9/11/2001 Ten Years Later…”There Are No Words”

 

I seem to recall it was a rather lovely late summer/early autumn day. Sun shining. Temperate. Clear skies. What the meteorologist on the local news would call a “Wow Day”.

 

At the time I worked four tens…Noon-11pm…as a supervisor at a telemarketing company. On that particular Tuesday I had to go in at 9am for our monthly Employee of the Month ceremony, a big dog & pony show where the suits from our corporate office in Akron came down to make boring & repetitive speeches and give out meaningless awards.

 

For some reason I never turned on my TV that morning. I just got up and got ready for the big meeting. I only lived a mile from the office so I left my apartment between 8:30 & 8:45. During my short commute I heard on the radio that an airplane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. At first there was some confusion and reports seemed to indicate that it may have been a small plane that an inexperienced recreational pilot had somehow steered way off course. I have never been to New York City and I thought maybe that kind of thing wasn’t a completely unheard of scenario. It was an interesting story but I had other things on my mind and just shook it off.

 

That didn’t last long. As I got to the parking lot at the office a couple of my co-workers were outside. They asked me if I’d heard the news. From there the sequence of events is a bit of a blur. There was a television on in our conference room where we watched it all unfold. We soon found out that it was a commercial airliner that had crashed into the tower. Then television cameras actually caught the second plane crashing into the other tower. I’m no expert, but it immediately became clear to me that this was no accident…it was very much intentional. Soon we heard that the bosses from Akron had not even left Ohio yet on their company jet. Then we heard that all air travel in the United States had been suspended…all flights grounded. That really grabbed my attention. A clearly concerned President Bush tersely addressed the nation. News emerged that a plane had also crashed into the Pentagon, and that another had been hijacked and was presumably headed for Washington DC to dive-bomb into the U.S. Capitol before mysteriously crashing into a field in Pennsylvania less than 3 hours from my home here in West Virginia. Terrorism, which all my life had been associated with faraway places like Libya and Iran, had come to America. Oh there had been a few small incidents previously (the World Trade Center itself had been bombed by a truck in its garage in 1993, killing 6 people), but nothing on this scale. What was unfolding before my eyes was unimaginable.

 

Eventually the EOM ceremony was cancelled, and at some point, to my utter shock & amazement, all operations shut down for the day. Still we stayed. We sat in the conference room watching the TV as the first tower fell, then the second tower. In the blink of an eye the well-known landscape of NY City was irrevocably changed. I came home and continued to watch the coverage on television. The world had stopped.

 

I was not directly affected by the events of September 11, 2001. I had no friends or family members killed, injured, or even present. I didn’t even tangentially know of anyone involved. I never had any fear that my town may come under attack. Little ol’ West Virginia isn’t that important. But the images of that day will stay with me forever. The second plane crashing into the tower. The buildings falling to the ground. The smoke billowing like some sort of sci-fi monster, covering lower Manhattan with soot and debris. The stunned look on people as they wandered through the greatest city in the nation. As one news anchor put it that day “Good Lord…there are no words.”

 

The ensuing years have seen the tragic events of 9/11 become a political football, marginalizing the loss of life and trivializing the decisions made in its aftermath. That is not my intention here. However, I must say that one thing that will always stick with me was the strong leadership exhibited by President George W. Bush and Mayor Rudy Giuliani. No matter what party one may be registered to or what views one may have about economics, social issues, and foreign policy I defy anyone to deny with a straight face that those two men showed incredible resolve, decisiveness, and composure in a time of madness, anger, confusion, and anguish.

 

For a brief period after 9/11 our nation stood united and embraced our heritage of faith, charity, and love. Even when those feelings gave way to anger as we began to grasp what exactly had occurred and understood who exactly had perpetrated this heinous act of cowardice we were united in that rage. And while that unity and prayerful attitude was all too short-lived it was uplifting & encouraging at a time when the masses needed uplifted and encouraged. If only it didn’t take a disaster to produce that outlook. If only it would last for more than a couple of weeks. If only.

 

One thing that has lasted in the decade since 9/11 is a newfound respect for law enforcement, firefighters, and the military. I think society had gotten complacent and began to take those folks for granted. But as we sat in our comfortable homes watching the ultimate, saddest, most heart wrenching reality show in history a healthy reverence emerged for those who put their lives on the line to protect & serve others every single day. They run into burning buildings when everyone else is running away, and nothing ever illustrated that fact more than the events of September 11, 2001.

 

For some odd reason I have been touched more than anything by the stories of those that miraculously survived that day. The people who missed their flights on the four planes that crashed. Those that called in sick or were running 10 minutes late to work and therefore weren’t in the towers when they were hit. Those stories, while haunting, illustrate, atleast to me, the presence of God and His grace. I don’t know why this person died but that person survived. I’m not that smart. But I believe that those kind of small miracles happen every single day whether we know it or not.

