Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today marks the tenth anniversary of that terrible day.

And I suppose for history's sake I should set down my end of the whole catastrophe.

Hell, everyone else is....

As I recall, it was a beautiful mild day in East Cambridge where I was working running a mailroom for a big name software company that was truth be told, very much on the skids even before the coming recession.
I had a raving antisemite for an assistant and was working for a frankly piratical crew of office services contractors, but in those days, I had debts to pay.
I went down to the loading dock to pick up the day's mail, and everyone was gathered around the communal TV, the first tower was already burning.
I think until the second plane hit I was naive enough to believe that it was all a terrible aviation accident of some type. Well soon enough I and the rest of the Western World were disabused of that notion. Having no other thoughts at the moment, I actually brought the mail back upstairs where we sorted it all out and prepped it for distribution.
All the while we watched as clusters of the client company's employees kept slinking out the door.
So it goes without saying that when the Towers both disintegrated, we saw it on
By noon the building was deserted except for the aforementioned piratical crew who'd received no instructions to adjourn in the face of national catastrophe.
So as fatuous as it may sound, with death and terrorism and war threatening the Republic, rest assured the mail went out that day.
Eventually our Account Manager crept in and told us both to "haul ass".
I went home, East Cambridge was empty already rumors were rife of new terrorist attacks, weaponized viruses, bombs and hijackings.
And for the rest of the day, I watched the towers disintegrated over and over and over again.
If I retain one vivid impression from that clear mild morning a decade ago, is the sheer horror I felt derived from the thought "That all over the country, people are watching their loved ones die live on national television!"
Something about that aspect of it all would appall me, but then that is the core goal of all terrorism when it's practiced on this scale.
My other great impression of that time is the essential decency of the American People. When leader's fail and a vacuum is created, the nation itself steps into the gap, burying the dead, clearing the rubble, comforting the bereaved, compensating the surviving victims.
There would be an almost endless series of mistakes made by the country's leaders in the weeks and months and years after 9-11, but the citizenry's "will to democracy" remained unbroken. That is the wellspring of that aforementioned decency, a dictatorship could never survive such a public disaster.
A functioning democracy can survive famine, national catastrophe and humiliation, but even the best and most ruthless dictatorships typically fly to pieces given a hard enough shove.
Recall please, Chernobyl, which more than anything else was a huge rebuke to the myth of Soviet totalitarian super statism.
The best thing I can say about 9-11, is that the USA survived it, democracy survived it, the citizenry and their "will to democracy" survived it.
But then we are supposed to survive these things, to remember, take counsel and pass along that will to democracy to our progeny.
And just as a final personal note, I"ll just recall that the infamous Bad Poets Society went off on 9-14 2001 at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, we never had a bigger more appreciative crowd, the will to democracy indeed.

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