When he got out of bed that morning it was a sunny day. The sky was blue and it was warm. It was a lot like that same day 18 years ago. He recalled listening to the radio at the lab that he worked and the voice on the radio cut in to say a plane had just crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York. His first thought that day was “odd, it’s too nice out for there to be visual difficulties.” He was assuming New York’s weather was like Cleveland's, which it was though he didn’t know that for sure. He stepped out of his lab and mentioned this to 2 of his co-workers. They acknowledged but it didn’t set off any alarms. He weighed a few more filters and then went to the front desk to pour a 2nd cup of coffee. He noticed the receptionist had a TV set up and people were gathered around it. He poured his cup and walked over to see what had everyone’s attention and that was when the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower. This indeed was not an accident.
This changed everything. The future was permanently transformed. The country’s psyche was damaged that day. It would remain that way for a long time. 18 years later it was still damaged. People were now living in fear. People no longer trusted so easily. This group and that group would be demonized. The country, which claimed to be the greatest country in the world, became a little less great. It was a sad thing. If it had permanently galvanized the country, as it did in the days after those plane hit on that beautiful late summer day, the greatness may have increased. But what happened over the next 18 years was not galvanization, it was not a permanent coming together but rather a separation of ideas and wills and love. It is to the point where unity seems an unreachable goal. It is to the point where love is reserved only for some and not for others. The same can be said for kindness and patience. The language of the day has become strident, course, vicious, and venomous. Discourse has taken a back seat to shouting and yelling. Listening is seemingly something of the past. Too many can only preach to the converted and too many cannot listen except to what they already believe.
We went to war because of this. Then we went to war again because of this, so we were told. That turned out not to be the case but it did not stop the war. We still have men and women in those places where we went to war even today. I suspect on the 20th anniversary they will still be there. What has happened because of that day still effects us as a country, as a people. It has diminished us some. We will not be proclaimed “The Greatest Generation” as my father’s generation was. Indeed, we don’t deserve that. We can rebound but if we are doing it, it’s a long slow rebound. It isn’t happening quickly if it is happening at all. In the long run who won what that day. Did the terrorists? Did our country? Who suffered the most damage?
He no longer works at that lab. In fact he no longer works but he remembers that day at work. It was much like this day. Sunny, warm, blue skies.... just a gorgeous day.