I was at a small conference in Rindge, NH
when I got the news. It was about 9:10
in the morning and details were still pretty sketchy. My assistant had called me on my cell phone
while I was out for a walk enjoying the late summer New Hampshire stillness. She asked if I had heard the news that a
plane had hit the
I wandered back to the meeting that I was already late for
and folks were milling about, talking on cell phones and wondering what was
up. The atmosphere was unconcerned. Some of the folks got the meeting started,
but I wanted to see if I could find a TV. We were staying in an older summer resort, and the only large (19”) TV
around was in the lobby.
By the time I got to the lobby, Flight 175 had hit the
second World Trade tower and the mood was much more somber. A dozen or so of us watched the coverage as
Katie Couric and Matt Lauer anchored the coverage and bits of video came in
showing the chaos in Lower Manhattan. Tom Brokaw joined the broadcast. There wasn’t a whole lot of analysis going
on, but the emotion was clear.
When they started to get reports of explosions in DC, even
before knowing about the Pentagon, I decided it was just about time to start thinking
about driving home. It was unclear if
the airports were open, if the highways were Ok to travel, or if we should just
stay put where we were.
I don’t sit still well, but I was mesmerized by the coverage. Fires at the Pentagon, billowing smoke in
Manhattan, confusion on the air. When Katie Couric was unable to determine what was happening as the first WTC tower fell, and I knew that history in
I listened primarily to NPR affiliates, Robert Siegel,
Melissa Block and Noah Adams among others. I would switch up now and then for local traffic. I kept trying to talk to my wife and parents,
but cell phones were jammed and I was only able to get through a basic message
that I was OK and headed home. From what
I could tell, everyone else who I knew was ok too. I stopped for lunch at a bar somewhere in
I knew that meant I would not see the smoke, but I didn’t
really feel the need. I don’t want it to see like I am reading too much into
this, but as I had driven north for the conference a few days before I had
taken special note of the
Driving back, I didn’t feel like I needed to see what it was like. I also just wanted to be home and hold my son and feel safe.
In re-reading everything that happened that day, I am amazed
at all the things that went wrong. I am
amazed at how unready we were. It is
truly unreal how little we still know as a nation about all that went on behind
the scenes. If this was Bush’s finest
hour it’s only in the perspective of some of the truly horrible moments he has
had since then.
I’ve never written about the horrific events of 9/11/01. I didn’t think I had much to add. And I probably don’t, but I have this to say I and I hope others hear it:
Monuments and memorials are not the way to honor those who
died that day. The heroes and the
innocents of 9/11 and all of those who have died in the “War on Terror” since
then deserve more. Much more. They deserve our honest interpretation of and
staunch defense of the Constitution. They deserve a nation ready for any threat, mobilized to protect our
freedoms and defend our nation. They also
deserve to know that their government will work to protect every American,
while also safeguarding our freedoms.
And we need to remember. They deserve as much.
Six Years Ago