Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where were you?

Six years ago today around 9am, I was driving into downtown Atlanta, going to work at SafeHouse Outreach. A local rock station, 99x was doing their typical, un-funny schtick about this or that, then they described something they had just heard over the wire. For a few seconds, after reporting that a plane had hit the world trade center, they speculated that it was surely a hoax or mis-information, or at worst, a incompetent pilot. Realizing quickly that they were in over their heads, they piped in audio from CNN.

A 2nd plane had hit, and the situation now seemed too calculated for careless airmen...I pulled into the SafeHouse parking lot on Ellis street and dashed upstairs. The few of us there gathered around a small black and white television as the drama unfolded. Wide-eyed, we held our breath with the world as the towers billowed smoke. When the first tower fell, then the second, some cried, others prayed aloud and I think we were scared. Truthfully, time has faded the distinctive memory of my emotion.

We ran to the windows of the 2 story brick building, gazing between skyscrapers all around us to check the skies...
Our director called some contacts around the city to find out if Atlanta was in danger. Eventually, like most others that day, we were told to go home: whether for fear, shock or just to be with family or friends.

As I drove north on the same highway I had peacefully driven down only a few hours before, I realized that everything was different now. I glanced at one of the big DOT alert signs that usually signal traffic jams or delays...it just said "National Emergency...National Emergency." I wept...finally, the emotion of the morning swept over me and I blinked back tears all the way to my sister's house. I couldn't be alone.

That was the morning of 9/11...it was followed by countless audio and video clips, talking heads, newspaper articles, memorials, dinner-table discussions, prayers, masses...
9/11 has become for my generation another "Where were you when..." moment, joining the Challenger explosion, and maybe even the OJ verdict. What other 9-11 memories or other "where were you when?" events am I forgetting?