Calamity goes beyond words, pictures

  • Mark Briggs / All Things Media
  • Monday, September 10, 2001 9:00pm
  • Local News

I want to hug my son.

How this begins to offer summation of the dramatic and shocking events of today, I have no idea. My boy is 13 months old, lives with my wife and I here in Everett and has no idea what happened today. But if you want to know how I feel after watching video footage of the World Trade Center collapsing and reading virtually all of the news reports on the wire this morning, this is all I can offer.

I want to hug my son.

Working as editor of HeraldNet, The Herald’s Web site, affords me the great tool of the Internet to inform the public quickly about such remarkable news events. When the radio delivered a preliminary report on the plane crash at the World Trade Center this morning on my drive to work, I stepped on the gas a little, wanting to get to the office a little quicker to start what I knew would be an incredible day.

I arrived at 7:15 a.m. Our content producer Doug Parry was already here, having been awakened by his wife at home and told of the international calamity taking place. We knew there would be thousands of people thirsting for information on this horrific day. The number of visitors to our site today is roughly 10 times normal.

But how do you accurately explain the events of today? News reports can attempt to explain what happened, but explaining how it happened and why it happened will take some time.

My best friend couldn’t shed any light, and he watched it happen. He lives in Hoboken, N.J., directly across the river from Manhattan. I talked to him on his cell phone later in the morning. After reports of the first crash came across his radio, he climbed out onto his patio to see the smoke billowing from the top portion of the 110-story building. Then he saw a commercial airliner flying too low, too close to the other World Trade Center tower. The Boeing jumbo jet rammed one of the world’s tallest buildings and my best friend couldn’t find the words to describe the scene, even hours after it had occurred.

What he saw next was even harder to explain: bodies falling 100 stories from a smoking, burning World Trade Center. “They looked like cardboard, waving in the wind,” he said.

His neighbors work at the World Trade Center. He heard them leave for work this morning, but they hadn’t returned by the time he drove to north New Jersey later in the morning.

Rumors of biological weapons combined with the gigantic plume of smoke and dust that engulfed Lower Manhattan led him to exit the area. It’s hard to believe this catastrophe could have been worse, but if biological weapons had been included on those planes, it would have been dramatically worse.

Our lives are changed today. The country we live in will never be the same. War has been declared on us, and we don’t know who did it or where they live. Pearl Harbor has been mentioned numerous times today, but at least in 1941 we knew who picked the fight and where we could find them. Today, we don’t.

That makes us mad, downright pissed off. Especially since innocent lives have been lost in the name of terrorism and politics. That has a way of making the blood boil.

It also makes us a little scared. Which, I guess, is why I want to hug my son.

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