Driving to campus on the 11th is always odd, because it was on a drive to campus in 2001 that the attacks took place. Today it is clear, but high haze -- and contrails in the east. I cannot think of 9/11 without thinking of the clear, planeless skies over West Michigan for several days.
I thought I was done with the 9/11 remembrances for the day, the last being the reading of a moving piece by retired Chief Warrant Officer Jim Wright -- to which I had commented about my drive in and how the university has been affected. But as I settled in to do some late night writing, I flipped channels and ran smack into MSNBC.
They were doing once again the NBC essentially realtime version of "9/11 As It Happened". It's the realtime part which gets to me. This isn't an edited documentary, a docudrama or movie feature. This is people trying to get information, who don't know what it happening, and all the speculations and rumors. And to be very truthful, many of the commentators were very circumspect against making outrageous statements.
But it is the relentless of the clock which is the key. The voices, the phrases, the images -- the shock of it all -- which brings back a flood of emotions.
I Wasn't There, But I Was Here
Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo played very little part in all this. I know some flights were grounded at GRR in Grand Rapids. However, I was around.
Many of my students were just kids seven years ago. We are already divided into those who lived through either the event, the cities or the news, and increasingly we will be divided with those who never experienced 9/11 in realtime.
There'll be no visceral gut wrenches with certain parts of the realtime narrative. No shock in the unrealness of it all. To the those who were too young, not tuned in or coming in future generations, 9/11 will indeed just be special effects from a big action movie.
I shall endeavor to be kind to those in the future -- and continue in my role as teacher.