From the Editor-in-Chief:
September 11, 2001
From the Graphics Editor:
The Night Of The Terrible Tragedy
From the Editor-in-Chief:
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
Everyone has their story of where they were, what they were doing, and the surrounding circumstances of September 11, 2001. I live in California, thousands of miles away from Ground Zero. One would think that would offer some insulation. Normally it would, but we have these communication media known as television, telephones, and the Internet that conspire to make physical distance irrelevant.
The first jet hit the World Trade Center tower a couple of minutes after 5:45am Pacific Time. I had gotten up at 5:30am, an hour earlier than my usual practice, in order to get some chores done. I was in the bathroom when I heard the phone ring. It must have been around 5:55am-ish. It was my mother-in-law. She said that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Her daughter, my husband's sister, worked near the WTC, and she could not find her number. She wanted us to give it to her so she could call her. My mother-in-law lives in Michigan, a three day drive from where we live. While my husband spoke with her, I turned on the TV and there it was: a WTC tower aflame. I watched it and thought that it was surreal. How could a plane crash into the WTC? Must have been an accident. How horrible. And then, something beyond surreal happened. As I was watching the live shot of the burning WTC, another plane flew by and slammed into the other tower!
We live in a very different world than any other time in history. We have the technology to share the human experience around the world in real time. I did not experience the second crash through replay, I experienced it as it happened, although I was 3000 miles and three time zones away from Ground Zero. I could have been 3 miles and no time zones away, or 6000 miles and 9 time zones away, or anything closer, between, or farther, and it would not have made any difference. I experienced the second plane crash in real time and all I could do was look in passive horror as these very real events happened before my eyes. How did I get to this place? Through an intermediary in Michigan of all places. Think about it. (1) Event A happens in NYC. (2) Person A over a thousand miles away from NYC finds out about Event A on TV within 10 minutes of it happening. (3) Person B, who is thousand of miles further away not to mention a few time zones, is called by Person A within minutes of the TV announcement. (4) Person B turns on TV and experiences Event B in real time with a whole lot of other people. Within 7 minutes of the first crash, literally the whole world, or at least those with CNN access, had the possibility of experiencing what it was like to be at Ground Zero in NYC on September 11, 2001 at 8:52am Eastern Time and thereafter. I find that to be amazing.
The benefits of this type of immediate communication and experience is too great to even attempt to quantify, but it nonetheless comes at a great price. When you experience catastrophic events "real time" even through a medium, you have to expect shock and for your psyche to process the information as if you were actually there watching the events. Of course, it was way worse to have experienced Ground Zero at Ground Zero, and their stories and memories attest to that, but for the billion plus who watched helpless as they witnessed carnage and destruction of people whose only thought for that day was basically to go to work so that they could pay some bills and feed their families, was devastating. You can see the effect worldwide. Almost every country on earth had citizens who reacted to the disaster in a personal way. This personal approach was abetted and further amplified by the media that allow this planet to be "wired".
At first, my family had difficulties locating my sister-in-law and I had some set-backs in locating some of my friends in NYC. I tried phoning and the phones were out. Eventually my sister-in-law did check in, to find out she was in the neighborhood but was running late and by the time she got to her destination, they were already evacuating, so she was able to leave the area unharmed. As to my other friends, I went on-line. It turns out that the cell-phones and long distance services were either knocked out or overstressed, but local calls appeared to be okay. And you know what a local call means...it means you can jump on the Internet. That is what I did and I found 99% of my NYC friends on-line and giving minute by minute accounts of what it was like to be so close to Ground Zero.
This most serious attack on US mainland soil in over a 180 year period was not just an explosion heard around the world, but one that was seen and experienced real time as well. Specifically how this will affect our relations with other countries and how we go about out worldwide business as individual citizens and as the collective members of a nation-state, I do not know. But I do know it will most likely radically change how we interact. I hope for the better. In some ways, it already has.
Kym Masera Taborn
September 26, 2001
From the Graphics Editor:
THE NIGHT OF THE TERRIBLE TRAGEDY
It had been a great week in Auckland. I saw things old and new, caught up with old friends and made new ones, was very fortunate to catch a spate of fine weather (especially while horseback riding and camping) and gained a few unneeded pounds from eating some of the best food ever consumed and drinking some of the best Merlot New Zealand produces. It was fun to see that JACK OF ALL TRADES and CLEOPATRA 2525 were still being shown on NZ TV. I saw Pacific Renaissance Pictures alumni Kevin Smith and Danielle Cormack in a fine performance of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE live at the Maidment (twice). I saw several other PacRen alum live and on various local shows as well. It was too easy to adjust to PPT (Pacific Party Time) and get into the habit of rolling into my hotel bed at 5AM, sleep until noon, then get up and start all over again.
