About this time five years ago, I stood in my kitchen eating breakfast and talking on the phone to a FedEx rep about a missing package. “Oh Jesus. A plane just flew into the World Trade Center,” I mumbled, watching the live images on The Today Show.
The FedEx rep in Memphis dropped the phone; her co-worker would pick-up about 30 seconds later to explain that the woman’s husband was a pilot for Northwest who was bound for New York City that morning.
As the day unfolded, my partner tried desperately to drive home from his job in New York, where nearly all the bridges were closed out of concern for security. My mom and grandma, both of whom watched the same television newscast that reported as many as 12 airplanes were missing and en route to Washington, D.C., were frantic to know that I was OK, and that Shawn was OK in New York.
We were OK, but life still changed that day.
Things that we took for granted were yanked out from under us. And we adjusted to new things, like near-strip searches at the airport and the sound of F-16 fighter jets at low altitude, patrolling the skies over the Federal City (which I heard this morning as I walked out my front door). And in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, as the death toll mounted, we learned that we had friends on the plane and on the ground at the Pentagon. Whether or not people lived or died seemed like a cruel lottery.
An eternity has passed since then, and many people I know now associate that painful day with a different kind of assault on America, an attack from within. While my neighborhood was filled with American flags in the days following 9/11, and even more so on the first anniversary, today — on the fifth anniversary — there are very, very few.
Maybe people are busy; maybe people are tired; or maybe people have the fatigue that comes from seeing one of America’s darkest hours turned into an overly politicized soundbite that has been exploited time and time again to justify wars, failures and the stripping down of rights and liberties.
Photo: A memorial of 185 points of light, aimed last night at the skies above The Pentagon and visible from my neighborhood about 10 blocks north of the White House.