And For Those Who Want It

Courtesy of’s Wayback Machine, what I wrote about 9/11 on September 12, 2001, the way it looked a decade ago.

8 Comments on “And For Those Who Want It”

  1. At the time, I was living in a city near a fairly large, busy airport. And I recall on September 12, walking down the street, walking back to my home from the store, and comign to a slow, perplexed stop. Wondering why I felt like a pressure had been lifted from me, why I felt like a thin sheet that had always been draped over me, was no longer there.

    And then a formation of four military jets rolled by at only a couple thousand feet, on patrol or on the hunt or on their way to the wars that we were already building up to, and I realized it was the constant coming and going of airliners that was missing.

    I also remember feeling a little chill at the fighter jets, because that was probably the first time in a long damn time where US combat aircraft were patroling US soil against what was feared to be an imminent attack. We really do relate to war as something that happens “somewhere over there” (possibly in a location we cant even find on a map).

    Unfortunately, the city where I lived also had lots of light polution, and there were buildings jammed together and trees and everything else, so my view of the sky is usually somethign on the order of a cone who’s sides were about 30 degrees off wahtever point was straight up. So, I never really got to see a sky free of planes (plus, you know, the fighter jets), day or night.

    Having grown up in the midwest where I could expect to at least once a day or so find myself in a position where my view of the sky wasn’t a cone, but a hemispherical dome, it’s still a little depressing.

  2. I did get to see skies free of passing planes. It was very quiet for those few days, except for military planes from an air force base not far away (the black planes with no markings were creepy). I remember the first commercial airliner I saw crossing the sky when regular flights were resumed. After having been exposed to so many repetitions of those awful images of planes flying into the towers, I felt a strange sense of anxiety seeing a real plane coming in low for the approach to BWI. I couldn’t help imagining the towers, wondering whether this plane was as low it would have to be to be at the same altitude as those planes in NYC. I’m sure it was the effect of all those damn televised videos, over and over and over. Right around that time, there was an animated ad (I don’t remember what it was advertising–a travel service maybe) that would come up on that featured a line drawing of a jet plane moving fast from left to right. It brought on a similar PTSD type reaction. I thought what a stupid ad it was to run at that time.

  3. I remember that quiet. I also remember my heart jumping into my throat when I heard a helicopter fly over the country club as I was resetting tables after lunch. The governor’s mansion was nearby, I assume it was headed there. It was the saddest day I ever lived through, and I was terrified at the thought of the war I knew was coming after.

    I too will be avoiding the media overload today.

  4. The Wayback Machine page also offers a list of “Previous Whatevers From 2001” and the one from September 10th is our host talking about ten years of writing, and ends “So there you have it, ten years of writing experience. Let’s see what the next ten years has in store” – normal enough in itself, of course, but retrospectively overshadowed by what was in store within 24 hours.

    There’s a special poignancy to the normalcy of “the day before”, whether followed by a personal or world-important event… Abba made use of it in “The Day Before You Came” about a new lover, and Mary Soon Lee in her Interzone story “The Day Before They Came” (anthologised in David G Hartwell’s Best SF 4), about the day before an alien invasion.

    And on Saturday BBC Radio broadcast an “Archive on 4” edition called “The Day Before 9/11”; it’s on Listen Again on the BBC iPlayer, though I don’t know if that is available worldwide:

    “Unease on the world markets, rumours that a key anti-Taliban leader had been assassinated and New York buzzing with its primary elections for city mayor, September 10th 2001 seems like a relatively normal news day. But looked at in hindsight it becomes freighted with meaning.
    “Presented by Paddy O’Connell, who was in New York covering Wall Street at the time, the programme features television and radio output from the 24 hours before the attacks. A portrait of New York, America and the wider world as it was the day before the towers came down.”

  5. What CV Rick said. Wish I had read that back then, as it’s a beautiful and tranquil image you described and has a certain amount of dignified poignancy for the situation. A much better image to remember of the day… Thanks

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