we knew nothing of a twister-like color coded national security system that left you wondering if you were Dustin Hoffman in “Marathon Man” wondering how the heck do I know “If it is safe”?
We had declared wars on drugs, poverty, and crime. We would add terror to that list, but wars against existential or nebulous threats or concepts make it difficult to answer “How do we know when we win”? I guess we need to be having a war against something when we can’t find someone.
Many in the country were still pissed about the 2000 election and we knew little about our new President other than he was another Bush and some of us baseball fans knew him as the owner of the Texas Rangers who traded Sammy Sosa to the Chicago Cubs. We were still struggling with the concept of the hanging chad and the hit to our 401k’s and portfolios after the dot.com bubble burst.
Greenspan, the world’s most powerful man, will get the economy back on track.
Where the hell is Kabul?
Boston sports fans like yours truly were not happy. Pats fans were pissed about the loss to the Bengals on week one and we were gearing up for the Jets. It was Drew Bledsoe’s team and Tom Brady was an untested backup on the bench; that too would change in two weeks after the NFL returned. Red Sox fans were gripping about 9-2 and 7-2 losses to the Yankees (thanks Nomo) over the weekend. C’mon Nomarrrrrrrrr.
The Tom Hanks produced adaption of Steven Ambrose’s Band of Brothers had just debuted on HBO. Paradoxically, it would be a profile about America’s greatest generation on the eve of the creation of America’s disposable generation.
We were neither immune to nor unaware of terror. Many rembered the WTC attack of 1993, though some had already forgotten the lessons from the portending attack, even fewer of us thought much about the US embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania and the USS Cole in Yemen. After all, those attacks happened way over in Africa and Middle East. We had the greatest and most powerful nation’s intelligence and armed forces to protect us.
We thought of people in Afghanistan and the Middle East in terms of “Why don’t they just blow each other up”. Shia, Sunni, Kurd, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Osama bin Laden….somebody else’s problem. What the heck is Sharia law?
I write this while flying on September 10, 2011 and realizing that I have been on a plane on seven of the subsequent ten 9/11 anniversaries. I travel a fair amount so that may not mean anything more than statistical probability, just an observation I guess. Or maybe it is my subconscious saying it happened; move on.
I didn’t write this to be nostalgic or create one of those remember when email chains, but to be more observational. Maybe I chose September 10th because everyone talks about where they were on 9/11, just like previous generations talk about the Kennedy Assassination, Pearl Harbor, and other major moments in history. The day before it all changed. Where were we physically, socially, emotionally, and psychologically? How do you imagine the unimaginable?
September 10, 2001 was a Monday.
On September 10, 2011 Red Sox fans still hate the Yankees and airline food still sucks. Not everything changes and that can be comforting.