The morning of September 11, 2001 was a pretty busy morning for me. I woke up super early and went to work to get a good start on a top priority project I was working on. I arrived at the office a couple of hours before sunrise. At that time, I was working in downtown Dallas at a mortgage company. As the Communications Manager, one of my jobs was to create corporate presentations, usually delivered by the CEO or other executive.
PowerPoint was my trusted tool of choice at that time, but since this particular presentation was so important, I decided to use a new way of creating and delivering presentations - Macromedia Flash!
So I was knee-deep in Flash - fiddling with keyframes and motion tweens - listening to Third Day blare through my headphones throughout the morning. I barely noticed the lights switching on and the slow trickle of coworkers filtering into the other cubicles around me.
I don't remember the exact time, but my friend Bob, who sat in the cubicle behind me tapped me on the shoulder to get my attention. I took off the headphones and he said, "A plane just hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center." I asked him what kind of plane and he said he didn't know. I put my headphones back on and got back to work. While I was working, I thought to myself, "What kind of idiot would fly a plane into a tower that large, thinking it was a small private plane of some sort." I also remember wondering how many people could have been injured and hoped everyone was ok.
About 10 or 15 minutes later, Bob tapped me on the shoulder again and said, "Another plane just hit the other tower."
At this point, I put the headphones down completely and called my wife, who was 8 months pregnant with our second child. She was at a doctor's visit and was watching it all on the TV in the waiting room. She was pretty distraught about it all and I remember hoping that this would not induce an early labor.
From that point forward, my day was pretty much like everyone else's. We spent most of the day watching CNN on the large screens in nearby conference rooms. I thought for sure we would all be sent home, especially since we were in one of the taller buildings in Dallas, in a very nearly-direct flight path to Love Field. No one was sure if there were more attacks planned.
Looking back, I wish now that I had come straight home, but at the time, I don't think I even comprehended the enormity of it all. I ended up leaving work early, listening to the radio the whole time. We went to a prayer service at church that night and prayed. I don't even know what I prayed for. What can you possibly pray for at a time like that?
That was 8 years ago today. This is the first year we have sent our kids to public school, where we have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader there. I sent an email to the 5th grade social studies teacher the other day asking what the school had planned in terms of remembering 911. Here was his response:
"We don't talk a lot about 9-11 or go into great depth because of people's different beliefs and feelings related to what happened. In the older grades they do go into more detail because the students are more able to form their own opinions and thoughts about the information presented. I hope that makes sense."
Make sense? No, that doesn't make sense! So people's different beliefs and feelings prevent us from talking about one of the worst catastrophes in our country's history? Are we also not going to talk about slavery or the Holocaust? I'm sure there are lots of different beliefs and feelings related to those aspects of our checkered past.
I think whatever you tell your kids, either at home or at school, should be age appropriate, for sure. I'm not advocating showing CNN footage of the day's events to the kids or showing any gory photos of people jumping out of skyscraper windows, but by all means, can't we find a way to remember the day? Don't let it go by without acknowledging what happened.
Too many people were killed. Too many heros gave up their lives to save others. Our country has changed too much to let this day go by without doing SOMETHING to remember that awful day.