“Transcript is behind the cut.”
Transcribed by: jwgh
Hi. I wanted to make a voice post about 9/11, and I'll transcribe it myself, so nobody has to worry about transcribing it. I could, I suppose, have just as easily made it a text post, but for some reason I thought that it would be easier to just sort of talk about it into the phone.
Uh, OK. So, what I remember about 9/11 is: I got up in the morning. I work from home, so I was sitting at my computer typing away. I was logged into a chat room called 'Nerdsholm' (which no longer exists) for the newsgroup talk.bizarre, and people were talking about something and I couldn't quite understand what they were talking about, but it was enough to let me know that I should turn on the teevee, which I did and that was after the first tower got hit, before the second one did, and so I watched that a few minutes, and then I sent a message to one of the people who works in Maryland (where the main office is that I am telecommuting to) and told him to go into the breakroom and watch the teevee. And I remember that at that time I thought that, I just figured that it was an accident, that a plane had accidentally flown into the tower.
When the second plane hit, at that point I just didn't know what to think, you know, it wasn't really clear to me what was going on. And I think there were rumors of various kinds flying around, that the Pentagon was hit, which of course turned out to be true, but also I think people were talking about how maybe a plane got shot down that was going for the White House or something and it wasn't really clear.
And, you know, there was some question in my mind, even after it seemed like it was a terrorist act as to who would be responsible. Certainly a lot of people immediately assumed that it was Middle East Muslims or Arabs, which of course turned out to be true, and I remember in the chat room I was in someone started throwing around the word 'ragheads', which -- another person told that person to shut up. And, so that was -- I mean, in the global sense of things, not a huge deal, but kind of distressing.
And so I sat in front of the teevee and watched as the second plane hit, and then as the first tower went down and then the second one. I remember when the first tower went down it wasn't immediately obvious what had happened, because there was so much smoke you couldn't really see it, but then the smoke sort of blew around and you could see that a big chunk of it was missing. And so at some point I kind of roused myself and decided that I needed to get out of the apartment, and so I communicated with my boss and I was like, "Is it all right if I just leave for the rest of the day?" and he said that was fine, so I did.
And the first thing I did was I went to a bookstore and I got "The Amazing Kavalier and Klay" book, which was, you know, it's kind of this book about these cartoonists who use their cartoons to kind of in their minds fight this war against Hitler. I mean, this is one of the things in their minds. At least the way I was reading it at the time, It was kind of the story of ordinary citizens feeling kind of helpless in the face of evil and just trying to fight back in any way they could, so it was really just, it was jsut what I was looking for at that time.
And I mean I didn't -- I tried to think of what I should do, and kind of -- I mean, this is sort of naive -- but kind of what the terrorists would not want me to do. And it seemed to me that what, you know, that this is sort of a blow against human decency and that the way to fight back would be just to try to help people and sort of pull together, and it was sort of through that kind of reasoning that I decided to go and try to give blood. And, you know, I figured that the blood wouldn't help the immediate crisis, first of all because people all over the country are giving blood, and secondly because, you know, I couldn't think that there would be any survivors, or many survivors -- I figured that either you would be pretty much unscathed or you would be dead. So it was more of an abstract thing. But I did go and I did try to give blood. I wasn't able to, I think because the line was too long, but I did sign up to give blood later, which seemed like a better idea anyway. And although I hadn't given blood in many years at that point, I did start giving blood then and I still am doing so -- I've given, I think, a couple of gallons since then.
So, yeah. One aspect of the thing was that, I mean, as soon as I heard about it I sort of thought about people that I knew around there and tried to figure out if they would be all right or not, and I thought, "Oh, well, you know, I think that the people, you know, that my friends and family are probably safe." I couldn't see any reason why any of them would have been at the World Trade Center. But then, reports came in, you know, it turns out that actually a friend of mine had gotten a new job and did work in the World Trade Center, although he had been late getting to work that morning, and so had not been able to go to work and so was fine.
One of my cousins was in high school at the time, and was at Stuyvesant, which is right there, right downtown. She was in I think science class at the time, with kind of a big picture window looking out right towards the towers, so she got to see that.
One of my uncles lives in Manhattan and had jury duty and was on the subway that goes under the World Trade Center and was on the subway when the plane hit, so what happened was, he's on the train, and suddenly the thing just loses power, all the lights go out, and I think that there may have been some smoke or something that went through there, I might not remember that right, and then they had to get out of the train, walk through the tunnel to the nearest subway stop, you know, having no idea at all what was going on, which was very traumatic.
Um, so as it turns out there were a lot of people I knew who could have been affected by it, although I am very fortunate -- I didn't lose any of my friends or anyone close to me, but, you know, just to hear about that stuff and to think how close it was -- clearly that's pretty tough.
So, let's see. Other things I remember from that kind of time period, obviously there was a period of time where there were no planes flying, and, you know, I live in South Providence, and planes from the Providence airport, which is not in Providence itself but is in Warwick, south a ways, and planes do go by from time to time, not low or loud enough to disturb me, but it's something that you notice, and I didn't notice that they stopped going over, but I remember -- I don't remember how long it was, maybe a few days, that when the first one did go over after that, it just kind of freaked me out, and my immediate reaction was to be startled and, you know, for an instant, kind of -- scared, maybe? I mean, I immediately knew it was fine, but my first reaction was to kind of jump and feel a little freaked out.
So those are my memories of the day and some of the following things. I had kind of a sense at the time, like there was 00 the phrase that was thrown around a lot around there was that 'everything has changed,' which, clearly that's not actually true, and I knew that at the time. But on the other hand I felt that there was something there, that here we had these evil people, if you want to portray things in those terms -- which I do, clearly -- who are just bent on destroying us, and regardless of how you feel about your fellow citizens, you know that they're a lot closer to you than those folks who are attacking us. Not that everyone agreed with that, but I felt like the people who didn't agree with it are pretty far on the fringes and that that was largely the overall impulse that a lot of people had, to sort of think that, "You know, maybe we're not all that different after all, and maybe we can work together and do something about this."
And that kind of lasted a little while. I feel like it lasted on the foreign policy front longer than on the domestic front. I think on the domestic front it became pretty clear pretty soon that the President was going to use this as an opportunity to push his own agenda through, as much of it as he could, which ended up being a lot. On the foreign policy side I think a lot of people either thought that the war in Afghanistan was a good idea or were willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, at least to say, "Well, I'm not so sure about this, but let's see how it goes. Maybe this is the right thing." And then it turned out that we beat the Taliban pretty quickly and that seemed like that was kind of going pretty well.
But that completely fell apart with the war in Iraq.
I actually went to New York for the protests, not that that ended up doing a lot of good, but I was down there. I remember thinking to myself at the time, "I feel like with the war in Afghanistan, I don't like the Taliban, it does seem like Al Quaeda is there, and I can give the President the benefit of the doubt, even though I don't like war or violence in general. And on Iraq, you know, maybe I'm wrong, maybe there is something there, but I feel strongly enough about this that I feel like I should get out there and let people know that I feel strongly enough about this to go out and be counted." And the president's response to those protests, as I recall, was that he didn't govern by focus groups, which, well, what can you say about that?
I think -- I guess that's about all I have to say about it. I've read a few other things which people have written, which is interesting to me, and hopefully I'll see some more. And I hope that everyone is doing all right out there. And I'll see you online, or in person. Bye.