Friday, August 25, 2006

Twin Towers, the movie

Hubby and I went to see 9-11 today. I knew I didn't want to see it without him, and I was right.

As a movie, it was amazing. Hubby said it well when he commented on the problem of telling a story we all know and if you are of age to see and understand the movie, you also experienced the day in some way. The thing is, Oliver Stone really does build suspense into the movie, and he does it well.

It was interesting seeing the movie in Red State, because we lived here on 9-11-01. While one of my favorite bloggers, jo(e) said it much better than I, I too had intense memories of that day while watching the movie.

As they were getting up and ready for work, I recall waking pretty early in my Red State apartment. I puttered around a while, quietly, eating some breakfast and petting a cat or two. Realizing I had a bunch of grading to do, I sat on the couch, put the papers on the coffee table and turned on the TV. I saw a clearly disoriented morning show in progress, they were saying that a plane had hit one of the towers at the World Trade Center. A wobbly camera was showing one tower with a huge gash across its upper foors. The newscasters were trying to make sense of it, as were we all. Then the second plane hit, while the camera was facing the towers.

As I saw the world change before my eyes, I decided it was time to wake up hubby. When he realized the magnitude of what I was telling him, we crawled into bed and watched it on the small bedroom TV.... we really couldn't bear to move to the livingroom 10 feet away. We watched there in the semi-dark until the first tower fell.

Shortly after the second tower fell, we began to get phone calls. Calls from friends and family, checking in to see if everyone was ok. As the horror unfolded on our TVs, we reached out to those whom we love to make sure they were ok, to make sure that nobody we love was in NYC for business or pleasure that day. We were lucky to have no suspense in our clan -- everyone was accounted for and nobody was in the area. These days things would be much more intense, as there are two sweet couples in our family who live and work in Manhattan.

Slowly, as the enormity of the situation unfolded friends began to come over. We turned on the TVs to different stations and used our two computers to keep us up on internet news. We ate, drank soda and talked about the implications. We took comfort in having close friends around us and we were glad to act as surrogate families for those who were far from their own parents and siblings.

As a group, we held our breath while President Bush came from Louisianna to Red State and the safety of a very secure bunker. When Air Force One lifted off, as shown by a video camera on local news, we were all a bit relieved that if someone had plans to kill him, he wasn't going to die here. We also watched on the news as local reporters showed our old neighborhood in base housing under tight security. The gates were closed and manned by guys with machine guns. We'd moved out only the month before. Hubby was still technically in the military, as he was on terminal leave --- he wouldn't be fully out until 9-14.

After a while, the news became a bit overwhelming.... we turned down the sound and opened the patio doors. That was when we noticed the silence.... the enormous silence of no flights overhead, very few cars on the road and people hunkering down to see what happens next. The silence of a quiet city is something peculiar, it is like everyone is holding their collective breath until they see what happens. Even though the flights are back in the air, I'm not sure we've let our breath out yet.

As the sun set on a new world, began preparing for class in the morning. Clearly, we would have to talk about the Twin Towers, and I wanted to give my students a good ethics of warfare lesson so that they could understand not only that the attacks were wrong, but exactly why they were wrong. It was a pretty big task for a young adjunct philosophy teacher, but I didn't know enough to realize how big.

For the next few days we waited nervously for word that the military would put a stop on people leaving the military. We knew that if hubby were caught in that decision, there was a good chance he'd have to go fight someplace and wouldn't get to keep his computer job. On the evening of 9-14-01, we realized that he made it out and wouldn't have to go back in. For that we were very grateful... he'd done his time in the military and it was time to move on. In retrospect, we saw that the fact that the Pentagon got hit ment that we had less to worry about than we'd realized, as the Pentago would have to issue the order and it had been evacuated.

At the end Twin Towers, I decided that my dissertation work was too important not to do. Writing about the ethics of warfare is hard work, but it is something so central to the way our lives ought to be lived that it is important that I make my contribution.

1 comment:

Alice said...

I just dismissed my first group of 7th graders to their stations (I taught technology that year and they worked in small groups) when our school counselor ran in and quickly turned on my large screen TV. When I walked over with a puzzled look, she explained what happened and we both watched in horror as the second plane hit the tower. Meanwhile, my kids were oblivious -- TV was facing away from their stations, we kept the sound low, and they were too engrossed in their projects anyway. I will never forget that day: silent prayers, cheerful smiles for kids (we decided that parents should break the news), and this dreadful feeling that the world will never be the same.