In September 2001, though I didn’t know it at the time, I was in my final months of my 9-year employment at Information Management Associates of Irvine, CA. I had been working from home here in De Pere, WI for 3 years. Our company was just purchased by a British company, and as part of those proceedings, remote employees like me were required to travel to our headquarters in Meriden, CT to fill out paperwork, officially ending our employment at IMA and starting over with the new company (though I was subsquently laid off 5 months later).
So, I traveled to Connecticut on the second weekend of September. The official business of paperwork only took one day, and I flew home from the airport in Hartford, CT to Green Bay on Monday, September 10, 2001. As the events of the next morning unfolded, I felt chills as I found out that commercial airliners heading west from the northeast part of our country were hijacked by terrorists.
I had turned on the TV here in my office after I heard news of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. While news anchors described that event, I watched a second plane hit the south tower on live TV at 8:03am central time. What a sight! Tricia had just walked into my office and I remember telling her, “look, another plane just hit the tower and the news people aren’t even talking about it yet.”
I also remember sending an e-mail to my boss, telling him that I was very distracted by the events of the day and probably wouldn’t finish a project I was working on. Being a news junkie already, I was glued to the TV and the internet for days. In the following weeks, I remember a few things clearly.
I remember David Letterman’s TV show on September 17, his first show “after the attack”. He gave a somber and honest monologue sitting behind his desk. I’m not going to describe it. Watch it for yourself on YouTube.
I remember when Saturday Night Live went back on the air, with Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, producer Lorne Michaels and many of New York’s finest first responders. SNL’s 27th season hadn’t started yet, so their September 29 episode was the scheduled premier. The show opened with a brief monologue by Mayor Guiliani, followed by Paul Simon, the consumate New Yorker, singing “The Boxer”. The opening ended with Michaels asking Guiliani, “can we be funny?” To which Guiliani answered, “why start now?” It had been a couple of weeks, and the Mayor of New York was giving us permission and imploring us to laugh again. Mayor Guiliani was an instrumental and necessary personality in the healing of our country.
I was on the Education Council at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Parish at the time. I also maintained the parish web site. At our monthly meetings, I always gave a report of recent activity on the web site. I remember telling the committee that in the days following September 11, traffic on our web site had spiked significantly. Perhaps it was due to parishoners just looking for some words of wisdom from our pastor, it’s hard to say. But I remember how lost many Americans felt. Many of us just didn’t know what to do with our feelings. Reaching out to our faith community seemed quite normal, and proved very helpful for me.
I have many other memories from that time. Interfaith prayer services at Our Lady of Lourdes. Words of encouragement from politicians and clergy. American flags flying everywhere. The delay of the NFL schedule and the first Monday Night Football game afterwards, where Chris Gizzi, an Air Force Academy graduate and linebacker for the Green Bay Packers proudly carried the American flag across Lambeau Field, leading his team out of the tunnel.
American lives changed a lot that day. And though my memories of the actual day are not good ones, it seems that everything I remember of the days, weeks, months and even years that follow, are good memories. Evidence of the American spirit and our will to persevere are everywhere.
My American flag flies proudly over the Crevier house here in De Pere, WI today, the 10th anniversary, as our small symbol of patriotism and togetherness. We will not forget.