Another dazzling cloudless September Tuesday morning on the East Coast. Mornings like this in Washington make it easy to remember the shock of Sept. 11, 2001. But it’s also another year off the calendar, another 12 months toward a time when the phrase “9/11” generates the same muted reaction as does “Pearl Harbor” or “JFK in Dallas” — a familiar sadness, a historical curiosity, rather than intense horror.
This is normal; time brings emotional distance and some measure of healing to even the cruelest pain; but there is also a certain forgetfulness that makes me sad. The anniversary snuck up on me; I did not remember it until I glanced at the date at the top of my morning Washington Post. The front page bears only a small footnote about the anniversary; its annual coverage now is on the inside news pages, perhaps not to reemerge on page 1 until the 20th or 25th anniversary.
For the families of people killed or hurt in those plane crashes in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, such emotional distance may never come.
At Radio World we remember that morning like the rest of our nation; we particularly remember the sound of American Airlines Flight 77 passing near our office building as it approached the Pentagon, the column of smoke visible from our roof, the fire trucks and ambulances racing down Columbia Pike and our co-workers hearing rumors of further attacks in Washington, and rushing home to be make sure their families were safe.
I am thinking of the innocent victims today as I start another work day under a brilliantly blue September sky. As I reflect on the authors of the attacks, I also marvel once again that humans could harbor such naked hatred, such willingness to bring harm to others.
Never is a long time; but for the sake of the families of the victims, including the six broadcast professionals who died at the World Trade Center that day, I hope we will long remember.