No glib snark today. No bullet points. Where are you eight years later? I wrote this in 2003. Five years ago, I posted my comments from three years earlier made at my pal Steve’s blog, Acts of Volition. Here they are again:
[7:48 AM September 17, 2001]
I have found myself, like everyone else, having been staring at the TV in a daze for days. I was in the middle of a presentation at the curling rink in Summerside last Tuesday when someone came into the room to tell what was going on. I drove home at lunch and the TV has seemingly been on ever since. One thing that has happened here in New Glasgow, PEI is that there are no passenger jets overhead flying between Europe and the US east coast. Usually there are 5 to 10 in the sky at any one time. You notice the silence. I have seen two con-trails but am reliably told that it is likely a US military refueling tanker. Moncton airport apparently has about 5 US jets operating out of it now, according to a PEI air traffic controller.
I flew the flag at half mast. Most people did around here. I have thought alot about the bit of business I have done in the US on four trips in the last year and the people I have met. I thought about the road in Connecticut I drove down with Dan and Nathan after getting a bit lost one evening trying to find the sea from a place near Hartford. The road was parallel to the one we wanted as it turned out. It was fifty miles of large homes on forested lots – multi-car garages, guest houses. As we drove south cars passed us going north, going home for the night. When we hit the coast road, the commuter train station was full of people heading for what looked to us Maritimers as luxery cars, coming home from a workday in the City, in Manhattan. The next day, I bought a big Connecticut flag – like I like to wherever I travel. I flew it at half mast Sunday.
[7:56 AM September 19, 2001]
I was interested in reading Peter’s comments as a first crisis as a Dad. The same is true for me. I have these echoes of war in the past that the 1990’s had silenced. When I was a child in suburban Ontario in the late 60’s I remember asking my mom if we were at war. We were watching Vietnam on TV. I remember having bombing dreams after Dad told me for the millionth time that when he was my age, Hitler carpet bombed his grannies house along with their whole town – Greenock, Scotland – for three days. I remember heading about the fall of Saigon on the school bus heading to junior high. I remember the fear in high school and undergrad that Ronnie R. and Leonid B. would vaporize us all. I remember in law school wondering with the rest of the team if the intermural basketball game should go on given that the US had just started bombing Bagdad. And Rwanda and Bosnia…and then nothing… No big events for eight years. Relatively speaking peace was breaking out, the UN acted in Cambodia, Bosnia, Kosovo. Things were being handled. I moved into a good career, got married, got a mortgage and a couple of kids. Then the buildings fell down…Driving to work the other day I actually got a start when I saw, coming down the Brackley Road, low on the horizon a Dash Eight coming into land at the airport. I saw in my mind that building. One one hand, we gen’ x’ers have some experience of this stuff. On the other hand, we gen’ x’ers have some experience of this stuff…
[10:38 AM September 19, 2001]
A good reference but, for me, at 38, having lived my first 28 or so during the Cold war, the presence of war and the potential to be sucked into one personally was never “violence unthinkable” despite how the life of a Canadian 20-something gen’ x’er in Nova Scotia was so peaceful and fun. On top of the fears, I wrote about above, my folks moved in ’56 to avoid the Third World War believed coming due to Hungary, French-Indochina and the Suez. When I got my UK Right of Abode in 1981, my mother thought Maggie T. might draft me for the Falkins. The fear of the bomb. We were living in our own minds on borrowed time and as a result were in no rush to prepare for kids, mortgages and careers. My 20’s were different from your – perhaps until now. From the fall of the Wall until the falling of the WTC there was a period of freedom from “the bomb” that I think I will not experience for a while.
Alan McLeod [7:33 AM September 24, 2001]
Like everyone, I am still thinking about what has happened and how things have changed since 11 September. One thing I think has changed is that irony and cynicism as a guiding principle for one’s life has been severely undermined. In North American popular culture for 20 years or so, the ability to comment upon any proposition with a tongue in cheek reort has been acceptable, almost expected and often a winning point in a conversation. David Letterman was an early adherent. We were so witty that we could turn any philosophical proposition or political stance around to show its paradoxical components and therefore its lack of integrity. Few principles could sustain the probe – wealth was bad but being a bleeding heart helping the poor is pointless emotionality; liking art was lightheaded but disliking art was neanderthalic; being involved with politics was self-interested, not being involved…well that was OK because that serves irony. The dominance of irony seems to have been swept away this month. Friends, beauty, nature, reflection are all assets we are being told to lean upon to understand the world now. Causes are largely just, protests are mute and people have gotten nicer on the highways. Will it last? Will street people have enough coin to get things to eat? Will we like our new neighbours and ask to try their strange foods? Will we stop thinking about our own inadequacies at work or home and enjoy the day?
What has changed in my life since the attacks? I have made a point of being in the USA often, mostly across in New York. It started out in part because we are so near but also to make sure the kids see US soldiers in normal life like they see members of the Canadian military in our streets in Kingston in uniform… even in my living room and on our vintage baseball team and at the Royal Military College games. When you see a young family in a mall, the Mom or Dad or both with the cut or even uniform of the 10th Mountain division from nearby Fort Drum, NY they know who they are also seeing on the news. It also makes you feel old, knowing that people half you age are pulling your weigh. I constantly listen to, am slightly obsessed with and am an active member of a NPR station that even runs the feed of this blog on their website as part of figuring out what “regional” means.
And I also remember.