Yeah, I remember September 11. I remember where I was when it happened.
I was getting ready for work. At the time, I was a high-school dropout who worked construction. I was watching “Good Morning America” on television, eating breakfast.
Charlie Gibson was on TV talking about something nobody cared about. Morning-show ridiculousness. Something like stir fry cooking. Or feng shui. Or El Niño. Or whatever America was talking about back then.
And the TV cut to an image of the burning skyscraper.
“One of the World Trade Center towers appears to be on fire,” the newscaster said.
I was about to leave the house and turn off the TV. But then I saw something. From the corner of the screen, hurtling through the sky, came a commercial aircraft. The plane hit the building. A gaping hole was torn into the South Tower.
The newscasters went silent.
Live television. I watched the passengers die on live television.
Finally someone broke the television broadcast silence. I don’t even remember what they said, but I remember what
I felt. I felt scared. I felt as though our whole way of life had been threatened.
Later, I went to work on the construction job site. But nobody was working. Everyone was watching a portable television set. Black and white screen. With an antenna. We were sitting on the porch of an unfinished house. Wearing unsoiled jeans and boots.
And we were listening in rapt silence to interviews from firemen, policemen, and anyone who had watched the towers crumble.
One of my coworkers was an older man named Robert. Robert was tough. He had navy tattoos, and cropped silver hair. His hands were the size of supermarket chickens.
And he was crying.
I remember showing up to the job site the following morning and being surprised at what I saw. Draped over the banister of an unfinished home was an American flag.