Hope everyone had a good weekend.
I went to CNN.com this morning, as I always do, and noticed that to commemorate the five-year anniversary of 9/11, they were offering their network's coverage of the attacks in real time streaming video. You can find it here (it's under the "Watch Video" section). The video, which is divided into two parts, starts two minutes after the first plane hits the north tower and goes till about an hour after both towers have collapsed. Like most people who were either at work on the east coast, or asleep on the west coast, I didn't watch this event as it unfolded. I was in the "asleep on the west coast" group. By the time Peggy and I got up and started to catch up with the calamity, everything the terrorists had planned for that morning had either been finished or foiled. So I watched the CNN coverage of the attacks for the first time today and it's compelling viewing.
One of the most striking things about the footage is how unwilling the newscasters are to say that the plane strikes were intentional, even after the second plane hit the south tower. The plot that Kaleid Sheik Mohammed, Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Atta carried out that morning was so outside our comprehension we couldn't take it all in. Hijacking planes, we got. We understood it. Bad guys land the plane, plane sits on the tarmac, hijackers make demands, SWAT guys rush the plane and America waits to see how bad it went. But to hijack more than one plane, and then send them and their hapless passengers into skyscrapers? Where had we been? When had the bad guys stopped being just bad and become unfathomably ruthless? We couldn't really comprehend the enormity of such a malignant intelligence at work in our nation's cities. It might as well have been an alien attack. The on-air-anchor for New York's NBC affiliate was wondering aloud about a navigation system glitch so bad that it could send two planes into the same set of buildings.
Frightening as the world seemed after I woke up in Glendale, California, watching the video from that morning I can see how shit-your-drawers terrifying the world would have seemed to those awake and watching elsewhere shortly before ten in the morning EST. It was then that a viewer tuning in would have seen both towers burning while hearing the first reports of an explosion at the Pentagon. As the minutes ticked by that morning, it was impossible to know how or when the attack would end, something it's easy to forget looking back five years later. A litany of dire news items, delivered one right after the other: reported explosions at the Capitol building, emergency evacuations of the White House, the State Department, the United Nations building, the Sears Tower, reporters in Washington talking about a jet plane circling ominously overhead, an explosion in a field outside of Pittsburgh, the second tower collapses and the city's suddenly encased in dust. It was enough to inspire a nation into shutting down their higher brain functions, locking their doors and hiding out in their basements for a few months. Maybe it's a credit to us that we didn't succumb to that feeling. At least not for long.
Anyway. The dirge-like news that's been preceding this five-year mark will now finally end, and I'm glad for that. More tomorrow.