Very late on the night of 11 September was no exception (keep in mind that, time zones taken into consideration, New Zealand is a day ahead of most of the world). I had been out very late with a friend. We had met on my previous visit to Auckland, were delighted to have run into each other again, and made up for lost time. We had a wonderful dinner, saw a fine show, went out to a fabulous club, and I didn't get back to my hotel until very early in the morning of the 12th. And I still had another full day before having to return to Los Angeles. It was truly the best of times.
Until I got a phone call from the States.
"The World Trade Centre Towers are gone!"
I had only been asleep for an hour and it took me awhile to put the words together so they made sense. Surely I had heard wrongly or there was some error -- perhaps a fire and smoke obscured the view, but gone? Impossible.
"Do you get CNN?" the voice asked me.
"Yep," I managed a verbal response.
"Turn it on and call me later."
The outside light of dawn filtered through the drapes just enough for me to locate the TV remote and I did indeed tune in CNN. It took a moment to focus but the images became all too clear, all too quickly. Again and again, from different angles, I saw the planes slam into the WTC Towers, the fires, and then the collapse. Reports came in that the Pentagon was hit, and another plane was down in Pennsylvania. CNN showed the numbers of the hijacked flights and it was very unnerving to see that one of those was a flight I used to take quite regularly when I lived in Boston and flew to Los Angeles about once a month for my company.
As reports continued to come in, the full measure of the terrorist attack became apparent. Not only were thousands missing, but hundreds of firemen and dozens of police officers and many other support personnel were killed or missing. The attack itself was bad enough, but the additional tragedy of those people whose job it was to assist who rushed in only to be killed for their trouble doubled the catastrophe.
Although New York and Washington and Pennsylvania were half a world away, the news dominated Auckland for days afterwards. The 12 September edition of The New Zealand Herald proclaimed America was under attack, and in the next couple of days no less than eight "extra" editions of the paper kept up with the latest developments.
United Airlines called me to say it would be at least a week beyond my original departure date before I could return to Los Angeles, so I determined to make the best of the situation. There are a couple of pubs that I frequent when in Auckland, and although my visits can have gaps of several months, many of the people there know me and know I am American. I couldn't buy a drink after the incident -- people kept doing that for me and expressed total sympathy for America and the people who were victims of the attack. It was touching to see such support. Quite often when I travel this is not the case. Many times people from other nations are critical of America or the "Ugly American" does not help the cause. But New Zealand has always been more pro America than con, and I haven't seen too many badly behaved American tourists here. Often I am mistaken for Canadian because "you're so polite."
The Prime Minister of New Zealand said that New Zealand Special Forces personnel could be made available should the US require such services. Australia deployed some troops on US ships. This part of the world was as ready to declare war on terrorism as the USA was. After all, even though it was America that was attacked, nearly two hundred Kiwis and Aussies were dead or missing as well.
Some people were concerned that the incident would spark a world war and they were quite frightened at the prospect. I honestly didn't get that feeling myself and although far from home continued to keep up with CNN and called friends and relatives in the States. I knew people in New York and Washington and everyone checked in OK. People seemed shocked and definitely wanted revenge, but I didn't get a sense that it was misdirected or wild. Personally, I hope that any retaliation for the terrorist attack is as carefully and deliberately planned as the attack itself, minus the loss of innocent life, of course.
Perhaps the most moving things I experienced while here have been the spontaneous memorials and gatherings in sympathy of the victims. As but one example, I attended my very first live rugby game the other day and before the game started two minutes of silence were requested in respect for victims of the attack. You could hear a pin drop in a stadium filled with thousands of people. In an even more powerful reminder, there is an area I have to pass every time I walk from my hotel to downtown called Aotea Centre, adjacent to the Town Hall. The day after the attack, at the top of some steps in a quiet area of the square, a few bunches of flowers appeared. The next day, there were more. Then a day later, still more. Now there is a veritable mountain of flowers and a weatherworn paper expressing sympathy to the victims and thanks to America for always having been a friend to New Zealand.
Would that we all carry such thoughts in our hearts, everywhere.
Auckland, New Zealand
21 September 2001