I was doing laundry when the phone rang.
My husband told me to turn on the TV. A plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center building in New York City.
The Today Show came into focus just as the second plane hit the South Tower.
And then the Pentagon.
And reports of missing planes. Hijacked planes. Planes crashing into fields. Terrorists with box cutters.
Sitting at home, I watched the chaos. One of the fortunate ones who watched from a distance.
Watched the panic and terror and desperation. Watched bodies fall from implausible heights to preordained effect.
Unable and unwilling to imagine a scenario that would result in a fully flourishing human being’s decision to leap from a window, knowing with certainty that the choice was not whether to die, but how.
The enormity of that false choice. Because there is no choice when the end result of any decision is the same.
True choices that predetermined the fate of the 3000-plus people who perished were made by others both thousands of miles away and closer to home, for reasons that can never be fully comprehended and for which there is no justification, validation or defense.
Leaving the rest of us to watch.
And to account for the remains of the day.
The height of the buildings. The number of floors. The weight of the steel. The temperature of the fires. The height of the rubble piles. The depth of the holes. The length of the field. The trajectory of the planes.
The names and number of the dead.
The cost and the consequences.
Compressed and fossilized in our memories – and extracted in a macabre archeological dig that goes to shallower depths each passing year.
The photographs and still images of the World Trade Center towers burning now overlaid with slogans. Posted and reposted on Facebook. To engender prejudice. To elicit prayer. To pander to political beliefs.
And this is what happens I suppose.
Every generation’s tragedy becomes the next generation’s talking point. Or Oscar-winning film starring Tom Hanks.
Had Facebook been around in 1953, perhaps there would have been images of the USS Arizona burning into the ocean at Pearl Harbor overlaid with anti-Eisenhower slogans proclaiming Day of Infamy Indeed!
And so it goes.
That’s all I have to say about that.