I'm blogging this on the morning of May 2nd, prior to any [additional] news coverage and opinions about yesterday's event.
Brothers and Sisters. I was watching this show for the first time last night. Sunday night, the first of May. Interesting tangled web of relationships. I can relate. I was all comfy on the couch in the living room with the dog sleeping next to me. And they were just about to hit a critical relationship turning point with one of the charact... "ABC NEWS SPECIAL REPORT."
My stomach sank.
A bomb? An assassination? Just seeing those words, presented in what felt like Walter Cronkite throw-back slide-graphics, made my heart instantly sink and my mouth went dry.
Gut instinct. Oh, Jesus, what now. What are they about to tell us.
"Osama bin Laden has been killed."
Wow. Then a mix of feelings...
Everyone who was around to remember the event on that gorgeous, blue-sky September 11th morning, knows exactly where you were. What you were doing.
I had returned from an amazing year living in France to work as an Art Director and Creative Spark at Disney in Orlando. I didn't yet have a pet. It was just me. Not even one year yet, at my new job.
I was in the bathroom, getting ready for work. It was a beautiful day, the windows were open. The Today Show was on TV in the living room and a local Tampa radio station was on in the bathroom where I was.
"A plane has hit the World Trade Center."
When the guy first said on the radio it seemed a bit random and out of place. Small plane, likely. What was the need to tell us in Florida about a little Cessna? At first I wasn't really rattled at all.
We had never experienced ANY-thing like what were about to witness unfolding before our disbelieving, innocent, pre-airport security eyes.
But that morning the brevity of his words on the radio and the randomness of this interruption, twice, were enough for my curiosity to lead me to the living room to witness a paradigm shift in the way our world would be.
Katie Couric was on the Today Show, unscripted, on the phone with a woman semi-near the towers. Video was airing while they talked. And it looked scary.
But my simple thought was, "I hope they can get a fire and rescue team up there before the fire spreads." Was it a small plane? An accident? A terrorist act? No one knew. Not even Katie and Matt. It couldn't have been the weather, there wasn't a cloud in the sky.
No one knew, just yet, what was happening. Or why.
Then as we were watching, live, a second plane hit the other tower and new videos were coming in. Shit. This is bad.
It felt like the country was under attack.
Was this over? Would there me more? What's going on? We had NOTHING to compare this too.
Keep in mind, many of us still hadn't even bought our first cell phone, nevermind digital video, photos, or texts. I believe I was still developing film from my POS film-camera at the Walgreen's in Hunters Creek. YouTube did not begin until February 2005. Camera phones were early 2000's at best. iPhone June 2007. Facebook? Twitter? Status? Never heard of them.
Phone. Email. Those were our options for communications.
And before today, all the liquids you care to bring with you on a plane, tax-free, body scan-free. I remember the first time I witnessed my grandparents — my grandparents — getting frisked. Our world as we knew it was being transformed. Things were about to be different and they were not going back.
We watched the TV, glued to it, and I desperately waited for 'the rescue teams' to come and stop this terror. Save these people.
It couldn't happen. This event was too big. And it was already underway.
All you could do was sit there and watch. Awful. What are those poor people seeing? It's so bad inside that they're opting to jump out of windows? Jesus.
People were casually walking away from the buildings, halfway paralyzed by the same curiosity and disbelief we ALL shared on that dreadful morning.
Then it began.
The top of one of the buildings began to implode and fall. I thought it would go down to just the area that the plane hit. Which would have been bad enough.
But. The. Whole. Building. Collapsed.
It was gone. Gone. No longer there and part of the NY skyline.
Along with anyone in it. Or below it.
Oh, this is catastrophic.
Then all I could think then, was that anyone near that building needs to get away. NOW. And the cloud of 'dissolved building' erupted and came roaring, rolling through the NY streets like that scene from Indiana Jones.
Our country had been attacked? On our soil?
This isn't supposed to happen. We're America. Who hates us this much? The leadership of America prior to this time had been one that reached out. We hadn't yet acquired the infamous cocky, inexperienced leadership, and global bad-reputation. The economy was great, real estate was good, we played well with other [countries]. Even eachother for the most part.
I called every person in my family. Are you okay? I love you.
I called a dear friend of mine, who was a big part of my moving to work at Disney. He had just left the day before, to be in NY for filming a new TV spot for Disney with another Florida creative friend of mine. I remember the message I left him. "Ross, this is Wendy, get out of NY. Now. I don't know if you already have 4,000 msgs informing you of the events -- but in case this is the first, we've been attacked. Get. Out. Now." He did. He and Tom were fine.
Then the first unexpected transformation.
I decided to drive on in to work. I remember cowering in the seat of my brand new Jetta looking up to the sky as if I could see and drive away from an impending attack. I was scared. Then at four-way stops, no one would go. Too polite.
You know they say the calm before the storm? We were all SO nice to eachother, compassionate, respectful, gentle with eachother. It felt like a live scene from Disney's Chip & Dale.
But we've been experiencing the 'storm' of discontent, disrespect, ever since that overly polite, calm, caring, compassionate aftermath day of 9/12/11. As a country, we haven't been able to come together like that since then.
Our country (the one that normally rushes to help others) was immediately offered help by the world. An outpouring of support, protesting these horrific acts in an effort to ward off terrorism from spreading further.
But 43 turned it down, pulled up his britches, tipped his cowboy hat. And essentially said "we don't need you."
Launched a war, dissolved an economy, and made America look ridiculous overseas. Our respect had been tarnished. That's a hard thing to get back. I'd been traveling to France for a decade and after the 9/11 attack noticed a distinct shift in attitudes. Most folks were able to separate the idea that not all Americans supported 43.
Fast forward. Nearly a decade. Now our own political parties are so charged, leaders or wanna-be leaders, are SO shamefully disrespectful (Trump) that the country may implode again, at our own hands. But before that happens... last night...
...the source of the original chaos was stopped.
On Wikipedia, they post this when history is in the making: This article is about a person who has recently died. Some information, such as that pertaining to the circumstances of the person’s death and surrounding events, may change as more facts become known.After a long period of rest and peace, we'd been in the midst of a history-making decade that began at the hands of this evil person.
On May 1, 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama announced on national television that bin Laden had been killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan by American military forces and the Central Intelligence Agency and that his body was in U.S. custody
But as I watched last night, my feelings were calm, quiet, and mixed. I hate that it had to come to this... but as a kid would say, "he started it."
I am relieved he is out of the picture, and I know this, in itself is a huge accomplishment, but doesn't in and of itself end this out-of-control problem of terrorism. It may escalate it. And with the party-like celebrations that spontaneously erupted... my fear with this mentally and morally unsteady group is that they will retaliate.
Do we really want to fan that fire? I don't.
Also, a quick side-note. Looking back to my having watched the CSPAN Coorespondents' Dinner coverage Saturday night, and being in touch throughout it with my boyfriend who was attending it, something struck me... a gut sense or observation that Obama seemed bit preoccupied. Distracted.
Now, it all makes sense.
Looking back is easy. Looking ahead is not.
Be safe today.
©2011 Wendy Hudgins