 

I wish I could come up with something poetic and profound to say about 9/11 on its 10th Anniversary. Every generation seems to have its historic watershed moment of heartbreak. Pearl Harbor. The assassination of JFK. The explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Hurricane Katrina. There are no logical explanations for why these things happen or why good people die under such horrific circumstances. We know that hatred exists. Hatred for freedom. Hatred for God. Hatred for humanity. It would be nice if we could obliterate the hate, but that is unrealistic. However, we also know that the vast majority of the population has a tremendous capacity for love, compassion, kindness, patience, and empathy. That does not mean that we are willing to be weak. It has been well demonstrated in the past decade that America will open up a can of whoopass on those that threaten our way of life.

 

Countless lessons were learned on that terrible day ten years ago, both on a grand scale and in the course of everyday small town life. I hope we never forget the event or what we learned from it. We owe it to the 3000 innocent people whose lives were taken to honor their memory, to appreciate every day of life given to us by God, and to defend the principles of freedom & liberty that are the bedrock of our nation. We owe it to the first responders who sacrificed their lives in an effort to save others and military personnel who have perished in the war on terror that was birthed on 9/11 to always appreciate the fantastic job that those individuals do and the danger they voluntarily put themselves in each & every day. However, we also know that life moves on. We cannot wallow in heartbreak or live in fear. I can’t even imagine the sadness and pain the families & friends of those murdered that day have endured…the spouses suddenly left alone and the countless children who lost a parent. But even those folks have had to get on with their lives. I am sure many have remarried. The children have grown up. Some of the rules may have changed, but we continue…we love, we laugh, we work, we live. We move forward. Hopefully we take time to call a friend or visit a neighbor, and never ever pass up an opportunity to tell someone “Thanks” or “I love you”. We should have always done those things, but sometimes we get too lazy, too busy, or too caught up in our own perceived self-importance. Regardless of politics we should understand that we live in the greatest nation on earth and enjoy advantages that are the envy of the world. Evildoers knocked us down on September 11, 2001, but we got back up. We will always get back up.

 

God Bless America, and may God continue to guide & direct the loved ones of the thousands lost on that terrible day a decade ago.

 

The Rocco Chronicles…..Chapter 2

I did a more than fair amount of research about dog breeds before I ever got Rocco. I am smart enough to know that there are important differences. I know one really should match their lifestyle to a particular breed. Fortunately for me the very kind of dog I wanted fit almost perfectly into my life. Pugs are great apartment dogs and relatively low maintenance. The only drawback is the copious volume of shedding, which I don’t like but I’ve learned to just deal.

Anyway, one thing about my lifestyle is that I am a homebody. I go to work, I come home. Occasionally I have to do necessary things like grocery shopping or other errands. Sometimes I may get crazy and visit to the bookstore at the mall, go out to eat with my Dad, or see a movie at the local Cineplex. That’s pretty much it. I used to be quite involved with the church of my boyhood, but I am currently taking a hiatus from organized religion so I don’t even leave the abode for that stuff anymore. Therefore I spend a lot of time hanging out with Rocco. And the interesting thing is that there are two Roccos.

Because I probably don’t take him out & about as much as I should Rocco gets v-e-r-y excited on the rare occasions when he is around other folks. He’s extremely friendly. We were outside my apartment building once and a stranger asked me if Rocco would bite and I said “No. He may lick you to death but he doesn’t bite.” Another time he honest to goodness was quite ready to hop into one of my neighbors’ vehicle with him. My Dad is my most frequent visitor and Rocco flips out for his Papaw. Bounces off the walls.

But then there is the other Rocco…the one that only I see. As much as Rocco gets excited when my father comes over, Dad probably isn’t even to his truck yet when he leaves before Rocco is laying on my lap asleep. He is a very gentle, very easy going dog…when he’s just hanging with me. I absolutely adore looking at the cute little face when he gets sleepy…seeing those big eyes get heavy as he tries valiantly to stay awake. And for some reason I find it hilarious that he yawns just like a human.

I can’t help but wonder as he lay on my lap snoring even louder than I do what he is dreaming about. I am not sure he has ever seen a cat, so I don’t think he’s chasing kitties in his dreams. I’d lean toward something food related. I also wonder what he’s thinking when he’s sitting there listening to me talk. Yes, I talk to my dog. Maybe I need a girlfriend worse than I thought, but that’s beside the point. Rocco has a great poker face. I can’t tell if he is actually enjoying listening to me drone on about my day or if he is thinking about his breeder and his Momma and wondering how in the hell he ended up with this freaky dude that won’t shut up. I’d like to think that he is the happiest, most content puppy on the planet, but sometimes he does look at me sort of quizzically, as if he’s waiting on the SWAT Team to free him from his captor.

Basically what it boils down to is this: Rocco sleeps, eats & drinks, goes potty, licks anything & everything, and lays on my lap “listening” and saving me a fortune in therapy bills. No job. No societal expectations. No moral dilemmas. No decisions. No financial burdens. No putting up with people’s BS (except mine). It’s a dog’s life, and it seems like a pretty sweet deal.

