Toronto’s 680 News has a somewhat staccato, somewhat robotic approach to the news. Everything in its place and a tone to set your clock by on the hour and half hour. So when the top of the hour comes and someone keeps talking, you know they’ve suspended the format in order to follow a major, breaking story. It must be something big.
I was arriving for work at 10:00 AM, and running three minutes late. Technically, I should never hear the tone, I should already be out of my car. But this time, I realized that they were following something that had happened in New York involving a passenger airplane flying into the World Trade Center.
No, that can’t be right.
I couldn’t wrap my head around what they were saying.
I ran into work and turned on a radio there. Two planes. Reporters saying, “This was not an accident; this was a deliberate act.”
I kept listening trying to fathom what was taking place, and wishing I had access to a television.
Then, something about the towers falling down.
Those are big buildings. They don’t just fall down.
I phoned my wife at home. “Turn on the television right away.”
“What channel?” she asked.
“Doesn’t matter, you’ll know.” I then hung up…
…I’m told that one newspaper chose the headline, “When War Came to America.”
Yeah, that’s it. The war landed on America’s doorstep instead of being fought on some foreign soil somewhere else.
I tried to find the image for that newspaper on several occasions. I now know that it belonged to The Times of London, but in this collection of front page images, they show a page wrapper that was published instead. In another collection, you see The Daily Star asking, “Is This the End of the World?”
For 72 hours, America sat stunned. George Bush, who you will remember was reading a children’s story in a classroom when notified of the attack, realized the consumer economy of the U.S. had ground to a halt and told people to go out to the mall.
Ironically, September 11th ushered in age of domestic terrorism and mass killings to the point that for many, the mall or the theater or even the church is the last place you want to be. I’m sure that this type of fear grips many, who simply prefer to stay in their own suburban cocoon. But recent history teaches us that suburbia is no safer than Main Street.
Maybe The Daily Star had it right.
In the days following 9/11 we kept our little Christian bookstore open, despite a dearth of customers. I wanted to be there — albeit deprived of television — for anyone who had a need.
On the third day after the attack, a motorcycle pulled up out front and a huge dude dressed head-to-toe in black leather got off the bike and headed for the door.
He’s going to kill me, I thought.
Instead he said, “I need a book. My teenage daughter is devastated by what’s happened, and I need something that will give her faith and hope.”
Many of those books would be written in the wake of the World Trade/Pentagon/Pennsylvania hijackings, but I know that day I struggled for something that reflected the magnitude of what we’d just experienced…
…The day that war came to America.
→→ What happened that day? Follow President Bush in the hours immediately following the attack in this newly released compilation of memories from Air Force One.