I wasn't going to do a post-9/11 post, but someone on a mailing list wrote something that shook me to the core, and I just had to work out some thoughts (albeit a day late). An expansion of my reply:
My experience pales to most people, but I do remember the utter disorientation that everyone at school seemed to exhibit...everyone was walking around like a zombie. I was sitting in my office doing some grading, and one of my colleagues kept wandering the hallways, listening to a portable radio. When I finally asked him what the hell he was doing, I didn't believe his response at first.
I went down to my department's conference room, where there was a tv set up. A number of people had gathered to watch the coverage...by that time, the second tower had already fallen...but no one was really saying anything. I stayed for an hour or so, and then went to my only class of the day. The teacher there had the tv on, and likewise, everyone was just staring, silent. I stayed for about 30 minutes before heading home. I didn't break out my cd player for the walk as I normally would...somehow, I just really needed to hear some quiet.
I got home and watched coverage for a few hours before my mind snapped, and I just couldn't take it anymore. However, nothing else was on. Even Food Network has suspended their coverage, which I understand, but it was a shame...I really needed a diversion at that point.
That night, the spousal unit and an old roomate and I went to BW3s for wing night. We were sitting on the deck, right across the street from a gas station, and it seemed that every 15 minutes, someone from the gas station would come out and raise the prices on the sign. Afterward, we went to Howards (the ultimate BG bar), and we got to see the President-appointee's "I've finally finished reading kid stories and am now ready to pretend to be a leader" speech to the nation, where he begged us, the nation, to show unity by going (wait for it) shopping.
It's a shame those are my two most vivid memories of that day. But it was obvious by them that something in the world (and particularly in the US) had changed for the worse. I was never one of those "capitalism is evil" types, but I became much more cynical about government and authority after trying to juxtapose the gas gouging and the presidential pleas to shop. I still think that 9/11 is the day that W became unglued, and our country and the world has suffered the wrath of a government becoming more egotistical, more evil, and less empathetic ever since.
On the plus side, the actual people of the country drew together in a way that gave me hope. Locally, our Muslim community started to pre-emptively reach out to the area and become more open. The population showed the enormous courage, unity, charity, and grace that those in power so clearly showed they lack.
(Actually, come to think of it, the Katrina aftermath was pretty much the same thing.)
I want to be hopeful here. I want to believe that the people of this country will work not only for their own best interests but for the best interests of us all, even when the government is clearly wrong. However, many good people still actively support a very bad government, one that's making us all look bad and get our souls messy. Please, America, we have a chance to finally do right by each other. Do the right thing.