Random Thoughts 8

More and more I see people who are either atheists or are embracing wacked out nonsense like kabbalah and scientology. This is coupled with an alarmingly casual acceptance of things like abortion and same sex marriage. Not that long ago this idiocy seemed to be mostly confined to Hollywood and New York City, the domain of the wealthy and/or eccentric. But it’s slowly seeping into “real” America. I know it’s prophesied in The Bible, but it’s still disturbing to actually see happen.

 

I finally caught the Speed Racer movie on HBO. It was okay. I had no qualms about the story or the cast. But much like 1997’s Batman & Robin (with Clooney as The Caped Crusader) Speed Racer is visually obnoxious.

 

Let’s be honest. We all know that Miss California USA Carrie Prejean lost her crown not because of any contractual wrongdoing but obviously due to her stance against same sex marriage.

 

“Hyena attack on girl spurs manicurist to build school” – well there’s a headline you don’t see every day.

 

I’m kind of tired of hearing about The OctoMom. Who cares??

 

There are two issues that are interesting in relation to David Letterman’s jokes about Sarah Palin’s “slutty flight attendant look” and her daughter getting “knocked up” by Alex Rodriguez during a Yankee game. First, it confirms something I’ve felt about Letterman for awhile now. Always known for his acerbic wit, Letterman, much like late comedian George Carlin during the last few years of his life, now too often crosses into bitter and mean-spirited territory. There’s a reason why Jay Leno got the best of Letterman in the ratings for so long, and it’s got nothing to do with the infamous Hugh Grant appearance on The Tonight Show. After all, that was 14 years ago. Leno’s dominance had much more to do with his easygoing, breezy, and fun loving style of comedy in comparison to Letterman’s increasing leftist vitriol. People have grown weary of Letterman’s act. Secondly, I didn’t mind the jokes so much as the fact that it’s not a suspicion…it’s not an assumption…it’s an absolute 100% rock solid certainty that if a conservative (Rush, Hannity, Glenn Beck, etc.) would have aimed similar humor at a liberal kid…..Chelsea Clinton, the Obama girls, the Gore babes…..they’d be publicly lynched and likely lose their jobs. The double standard is so obvious Helen Keller could sense it.

 

Ok…I’ll admit it…..I like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies.

 

Congratulations to the 20o9 Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. I doubt if my appreciation of hockey will ever be on the same level as my love of football, baseball, basketball, or even Nascar. But I feel like I finally did become somewhat of a fan this season.

45 Things To Do Before The Age Of 45

Night Panorama of the Las Vegas Strip, featuri...

A friend on the verge of 40 recently sent me a list of things he wants to accomplish before he turns 45. It inspired me. So I have made my own list. The list isn’t as adventurous as his, but I believe it is challenging without being unrealistic. And I guess I’m giving myself a little more time to accomplish everything since I have 10 years to his 5.

 

Things to Do Before I’m 45

 

1. Get married

2. Buy a house

3. Spread my seed

4. Become more well versed in The Bible

5. Complete & submit for sale my movie screenplay

6. Lose about 50-75 lbs.

7. Continue my education (masters degree? law school? film school?)

8. Get a dog

9. Rebuild my nest egg

10. Go to Vegas

11. Fly in an airplane

12. Attend the Super Bowl

13. Read the entire Shakespeare canon

14. Take a ride in a hot air balloon

15. See the ocean

16. Learn about astronomy

17. Write a novel

18. Take a cruise

19. Get a job that I enjoy and can stay at for the biggest part of the next 30 years

20. Study photography

21. Visit NY City

22. Learn about and begin the practice of fasting

23. Eliminate credit card debt

24. Atleast pass thru all 50 states (9 down, 41 to go)

25. Buy a suit specially tailored for me

26. Go to the real 221B Baker St. in London

27. Ride a train

28. Eat caviar

29. Be in Boston down by the Charles River watching the Boston Pops on July 4th

30. Try out for Jeopardy!

31. Spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square

32. Attend the Indianapolis 500

33. Become a decent chess player

34. Visit Italy

35. Become a sufficient, competent, maybe even semi-talented culinary craftsman

36. Volunteer at a literacy organization

37. Attend The Kentucky Derby

38. Learn about home brewing beer

39. Go to Mardi Gras

40. Attend an NCAA basketball Final Four

41. Learn sign language

42. Go to The Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, PA

43. Attend a major college bowl game (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton)

44. Work for a political campaign

45. See the Grand Canyon

*This list was originally written about a year and a half ago. Since that time I have accomplished two of these items. I bought a dog and I am a literacy volunteer. In a couple months I am tentatively planning on going to Vegas, and that trip has the potential to knock off up to 4 additional things. Some of the tasks listed are an ongoing process that I’m doing my best with.