Greetings from Livingston, Alabama. Don’t ask me why I’m here. I’m a “corporate pilot,” and the one thing you need to know about being a corporate pilot is that you’re often called to give up your weekends. And so the Boss needed to come up here for this one. While he’s doing…whatever…I’m stuck in a motel until Sunday. In the middle of nowhere.
It’s a living.
Okay, 9/11. First of all, it's a sad day for all of us. We are a changed nation now. More angry, more paranoid, more protective, more self-righteous. More willing than ever to go wage war on anyone who threatens our "way of life." More willing to strike first than to be struck again in that way.
But secondly, today is my birthday. The terrorists have screwed-up my birthday forever, right? I know, it's trivial compared to the seriousness and importance of the day in general.
But then, why do we put so much importance on birthdays in the first place? My email inbox had numerous birthday greetings today. My Facebook page too (don’t we all have them?). A friend from PHI who I have not spoken to in years and years? Oh, and people at work were bubbly with “Happy Birthday!” Yeah, even the Boss. Even that rat-bastard Hal Johnson…whose blog I usually highly recommend but have since changed my mind…who I thought would have the decency to just leave it be just had to chime in. It seems that the more you try to ignore or downplay your birthday, the more people just have to remind you of them. Strange, that.
I turned 54 today, okay? I’m not real happy about it, and to be honest I would rather not have been reminded. Time is flying by at an alarming rate. It used to go so slowly. When did it speed up? This year has been the blink of an eye.
On this day eight years ago, I woke up, got a cup of coffee and got online right away as usual. A friend immediately IM’d me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. Bewildered, I turned my TV on…
It probably began that way for millions of us. Everyone has their own “9/11” story.
For me, the strangest thing about that morning was the Pentagon crash. First reports were that a “car bomb” or explosion of some sort had gone off “outside” at the Pentagon. First reports were not that a plane had crashed. Only later did we learn that it was actually a plane…a big plane…a friggin’ Boeing 757 that crashed into the Pentagon.
I always thought that was odd. I wondered how people could mistake a 757 for a car bomb? Wouldn’t the first reports be that a big plane crashed into the Pentagon?
A pilot for American Airlines was enroute to Chicago when he received this message from Dispatch directing him to divert to Kansas City (the airport code of which is "MCI"):
U NEED TO LAND MCI
THERE IS NO SPECIFIC THREAT AGAINST U BUT
2 AAL ACFT HAVE BEEN CRASHED
UAL IS INVOLVED AND WE ARE HEARING THAT
THE PENTAGON HAS BEEN BOMBED
And so call me a tin-foil hat-wearing conspiracy nut, but I’ve always suspected that there was more to the Pentagon crash than the government has told us. I don’t know what, but I would not rule anything out.
Everything changed on "9/11." It is probably unnecessary to say that generations from now, we will look back on that awful day as a major turning point in our country’s history.
Next year, if I mark my birthday at all (and I certainly do not intend to), it'll be on September 1st, not the 11th.
Whine Mode: OFF