Five days after my 26th birthday, and 20 years ago today, Mom awoke me at 8:49 a.m. and said to turn on the TV. She said an airplane crashed into the World Trade Center.
My ears perked. I turned down the prospect of sleeping to watch CNN.
If you were alive that day, then I don’t need to tell you that my eyes were glued to TVs the rest of the morning. Later that day and for the rest of the week, I channel surfed to gain different camera angles and unedited commentaries. Because social media tools didn’t exist in the way they exist today, I was addicted to knowing what was happening as it happened.
As the FBI investigated leads across the country, I remembered visiting those cities during a 24,000-mile roadtrip that ended a week earlier. Las Vegas, Phoenix, Sacramento, Boston. When federal agents surmised that terrorists boarded a ferry from Nova Scotia to Maine a week before 9/11, I shuddered that they could have been on my ferry!
People bought American flags and patriotism ran amok.
I repeated that experience when I discovered the 9/11 Television News Archive.
The archive contains 3,000 hours of domestic and international news coverage from 20 channels over seven days beginning on September 11, 2001. It’s surreal.
One of the lessons of 9/11 is that anything can happen to anyone at any time. We can’t take life for granted. Maybe we need an inspirational video about a cardboard box to reflect on our mortality.