Wednesday, September 11, 2002

It Wasn't a Joke

To commemorate the first anniversary of September 11, 2001, Cloudjammer's principals each relate, in their own way, where they were and what they felt that morning.

I had been in New York three weeks before September 11th visiting friends and site seeing. We had gone to the tops of as many sky scrapers as we could and, sure enough, on our last day went to the World Trade Center. I was so excited to be on top of the free world. You could see 45 miles in each direction. The sky was bright blue and clear. I was with my good friends Bryan and Jason. We thought we were on the most indestructible piece of architecture in the world. Little did we know what would happen.

I woke up from a restful sleep and was ready to attack a beautiful day. I was off to work with no traffic yet an awkward feeling was rumbling in my stomach. I entered work at Earthlink, the second largest ISP in the nation, and found the calling center in a bewildering silence. Usually the call center is full of laughs and talking people ready to catch the next customer. But for some reason the calls were few and far between. Around 9:00 the technical age halted.

I came in to the office and started up my computer. I usually check CNN or the Atlanta Journal Constitution to see what went on the day before, but to my surprise I was not able to get to these sites or any other up to date news site. I was puzzled… I then asked my good friend Gill what was going on. He asked if I had heard that a plane had just flown into the World Trade Center. I had no idea. I franticly searched for a website and even kept taking calls to see if anyone customers knew of the incident. I thought Gill was kidding and went on with my daily grind. Gill always jokes around and, being as gullible as I can be sometimes, I thought that he was trying to trick me. He came back and told me again to stop working and come check out the news report that he had gotten from BBC news. This was one of the few sites that was still accessible. I was astonished, scared and, sad. I didn't know what to feel. Eventually the floor manager rolled in a 56 inch TV that barely could get reception. Sure enough, someone had captured the most gruesome footage I have ever seen — we thought we were watching a trailer to a new Hollywood movie. We were watching live footage of the worst act on American soil since Pearl Harbor.

The report on TV, September 11, 2001, will never be erased form my mind. I called a couple of friends over to watch and just be together. We just sat quiet and confused. The web of American life, and life as we knew it, had been hit and taken advantage of. I wanted to find out how this could happen and why. I remember the whole city of Atlanta seemed to shut down. People were frantic – buying as much food as they could stock up on , assuming the worst as if a snow storm was coming to cover Atlanta’s streets for weeks.

Our little utopia had been stuck hard. Yet, within those moments of inhumanity, humanity reigned and people of all nationalities came together and helped each other get though the devastation.

I called my grandfather, a Navy veteran of World War II, and asked his opinion of such a thing. All he could say was to get ready, be fit, and learn all you can. I took that advice remembering that war America had won. I was confident we would win this war, too.

It has been a year, now. My grandfather has passed away and the strong castle of our country has done everything it could to hold on to every value and belief that we have while living under the threat of something that may come and try to hurt our outer walls.

I am writing this article to share my thoughts on the confusion, the peace, the war, and the love I I have for this country. I have traveled all over the world and have seen the happy, the sick, the depressed, the war torn, and the stable. As a small community we can uphold our values and beliefs. As a county, filled with many communities large and small believing in one country under God, we will defeat anything that comes our way and threatens those beliefs. My father said that with every punch from a bully makes you stronger. You learn from your mistakes and you move on to out smart your antagonists.

The United Sates is a young county with ancient ideas. We are finally able to have a government that respects it people the best way it can while still up holding its values and beliefs. Terrorism will not beat us. We have fought too long and too hard to become a country that welcomes all races, religions and nationalities. fb

Whatever Tomorrow Brings

To commemorate the first anniversary of September 11, 2001, Cloudjammer's principals each relate, in their own way, where they were and what they felt that morning.

I got to work that morning an hour before any of my coworkers. On my drive into the city, I listened to the new Incubus CD, specifically their single Drive. In retrospect, I've found the stanza ironic:
Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
with open arms and open eyes.
I had my usual morning routine: respond to email, surf the web, check the news. At 8:30, the lead story on was something unmemorable – a missing intern, a comment by the Fed chairman, a critique of Powell's invisibility in the cabinet. I checked back two or three times before my coworkers started dragging in for our 9:00am staff meeting. I remember how, at about a quarter until 9, CNN's site wouldn't load.

Our office manager had just returned from London and one of the designers was preparing for an overseas flight later in the month. We joked about the incidence of plane crashes — we believed they always happened in threes. It had been a long while since a plane crash.

A freelance designer came in and stood in the hallway about ten yards away from our meeting area. He had a radio pressed against his ear but said nothing. One of the account managers came in late and told us that two planes had been in an accident at the World Trade Center. Must have been a Cessna or some other small plane.

All I remember about the meeting itself was that it was interrupted twice. The boss' cell phone rang the first time at about 9:15. It was his mother in Pittsburgh calling about the second plane crash at New York. She didn't have any details. She called again at 9:45. A plane had hit the Pentagon. We didn't need any details.

We scrambled to find a working TV. I ran back to the stereo system and got the radio on. The freelancer told me to put it on Star94.

Over the office stereo we heard frantic talk and a chilling statement: "The top of the tower just collapsed." It didn't make any sense.

We got a small TV working in the main conference room. I ran in and saw one tower standing amidst a fog of dust.

Just a minute ago I was laughing in the staff meeting. Just a minute ago I was shooting the breeze on another lazy workday morning. Where the hell did this come from? What the hell was going on?

We all just stood there and watched. By the time the other tower collapsed some people were crying, some numb. All the while our cell-phones rang. My girlfriend, Ann, had heard nothing of the attack on her car — NPR didn't carry the story. One of her coworkers was getting calls from friends in the military about missing planes. By the time the last plane crashed in Shanksville we were certain every city was under attack.

I called my father just before he was forced to evacuate the Inforum. I called a friend we were supposed to meet for lunch. I called Ann every ten minutes just to do something.

We rigged the projector and TV together, casting the news coverage five feet tall at the end of the conference room. Horrific. By lunch I couldn't take it any more. My family was home. I wanted to be there, too.

On the way home I listened to the same CD. I listened to radio coverage. All the way to Sandy Springs I drove under the same traffic alert sign. It's the most memorable image I have of Atlanta, that day. In yellow electric letters, every sign read the same: "National Emergency - ATL airport closed." Flags were hung over the Glenridge overpass.

I watched the news all evening with my small family. My grandfather, stricken by a stroke and limited in speech, just shook his head. Ann and I, both history majors, tried to absorb everything. This was our Pearl Harbor. The defining moment of our time.

That night, back at our apartment, we both talked about enlistment. We'd just closed on a house and were trying to start Cloudjammer, but that seemed so much less important , now. Everything did. We just wanted revenge — to kill every single person whose hand had guided this terror. fb

I Want Today to Have Never Begun

To commemorate the first anniversary of September 11, 2001, Cloudjammer's principals each relate, in their own way, where they were and what they felt that morning.

Driving sleepy, barely awake
Wondering already when today would end
Radio crash accident poor people
How could this be?
Please God take care of them

Listening awake sorrow
Again crash two?
How could this be?
It could not be!
Something wrong

Anger bastards
Another crash pentagon
Oh God not again
How many more?

Plane fell from the sky
At least there are a few.

Planes landing
Plane missing
Fighters shoot it down
What am I saying?
Not real
What is?

Confusion anger sorrow terror
I am scared
I am too angry to be scared
Must be strong

Death toll rises
As buildings fade
So angry
So very angry
Blood spilt and blood spilt again

I now think things
I have never thought before
I just want today to end

No, I want today
To have never begun.

- Patrick Greer, September 11, 2001 fb