It reminded me of September 11, 2001 as the event at the United States Capitol unfolded on the computer screen before my eyes last Wednesday. I thought of that day and remembered, for some odd reason, that WLBT television news anchor Maggie Wade was at the Capitol on 9/11 to receive a humanitarian award I think. Wednesday I wondered, in wonder, where she was whisked away to on that fateful day.
I remembered sitting in my office in 2001 when Suzanne Willis, a life long friend who lived in Clinton at the time, called and told me to turn on the television. I remembered seeing one of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center and I remembered the chaos in the streets of Washington that day.
It was just a little black and white television I was watching that I had gotten from the A&P when I worked there in the 1970s. It had tinfoil on the antenna and usually a fuzzy screen but it got me through college, and it got me through 9/11.
It seems a bit strange that the two events — the siege on the Capitol and the attack on the United States — would come together as one in my mind, but they did. They did, and they both kind of made me feel the same way.
How could this be happening in America? How could this possibly be happening in America? I’m pretty sure that’s what I whispered to myself in 2001 and I know it’s what I whispered to myself in front of a 26-inch computer monitor with a very clear screen last Wednesday.
It was like a high-power magnet drawing me in. It was hypnotizing, mesmerizing, confusing, all kinds of adjectives that just wouldn’t allow me to turn away. Almost 20 years separate the two events. Twenty years, and terrorist were again attacking this nation.
But this time, this time they came from within.
Suzanne didn’t call me last week, but she did send me a text with a memorable quote from our youth that ended with I’ve seen it all.......! I suppose we all thought we had seen it all this past year. I suppose we were wrong.
I’ve still got that little black and white television. It still has the double-sided tape marks on the top from college days where one of those old fashioned (now) cable television receiver boxes was attached. The antenna is still secured with gray duct tape, but the tinfoil is gone, and the two screws on the back are open and waiting for one of those little adapter things that allows one to go from antenna television to “cable tv” in a flash.
Traumatic events trigger strange memories, and that my friends, is for certain.
I remember in 1979 when I turned 18 it was the last year men were required to register for the draft and I went to the historic old Post Office in downtown Newton to pick up my registration card.
I remember thinking how lucky my generation was to have been born too late to have to fight in Vietnam and thinking there would probably never be another war in our lifetime. Wishful thinking I suppose.
It seems like there has been nothing but war since 2001 and more recently it seems like we are in an all out war between ourselves.
This week I’m beginning to believe we’ll never see it all. There will be one thing after the next, and another thing after that. The events may occur all in one year, a couple of days apart, or decades upon decades may pass between them, but we’ll never have seen it all.
Twenty years from now, if we’re still alive, we’ll remember where we were and what we were doing on January 6, 2021 when American terrorists launched their attack on America, and we’ll probably think to ourselves that was the day we thought we had seen it all!
Let’s hope and pray that it was!