I was still a public radio journalist the morning of September 11, 2001. I had a doctor's appointment that morning, and so was going to be late coming into work. But while sitting in the office, and listening to the nurses huddled around a television, I heard one of them say, "The towers are collapsing!" And that's when I went to the desk, canceled my appointment, and called my supervisor to find out where I should go. Instructions: head to the state's Emergency Management Office.
There, me and all the media corps based in Florida's capital city watched over and over and over the images of planes flying into the WTC, fires, ashes, panic, grief. And we were all still. We did our jobs of finding out if there was any threat to our state and its many landmarks; to our Governor, brother of the then-President; to our then-President who had been in our state that day. But mostly, we all felt the connection to our people, our families, our friends... and to all those who were killed in an act of aggression. For a day, the members of the media were not simply observers. We all felt this attack deeply.
Each of us has responded in our own way to what happened that day. In the days and weeks afterward, there were forums in cities including Tallahassee, organized by religious leaders to bring about dialogue amongst the Abrahamic faith traditions. This was an opportunity for those who knew next to nothing about Islam to hear from those who do NOT advocate for killing all Americans. But against this backdrop of discussion, there was the rising tide of unbridled nationalism and patriotism and accusations that if you did not support going to war against Iraq, you were a soft-bellied anti-American. Our media, as I said, had also felt this attack, and voices of dissent were not allowed the same amount of face-time, air-time, print-time as those who were beating the drum of war. Yes, even on National Public Radio, the supposedly left-leaning network on the "left" end of the dial... seemed to want to "over-correct" for any perceived bias.
On this day, I remember the moment where everything seemed to come to a halt. And I ask God to remember us.
Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad;
let those who love your salvation continually say,
"Great is the Lord!"
Though I am poor and afflicted,
the Lord will have regard for me.
You are my helper and my deliverer;
do not tarry, O my God.
Ps. 40: 17-19