It was a normal Tuesday morning, 20 years ago this morning, when someone stopped by my desk to say that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and that we were under attack. Little did I know that for once, Chicken Little was right and the sky really was falling.
Most of the morning remains a blur. Updates were hard to get through traditional sources and most of the news I was getting was from the old Warren Ellis forum on Delphi and whatever incarnation of the Bendis Board was up at the time. At one point, I went out to my car to get an update from the Howard Stern show, which at the time was on a one hour tape delay here in Chicago, but we were one of the few markets that cut away from the show in order to simulcast a news station.
We all know what happens next: the Pentagon gets hit, another flight crashes in Pennsylvania, and, eventually, the towers fell. We went to a pretty deserted Superdawg for lunch that day, listening to the radio for updates the entire time. I remember the eerie drive to the gym after work, as people were as polite as they’ve even been on the roads.
The legacy of that day is messy. Two long, ill-advised wars followed. The nation united in a way that it is unable, or unwilling, to do today, as the COVID pandemic, our biggest tragedy since the 9/11 attacks, continues to rage as the right battles against both masks and vaccinations.
It’s a day that, for a little while, unified the country, but at great cost. A day we would all like to forget. A day we never will.