Monday, September 10, 2007

The Ugliest Day

#292 The Ugliest Day

The question is getting a little tired: “Did you leave New York because of 9/11?”

The answer was “no” and the answer is STILL “no.”

But, still, it was the Ugliest Day. And the scariest. Until now.

Where’s the monument? It’s been more than half a decade since the buildings came down? And where’s the unity that flared for a mere moment afterward?

The buildings had a total of more than 200 floors. If they had been spread out on the ground, they would be bigger than many cities. When you add in the part of the pentagon that was attacked and the hijacked plane the passengers crashed in that field in Pennsylvania – the one that might have been on its way to the White House, you get square footage about the size of Atlanta that was wiped out.

The Viet vets are fond of saying “if you weren’t there, you don’t know. You can’t know.” And that’s true of those of us in Manhattan that day, too. They stopped the trains. People walked. They talked among themselves.

Getting cross town about eight hours after the attack, Central Park never looked so beautiful. And the ugly stranger walking next to you was, suddenly, a pal, and a handsome one, at that.

While our friends and neighbors and co-workers were dead or dieing a couple of miles to the south, we had escaped and now we had to fight back. And we were joined by – well, it seemed like everyone. Countries that didn’t speak to America became allies. Countries that already were allies became close friends. And inside the country, briefly – but only briefly, we seemed to forget about our differences.

Stuff that kept us apart – politics, religion, geography, economic status, didn’t seem to matter.

This didn’t last long. The strutting mayor had been bombed out of his 23rd floor bunker in a building near the World Trade Center. A bunker 23 floors in the air? Yes. Only in New York. The first thing he did was look for a new home for the bunker. And then he went on television and stayed there forever. It was reassuring in a way. It got real old, real fast.

Almost as fast as the resolve and the unity and the alliances faded.

One thing you don’t hear about much: the WTC in its collapse began to stink. And the stink took its time working its way uptown. It was almost a week before the stink reached the upper east side. And people were wondering “what’s that stink?”

The answer: a couple of dead skyscrapers the size of Atlanta, and the remains of 3,000 or so dead people.

Now, it’s six years later. Our politicians and our allegiances and our religions and geographies and our economic status have resumed their rightful places.

The guy walking next to you is stupid and ugly again.

And somewhere in a cave, an absurd, tall man in robes and a wearing a scraggly beard and sitting on a pile of money that’s the size of lower Manhattan is still laughing at us and still threatening us.

And half of us are worried about being unkind to stereotypical middle easterners, while half of us are itching to start WWIII. Or is it WWIV, but without a clue of how to go about it.

And THIS is the ugliest day. And the scariest.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR


Bruce said...

well put

Anonymous said...

My contribution was titled The Iron Anniversary

Charles of MercuryRising

4737 The Cheerleader

   Y ou may think this is an a-bomb but it isn’t. It’s just a teenager reacting to a perceived slight.   Old saw: When a dog bites a man...