Yesterday, the great vision of America, shared by so many millions of people, was shattered in a way no one could ever have imagined. It is so strange today. Personally, working at a radio station, I was so
focused yesterday on covering the story, making sure we had all the
information on the air, on helping our listeners find out what they needed
to know, that I couldn't let the enormity of the situation hit me. Late
last night -- probably around 2am -- it finally started to sink in on a
personal level. And this morning, as I sit at my desk and assist my morning
jocks as they paw through the AP wire, it is all I can do to hold back
tears. Strike that. I just started crying.
I suppose I should feel lucky and safe that I am up here in Vermont. I
suppose there are a lot of places to attack before you target the most rural
state in the nation. Yet still, part of me feels like it needs to be home
in New York. I need to see this all myself. See it in person. Feel it.
Smell the smoke. Touch the rubble.
I watched them build those towers when I was a kid. Each week, another few
stories. One by one. Me, a little kid, asking, "how tall is it going to
be?" "How much longer 'til it's done?" Then, there they were, gleaming in
the skyline. Twin, stark symbols of business, of power, of capitalism, of
industry. Even if you didn't believe in what they represented politically,
you had to respect their might. The tallest buildings in the world at the
time. Something to reckon with. "Don't mess with me" they seemed to say.
Now they are gone. And so are, we believe at this time, probably thousands
of innocent people. People just heading to work. Kiss the kids goodbye,
send them off to school with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, promise
them you'll be home in time to see their little league game. Then you're
gone. Buried under twenty stories of rubble. Twenty stories. That's what
they're saying. 110 stories of building make twenty stories of rubble.
Math, science, numbers -- lots of them yesterday and today -- an attempt to
step back from the personal tragedy for a brief moment.
My cousin Mike is spending two years in Israel. I thought of him a lot
yesterday. Over the past year and a half, every time I see those brutal
pictures from the Middle East on the evening news, I think of Mike. I don't
worry excessively, or think he should be here in the US, as I know that he
has made an important and life-changing decision to spend these years
somewhere very different. But still, I do think, "wow, Mike is somewhere
dangerous. Somewhere where, if the odds are just not on his side some day,
he could be killed in a random act of violence". But today, his decision
seems so sensible. Random acts of violence (or, perhaps more accurately,
carefully planned acts of violence) can strike anywhere, any time. Even
upon our own "holy land" here in the United States.
The world is a much smaller place today. We all feel less safe. We all
feel a bit more like a small piece in some huge game, except that no one has
given us the rulebook.