I've never heard the F word on network television before. Tonight I think I heard it 20 times in a 2-hour span.
I just watched CBS's documentary of 9/11. Apparently two brothers set out to make a movie documentary of one probationary firefighter's journey from "boy" to "man" during his probationary period as a NY Firefighter. Their probationary periods are nine months; this guy began his in June of last year. The filmmakers obviously didn't plan to film what they did. There was footage from inside Tower 1 as Tower 2 fell. There was footage of one of the plane engines which landed four blocks (they said, I think that's a minimum estimation) away on the street.
I'm not sure what to say about it. Part of me feels like it just happened yesterday again. Only this time, I am able to feel the emotional response immediately. When it actually happened, like everyone else, I was too disbelieving to be able to feel anything. Actually, that's not true. The enormity and gravity of the situation was obvious to me, but it wasn't something I could fathom in the quick instances in which it happened. What I was able to feel immediately, however, was fear.
That morning I was watching TechTV, as I am often wont to do in the mornings. This was shortly after being laid off from WorldPages so I didn't have a job to go to. I was getting ready to drive Tandra to Ark City (about an hour drive) to pick up some schoolbooks she needed. For some reason, and this is incredibly uncommon, I got bored with TechTV and switched to NBC, I think it was. Maybe CBS. Whoever has Bryant Gumbel. They were showing a live shot of Tower 1 smoking and burning. Bryant was talking about how a plane had crashed into the building, and they weren't sure whether or not it was an accident. They also weren't sure what kind of plane it was or how big it had been. At this point I was thinking how awful it was, but I wasn't in shock or anything. I thought to myself, "finally a day with some real news." It was reminiscent of the OKC bombing, although at that moment I didn't feel it was quite as bad. Maybe at that moment, it wasn't. Yet.
The second plane crashed into Tower 2 as I was sitting there watching the live coverage. I heard the news anchors scream and get a bit hysterical. It was at that moment, and not before, that I was absolutely certain it was not an accident. I saw the back side of that building blow out into the sky in a huge fireball. I watched as the cameraman frantically adjusted to frame both crash sites. Only a few minutes later as Bryant Gumbel was talking, the feed was suddenly replaced with an image of a smoking Pentagon. It took Bryant a moment to stop talking about New York and realize what was being shown. Before he had a chance to do that, I immediately recognized the building as the Pentagon near D.C., and at that moment I began to feel real fear. At that moment I knew that this day was going to get much worse as it went on. At that moment I knew that our country was not going to be the same, and at that moment I began to wonder about our country's reaction. I suspected we could possibly go to war over this. And at that moment I feared for things much closer to me than the East Coast. I feared for the safety of our entire nation, and even of my small city. There was no knowledge of who was behind this. There was no idea whether or not there would be more to come. Would another plane crash into another national icon? Or would it be a bomb this time? Would it be left by a terrorist or dropped by a military aircraft from some other country? I knew there was nothing I could do but wait and watch.
Tandra called me to ask if I had seen what was going on. I think she thought I might still be asleep. She arrived at my place a little later, and before we left for Ark City she realized she'd left something at her house. I was sitting in my car, listening to the radio, outside her house as she ran in, when Miah called me. He called to see if I knew what was going on and to tell me that Tower 2 had fallen. I remember I couldn't comprehend what he'd said for a moment. I mean, I thought maybe the floors above the crash site would collapse, but I couldn't concieve of the entire building going to the ground. I remember what I said, "It fucking FELL??" I turned off the car and went into Tandra's house and turned on the TV. The billowing smoke and dust engulfing Manhattan was unreal. The "small" buildings, the ones that are bigger than the biggest building in Wichita, with only their tip tops sticking out of the cloud, or maybe totally engulfed. Tandra and I watched for a moment before we got back into the car. Before Tower 2 fell, I held a small hope inside me like a match being sheltered from the wind, that it might not. I felt afraid to even admit that hope to myself for fear of jinxing it, until it was jinxed for me.
We didn't say much on the trip, down or back. Coming back into Wichita from the south, I imagined what it might look like from where we were if a nuke exploded over Wichita. A blinding flash followed by a huge rising fireball and the mushroom cloud. Then the deafening roar. Would we be too close? Would it throw my car a quarter mile back like wind blowing ashes? Would we die of radiation poisoning? Then I spotted a jet airplane on approach to Mid-Continent airport. I wondered where those people were originally headed, and how long they would be stuck in our little city. I remember feeling relieved after that that there were no aircraft in the sky. Wichita is home to four or five major aircraft manufacturers, an Air Force base, and three airports. We have a lot of air traffic. I remember that through all the uncertainty and vulnerability I felt, it felt a little better to not have to be afraid of every airplane that passed over.
Say what you will about exploitation; I don't care. CBS's movie tonight was sobering. It was fascinating. It was gripping. It was emotional. It was well-done.
I am behind the war against terrorism with every cell that lives within me. Wipe them all out. Kill the fuckers. They are not innocent bystanders like the people they helped to kill. Even those who had no hand, who simply have the intent, they must be killed. I heard there are rumors now that the British government is considering overthrowing Saddam Hussein. I say do it, and let our mighty military forces back them up. Or lead the way.
Some call my feeling "blind patriotism". Some think Dubya and I are bigots, prejudiced against a certain group of people. Generalizing, stereotyping. Well, those people might be right. They claim that this should be a wake-up call to the US, that we should reconsider our foreign policy. Well, that's happening, I guarantee. The fact remains that these people are tainted. Not by their religion, their race, or their country of origin. Not by their social status or their wealth. By their choices. By their ignorance. By their blind, uneducated hatred of the US. Call it egotism, call it naive or stupid, call it whatever you want, I don't care. The USA is the mightiest nation on the planet and we did not become who and what we are by any means other than our people building this country up. I don't care who you are or what you believe, you don't attack us!! You just don't! You don't fuck with the USA! And, you don't kill innocent people to make your point, regardless of how you feel or who may or may not otherwise listen to you. Maybe there's a REASON why their voices were not heard by many. What did they hope to accomplish? Did they hope we'd all go "gee, I see your point" and start wearing beards and mistreating our women? Did they hope we'd all go "gee, we're sorry we made you mad, we'll change, we promise"? I certainly hope they weren't counting on the virgins in the afterlife, because they're going to be tremendously disappointed. I hope that the people responsible for this meet their death on the business end of a U.S. Marine's assault rifle or by receiving a missile up the ass.