I have never written about this, but reading Jeff jarvis’ article on Buzzmachine reminds me of that dreadful night here in Australia.
I was sitting up with my wife watching West Wing on TV. My son (about 13 then) had gone to bed. The television station broke into the show with a news flash about the first tower being hit by a plane. At first I thought it was part of the show. West Wing finished (About 20 minutes later) and we went to a U.S. news feed.
There was confusion. About that time the second plane hit the second tower, and Peter Jennings was wondering if the air traffic control system could be directing planes in the wrong direction. At one point he rather angrily asked for a monitor in front of his desk so he could see what he was talking about.
I remember watching in stunned horror. Jeff Jarvis (and thousands of others) were there.
I was on the other side of the world, with tears streaming down my face, thinking (for once) ahead of the TV presenters that this was deliberate.
What began in the Early morning for America was late at night for me, starting around 11pm. My wife and I sat up all night, crying as the first and then the second tower came down live in front of us.
I thought about getting my son out of bed at midnight. I regret that I did not.
Twelve years later he still remembers my words when he came out of his bedroom the next morning. I had been awake for 26 hours and I told him “You have woken up in a different world to the one you went to sleep in.“ I was right, but I had no idea how right.
Then I got dressed and went to work at the University of Sydney. I have no idea how I stayed awake through the next 16 hours, but I did. The Engineering faculty posted a web page explaining why the towers had collapsed. I cannot find the link, it may be gone, but it was clear and convincing.
The local TV networks continued to show the live feed from the U.S. news networks for several days before resuming normal programming and I have many images burned into my memory from those terrible hours.
I have no theme, thought or finale to this post other than to repeat the immortal words “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” (Nietzsche) Those words still have power.
America, I am thinking of you today, and shedding another tear as I write this.