of Darkness Redux
September 19, 2001
I feel as if my synapses are sputtering like sparkler's you
buy during an Independence Day sale. But no, I tell myself,
I am all too much awake and witness to an unprecedented act
of violence upon part of the United States.
My husband and I leave our clock radio on overnight to help
us fall asleep, tuned to our local public radio station, KSMU.
I was in bed, caught on the edge of awakening, when I heard
Bob Edwards of NPR's Morning Edition say (in his usual mild
mannered tone) that one of the World Trade Center tower's
was on fire. I threw my blanket back, and ran straight out
into our living room to see if my husband had the TV on.
He himself had just gotten up, and was making coffee in our
kitchen as the images slowly became clear on the screen. I
stood in front of our TV, not moving away to retrieve my glasses
so I could sit down. I was frozen clutching my hands together
and saying, "Are you watching? Do you see what is happening
?" Then the second tower just burst into flames before my
eyes, also near the highest point on the tower. I know that
something is happening that our country has not prepared for.
As the Today Show correspondents found out along with the
rest of us watching, it was not bombs that exploded inside
both towers, but two US airplanes that caused the carnage
after they flew directly into them, just minutes apart. And
as I am struggling with this reality, I hear the voice of
their Pentagon reporter, Jim Miklaszewski, saying, "I don't
want to alarm anyone" before telling us that the floor of
the Pentagon just shook like a bomb went off. And then, there
comes the shot of the smoking Pentagon, and the questions
start; "Could it possibly have been a plane crash?" And yes,
it was, and, oh no, all three planes had been hijacked.
I wasn't supposed to be home that Tuesday morning; but, because
my boss had to take off that afternoon, I was scheduled to
come in at 11:30 a.m. I went ahead and got ready for work,
and was told by my husband after my shower that both WTC towers
had collapsed upon themselves, and that a fourth plane that
crashed outside of Pittsburgh as also most likely the work
I have visited both Manhattan and D.C., and have friends
and family in both, so there was that close, uncomfortable
worry for their welfare and safety (all have been accounted
for since the attack). Not to mention that my husband and
I still plan to fly to San Francisco in two weeks to attend
his daughter's wedding. I find myself stunned and overwhelmed
with emotion, as I continue to watch the images of person
after person covered ins ash and debris from Manhattan, to
the Pentagon smoldering, and the President unaccounted for.
I am numb. I want to say something that sounds like the right
thing, that sounds like I have some grasp already on what
I know will shape into a new war. I am a pacifist, a humanist,
and an American. I want all options examined, and a peaceful
resolution sought. I am not, however, naive enough to believe
that the use of force will result in low casualties on any
side that gets involved.
I couldn't sleep the night following the attack. It is now
nearly a week since then, and I am sleeping, but I am not
back in my normal routines.
The time has come for changes, including the way I conduct
myself from day to day, and that has been slow going. And
all I can think as I shut my TV off for the first time since
last Tuesday are the words of Commander Kurtz from Joseph
Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the words he utters before he
dies: "The horror, the horror."