On the tenth anniversary of a most tragic day in my nation’s history, like everyone else I feel obliged to share the story of where I was when I heard about what happened.
I was fifteen years old and on vacation with my mother at the time. We were in a tiny Maine town near the Canadian border, staying in lodgings which consisted of a couple of one-room converted sheds in the back of some woman’s backyard.
On the morning of the day in question Mom and I were doing laundry in preparation for a hiking trip planned for later that day. It was a lovely day if I remember, not too hot or too cold, and the sky was so blue you wanted to grab a handful from the sky and eat it.
As we were messing with our clothes in the laundromat, a man came to get his out of the dryer. They were stone cold. “I forgot all about them,” he explained to us as he tried to smooth out the wrinkles, “because of the bombings.”
“What bombings?” we asked.
“You didn’t hear?”
“The World Trade Center is gone,” he said. “The Pentagon is burning down. Some terrorist attack. There are, like, thousands of people dead.”
Mom and I rushed back to our converted shed. I was half convinced that the man had been playing some kind of joke on us, but all illusions were lost when we turned on the TV.
It seemed unpatriotic, sacreligious even, to have any fun that day. We spent the day inside, glued to the tube, periodically calling Dad for moral support. We had to fly home two days later. It was awful and I found myself looking suspiciously at every brown-skinned guy I saw. Yet there was a great sense of cameraderie among those few of us that were on that flight. A great pulling-together and all that.
Today is my brother Brendan’s birthday. Sucks to be him, that he has his birthday on a national day of mourning.