A few years ago on this blog, I wrote about my memories of the 9/11 attack.
I’ll never forget that morning in 2001. Getting up early as I always do, walking to my home office, and visiting Dave Winer’s Scripting News as I usually did – I began to learn what had happened that morning.SJL.us – September 11, 2011
A day to remember. Always.
This afternoon I took a walk around the pond at a local park nearby. While walking, I listened to a podcast with Garrett Graff, author of the new book “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11“. Michael Morrell interviewed Graff about his book and had him read several passages from it – a very moving experience.
I was struck, in particular, about Graff’s opening comments about the innocence of America that morning. About how we just went about our business – at first. Here’s his voice from the interview transcript:
“I think that one of the things that’s hard to capture but that is captured in an oral history format is both how innocent America was at 8:46 in the morning and how confusing the day was for those who were living it. …
You know, to me the most interesting moment of the day comes between 8:46 in the morning and 9:03, the first crash and the second crash. Because we now know that that first crash was the beginning of the 9/11 plot.
No one knew that on the morning of 9/11. And there’s this incredibly odd moment, those 17 minutes where America sort of looks at that crash and in some ways shrugs and says, “Oh, that’s sort of weird,” like, must be a problem in air traffic control, or maybe the pilot had a heart attack. …
…one of the voices that I tell in the book that I found sort of especially striking was a ferry captain in New York Harbor who saw that first plane crash, continued around the tip of Lower Manhattan, docked his ferry. And every single one of the commuters on board got off and went to work in Lower Manhattan. There wasn’t a single person on that boat who saw that crash and was, like, “You know what? This seems weird. I’m just going to turn around and go home for the day.”
… And that’s actually something hard to capture for the country now, because we have a country now, you saw the video over the summer of the motorcycle backfiring in Times Square and everyone runs for their lives. And, we now default to terrorism or a shooting incident in our society today until proven otherwise. And that was not what America was on 9/11.
And that you see sort of just how innocent America was that morning.
Innocent we were indeed. May we never forget.
Update: Graff has an article on Wired titled Pagers, Pay Phones, and Dialup: How We Communicated on 9/11. Also, see this excerpt from his book on Politico.com titled We May Have to Shoot Down This Aircraft.