With the ten year anniversary of 9/11 fast approaching, I find myself thinking back to the day the towers fell with astonishing frequency. At times, itís hard to believe just how much my life has changed over the course of the last decade (writing for The Evening Sun certainly wasnít on my mind at the time). Add to that the number of people Iíve interviewed over the past week for our hometown dailyís coverage of the event (Julian and I tackled the ďman on the streetĒ interviews for Fridayís edition), and I guess it should come as no surprise that my thoughts have been turning back to September 11 lately.
Itís unreal, sometimes, just how deep an event like 9/11 can ingrain itself upon oneís mind. As for me, I must admit, itís a strange feeling. Some days 9/11 seems as if it was a lifetime ago ... others itís as if it happened just last week.
For other people, the range of emotions runs the gamut. Some (and this seems wrong, somehow) simply donít want to talk about it. Itís as if theyíd rather forget it ever happened. Personally, I canít do that. Maybe itís the musician in me (or the reporter, even) that wonít allow any life-changing event Ė no matter how tragic Ė to slip away forgotten. And then, of course, there are those who seem entirely too fixated on that terrible day. Typically, theyíre the ones who consider all Muslims to be inherently evil (which is absolutely ridiculous, if you take the time to think about it rationally).
Then again, in the days following 9/11, I suppose I was one of them, as hard as that is to admit.
Like most (if not all) people, my memories of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 remain vivid today. I was 24 years old at the time, living in a small, one-bedroom apartment on Adelaide Street, right here in Norwich. At the time, I was still installing carpet with my father, playing guitar with friends Nick, Troy and Adam as Fools at Play and writing many of the songs that would eventually make-up my first (and only) solo album, 1420...proper street location (a not-so-subtle reference to J.R.R. Tolkienís ďLord of the Rings,Ē for those who know what to look for).
I remember sitting in the living room of that apartment, drinking coffee, reading a book (probably Tolkien) and waiting for a typical day of carpet installation ... power stretchers, staple guns, seam irons, stair tools and tackstrips included.
Hearing my phone ring shortly before 9 a.m. was certainly no warning, in and of itself. Knowing full well it would be either my father (on his way to pick me up for work) or Adam (we typically spoke mornings to discuss all things band related), I was completely unprepared for what followed.
Adam, a strange note of hysteria in his voice Iíd never heard before, immediately related the news that Ė just moments before Ė a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Having no cable at the time, I immediately flicked on the radio, just in time to hear, in a strange sort of terrible harmony, Adam and whatever newscaster was on the air at the time begin screaming ďNOĒ and for a pilot unseen to turn the plane.
And thatís when United Airlines Flight 175 struck the south tower.
I remember spending the rest of that day in a kind of haze. I also remember the waves of hatred which threatened to overwhelm me (along with most everyone else, I would imagine), when Al-Qaeda was blamed for the terrorist attack.
If you can believe it, I had serious thoughts about joining the United States military in the weeks following September 11. In fact, years would pass before I began thinking rationally in regards to the religion of Islam.
Now, ten years later, I still have trouble understanding 9/11. But I guess some events are so unforgettable, so utterly devastating and despicable, that they defy any of our feeble attempts at rationalization. Iím sure Pearl Harbor felt that way, just as Iím sure the Vietnam War, Hiroshima and World War II did as well.
Itís frustrating, to say the least, just how much death, destruction and heartbreak weíre capable of as human beings. And sometimes it seems weíre destined to fail as a species, considering our penchant for destroying life versus protecting it. Sure, we look after our family and our friends, our communities and our way life. Yet when you consider the tens-of-thousands who have died as a result of 9/11, I have to honestly wonder, is that what they (those who lost their lives that day) would have wanted?
Are we sure thatís what we wanted?
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