The Oaks Ignore Their Pleas

Five Years Later

Posted in 9/11 by Jeff Graves on September 12, 2006

It seems hard to believe that it’s 5 years later.  My daughter, who was 20 months old at the time, just started First Grade last week.  Her sister, who wasn’t even born on that horrible day, started her second year of preschool last Friday.  We have a photograph, which hung on our refrigerator for a long, long time, of my 20 month-old daughter, in a small blue bathing suit and a wide brimmed straw hat, holding hands with her 21 month old male cousin, running down a sandy Cape Cod beach.  We believe the photo was taken on September 10th, a picture of incredible childlike innocence that stands in stark contrast to the horror that was to unfold the next day.  My wife had taken my daughter down to the Cape to spend the week with her parents, who were looking for a retirement home.  The morning of September 11th, my wife recalled, the still, cloudless morning was shattered by the sounds of fighter jets screaming across the sky leaving Otis Air Force base.  My father-in-law immediately thought something was wrong, for the jets never made that kind of noise, or took off and disappeared so quickly.  A short time later, the morning news programs began showing the familiar, horrific pictures of the first World Trade Center tower afire. 

I was at work, in a meeting, sitting in a conference room overlooking the Neponset River, when someone burst into the room to announce that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  I immediately thought of the story my father told me of a military plane that hit the Empire State Building in the late 40’s.  I thought it must have been a tragic accident, although a look outside at the clear cloudless sky did cause me to wonder momentarily how a pilot could strike such a large target on such a beautiful day.  A short time later, the meeting was interrupted again, by someone reporting that a second plane had hit the towers.  I was openly incredulous – there HAD to have been some mistake.  But, of course, there was no mistake, and the meeting adjourned, and people scrambled to find radios and portable tv’s and internet connections to follow the story.

My daughter had no idea of what happened that day.  Nor did she understand why, when she and her mother returned home the next day after aborting their vacation, I knelt down to hug her, and burst into tears.  A horrific event turned personal, and much worse that night, when my father called to tell me that my cousin had been aboard Flight 11, and had certainly perished. 

The following days were a blur, of memorial services, candlelight vigils, tears, non-stop news coverage, and the sound of fighter jets roaring in circles overhead all night.  I found myself awakening every morning at 4am for months afterward, feeling that pit of horror and sadness in my stomach. 

Five years later…after 2 wars that show no sign of subsiding, countless terror alerts, whispers of future atrocities, bombs on trains in Spain and London, we still push on.  There have been good things that have happened; 2 more wonderful children, marriages in the family, shared moments of a family growing up together.  And there have been signs of hope, and of despair on the front lines of the war on terror.  But rather than wax political, or try to capture some deep philosophical vein, I think I’ll just let the others do the talking…

Fred Wilson’s A VC weblog

Renee Blodgett’s down the avenue

How Stuff Works – The World Trade Center

Dave Winer’s 9/11/01 Post

Wonkette on “Things We Lost”

Jeff Jarvis “Five Years On”

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