Friday, September 14, 2001

To Remember...

I decided to take a part of today, the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, to start writing about this week's tragedy. I couldn't earlier and put the news box up to accomodate for that fact. So much has happened.

Everyone says you will remember exactly where you were when you first heard the news. I'm going to start with the first moment I heard that the Murrah Building had been bombed in Oklahoma in 1995. I was in London, England with the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. As I descended the hotel staircase into the lobby, my chaperone held up a newspaper that had a picture of the devastated building on the front. On the plane ride back (which was delayed 3 hours due to police taking a possible suspect into custody) we watched the horror on the television screen. It's funny how that compares with six years later.

On Tuesday morning, I was waiting for the elevator to take me down to the print shop. I heard two security guards talking about how they couldn't find anything on the radio. I thought to myself, "What.. don't like the music on the stations around here anymore?" After visiting the print shop, I made my way back to the elevator. Ellen from Information Services came around the corner and said, "Did you know that two planes have hit the World Trade Centers?" And that was that. I tried to check the Internet, but wasn't getting far. We turned on the radio and tried to figure out what was happening. That's when I started checking the message boards. It was a mixture of hate/revenge and shock. It was the Yahoo! message boards that told me the Pentagon had been hit and that another plane was still unaccounted for.

Soon someone was able to get the television in my boss' office hooked up. We were glued to it for the rest of the day minus some decisions on security and some quick press releases. Controlled chaos on our end. There were some tense moments when Matt and I thought that Melissa's sister may have been on one of the planes that crashed into the Towers. Radio reports were telling of a Jamestown-area native who was a flight attendant and had been on one of those planes. Matt called Melissa, but it was ok.. Claire was with her. Unfortunately, the reports were true.. a Celoron-native had died. My Aunt Carol called somewhere in there and we made plans to get together for dinner since she was in town and didn't want to be alone. The day was so surreal.

The following days have felt ackward. My boss cancelled all political activity for the week. I would think I should be working on some event or press release and remember that it was cancelled or post-poned until next week. It's strange being on this side. Watching Mark make decisions about events and what level of security to have around our buildings. I have watched hours of tv. One of my proudest moments came when I read on-line that Steven (guy I grew up with that's like a little brother to me) had re-mixed "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton to include soundbites from the day's news. I listened to it yesterday and got a little weepy.

Today I wear red, white and blue (although it's slightly subtle). I even attended a memorial service at the church next to the County Office Building. It's amazing how those hymns come back even though you haven't sung them in years (referring to St. Francis the Assisi song). I still wouldn't say I'm religious. It's just doing something with other people that makes me feel better. That's the strange part. I haven't felt really emotional. I guess it's the shock of it all or maybe the detachment of being a journalist at heart. I sometimes feel like I'm wading through thick molasses and at other times trying to figure out why people are having trouble operating. Yes, this is a huge tragedy, but moping around and crying won't help the situation. I know this is where some psychiatrist comes in and tells me that the grieving process is different for everyone. I just want to fix the situation, take out the appropriate terrorists without causing World War III, clean up the rubble in NYC, respectfully return the remains of victims to their families, and set about re-building the Pentagon and some version of a World Trade Center.. appropriate memorials in place. Just to have it all over with. To be back to some version of normalcy.

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