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On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, I was living in Springfield, IL. I had been laid off from my previous employer back at the end of July so my usual routine was to get up, make the coffee, check my email and the various job hunting sites for anything within my skills and career field to apply to, then surf the news sites. That routine stayed pretty much the same, even the week before when I had visited my best friend in Jacksonville, FL for a week, having returned to Springfield on Saturday, September 8.
It was a sunny morning and my then feline companion had joined me at the computer when I saw the first news article about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. My first thought was something small like a single engine Cessna or something. Then I saw the reports of a second plane having hit the World Trade Center and knew my first thoughts had been so very wrong.
When I saw the news of the second plane, I turned on the TV and checked CNN. I think I hit there just as the South Tower was collapsing because all I really remember from that point was the confusion. I spent the rest of the morning in front of the TV, watching, just as millions of others around the country. I was sitting there feeling impotent and wanting to do something so contacted the local Red Cross. I wound up going in to their offices and giving blood. Along with a couple of hundred other folks in the Springfield area (my guess is that most blood banks across the country hit their capacity for at least a few weeks after 9/11).
I had spent most of the previous year (2000) officially living in Manchester, CT but commuting into Manhattan on Mondays and home to Manchester on Fridays via Amtrak and living during the week in a furnished studio in Battery Park City. Most mornings, I would walk up South End Ave to the World Financial Center where I would duck into the lobby, up to the walkway over West St and down to Liberty St. The first few months, I had been working down on John St near the South Street Seaport. I would head on up Liberty Street, past the Deutsche Bank Building, crossing over Broadway and down through the financial district. Occasionally, I would go to the local offices of my then employer on Wall St, so would head down past the Stock Exchange (and The Bull) but nothing at that end of Manhattan was much more than a ten to fifteen minute walk. After a few months, I was going over to offices on 16th St, near Union Square, so I would catch the N or R lines of the subway in the basement of the South Tower.
Now, as the name of my blog says, I’m a small town country boy and was not all that happy spending that year in Manhattan. The people I worked with were wonderful, friendly, hard-working people but there was just too much concrete for me, so when the opportunity opened up for Springfield, I transferred there. In a case of “be careful of what you ask for as you might get it,” I’m fairly certain I would not have been laid off if I had stayed with the projects in Manhattan. Yet there I was in the middle of the country, watching my “old neighborhood” on TV.
I know there were people I saw most every day who were injured or killed on September 11, 2001. There was a New York Fire Department Engine and ladder company on Liberty St, across from the South Tower and the Deutsche Bank Building. I’ve never been able to find out what happened to those first responders but I’m sure they were involved in the rescues. Most of the mornings when I was going to Union Square, I was in the offices by 7AM but occasionally, I would have to go to meetings over in Brooklyn and would be back on the subway, connecting to the A line under the towers so that I could get to a 9AM meeting on time. If the attack had come one year earlier, I would have been in the middle of it.
I don’t recall who sent me this picture (warning, it may load very slowly) but the little triangle on the left hand side of the picture sits on top of the building I lived in so you can see the scale of things. It was taken a couple of weeks after the attack.
The other thing that has stood out in my mind since September 11, 2001, besides wondering about the folks I passed each day going to and from work, was seeing the affects of media consolidation. Like many people, my attention span is not always able to stay with one thing for all that long sometimes. I recall channel surfing that morning and afternoon. I think except for Turner Classic Movies and maybe the Weather Channel, most every other cable and broadcast network available was broadcasting their parent’s top news anchors. TNT and TBS were with CNN. ESPN, ESPN2, Disney Channel all had ABC News. CBS News was on MTV, VHI, BET and the other Viacom networks. Fox News was on FX, Fox Sports, National Geographic, and some others. NBC News was on USA, Bravo, MSNBC, CNBC, and others. I had sixty some channels available to me on the Springfield cable system yet there were only five news sources showing.
And because I can:
Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor