What can be said about the 10th anniversary of 9/11 that hasn’t already been said? I, like most Americans, saw it play out on TV that morning, felt the confusion that faded to disbelief then slowly turned to anger. I can’t say I was sad that day. That came later as what happened really sank in. I felt anger. I still feel the anger.
I was in Baltimore that day at a random hotel for a conference. I had no business attending, but when you’re working your first entry-level job out of college, a day out of the office is a day out of the office. I lived in Baltimore and worked in DC, so a day off from that train commute was like vacation. I leapt at the chance to not make it. (It was an eBooks conference and I had nothing to do with them, but my boss had just taken pity on me and let me go with two co-worker friends who did).
I first saw the burning towers on a 27-inch TV in the lobby just after 9:20 when the conference took a break upon the news rumbling through the room. Hearing planes had hit the buildings was such a bizarre concept that I couldn’t picture it. After the break, attendees started to filter back into the conference room to continue whatever it was they were talking about. I couldn’t go back. I told my co-workers I was leaving, I had to find out what was going on. I had to watch.
I got home and didn’t blink for the next hour. Didn’t breathe either. There were unconfirmed reports of everything – rumors of bombs at the State Department and the Washington Monument, then confirmation the Pentagon had been hit. I had been there the week before delivering books. I felt an uncontrollable urge to do something. What, I had no idea.
I wanted to get to D.C., but that wasn’t possible. Trains weren’t running. I didn’t own a car. And everyone was leaving the city. I had no idea what I would’ve done had I gotten there, but I needed to be there. I was stuck.
News coverage became heroin to me, I couldn’t get enough. I couldn’t stop watching. If I slept the next two days, I did it with my eyes open in front of the television. I don’t remember eating.
I was numb with anger.
Ten years later the anger is still there. Our lives, our nation have gone on, but the anger is always there, lurking in the background. Just as it should be. We shouldn’t “get over it” and move on.