United We Stand

I noticed this morning on my way to drop off my daughter at daycare that many of the Capital Metro buses are displaying “United We Stand” in addition to their route numbers/names. It’s a nice sentiment, but I feel like it’s much less true than it was in the weeks following the attacks.

Five years ago, I was dropping off my son at the very same daycare. My daughter wasn’t born yet. I was flipping between different radio stations and began hearing reports of a plane hitting the World Trade Center. It was early enough that no one was sure what was going on. There was speculation that it may have been an accident. Howard Stern was still on the air here that morning. I hopped between KUT, the Stern show and KLBJ. By the time I arrived at work, it was clear that it was no accident. I still work at the same tech company. We’d already had a round of layoffs that May. Since we’d chosen to target the airline industry as one of our primary areas of potential business, the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks had a pronounced effect on our business. Another round of layoffs followed roughly a month after 9/11. I managed to avoid the axe once again that October.

I remember a lot of things about that day. I remember having trouble getting cnn.com. I remember trading e-mails with my aunt and uncle as soon as I got to my office (a check to my archives shows the first one at 9:08AM). My aunt worked near the UN at the time. I got responses back from both of them fairly quickly. Phones were a hopeless endeavor. I still had quite a few friends in Manhattan at the time, since I lived there for a few years in the mid-90’s and both of my parents are from NYC. In fact, my mother has the misfortune of sharing a birthday with that infamous day. I count at least two other e-mail responses from friends within that first hour at work.

I got a call from the daycare around 9:30 or 10AM, telling me they were shutting down because of rumors that there was still a plane unaccounted for and that it may be headed for the Capitol building downtown. I viewed this as ridiculous hysteria at the time and still do, an example of what such events can cause even in the minds of generally reasonable people. Since my wife worked nights at the time and was still asleep, it fell on me to go get The Boy. Eventually, I went home early and watched cable news for most of the afternoon with my wife and a friend. I hadn’t started blogging yet in any organized way, that would happen in January of the following year. In fact, my second post was to link an article about 9/11 on the New York Times site.

Five years ago, ABIA had been open for a little over two years. It had been designed with most of the food vendors inside the security area. Security changes after 9/11 meant that only ticketed passengers could visit the Salt Lick, Amy’s and Matt’s El Rancho, much to the vendor’s dismay, I’m sure. Today, there a few more options outside of security, but there isn’t much. It’s just one way that 9/11 permanently changed Austin as it did many other places around the country and the world.

KUT ran snippets of interviews with Austinites about their feelings on this five year anniversary this morning. One guy mentioned the benefit being a greater global awareness. I’d have to agree with him. I’d say I’ve become much more politically and globally aware since 9/11. I’ve watched in dismay over the last five years as the current administration in Washington has used the event as a bludgeon to pound the American people into submission in alarmingly Orwellian ways. I’ve had friends harassed by both the federal government and anonymous cowards just because of their nationality or color of their skin. Just this past weekend, a friend had his car vandalized downtown. The jerkoff left a note, mispelled, of course, leaving no doubt as to the reason for the damage. “United We Stand” indeed.

Read more 9/11 reflections at the NYC Metblog, the DC Metblog and around the Metroblogging network of cities.

2 Comments so far

  1. Matt (unregistered) on September 11th, 2006 @ 3:30 pm

    Austin Bloggers censors their content, I am surprised they have allowed your post in regards to September 11th. I was kicked off of their site for such content, strange but true. Please be wary of their practices.

  2. ttrentham (unregistered) on September 11th, 2006 @ 4:15 pm

    I saw your post this morning and then your follow-up after the first one was removed.

    I think if you look objectively at your post and mine, you’ll see that I made an effort to tie the 9/11 theme with some local Austin elements in several places while your post reviewed 9/11 Memorial program (good stuff, btw, I saw it when it first aired) and didn’t mention Austin at all.

    From the Austin Bloggers site:

    What can I post here?

    Post only your blog entries that are about Austin, or in which Austin plays a significant role. This includes: places, people, events, culture, politics. This is not a web site for Austin-area bloggers to post all their entries.

    Metroblogging has similar posting rules to Austin Bloggers in that the posts should relate to the city in some way. If I’d decided to do a post like yours, I’d have put it on my personal blog and wouldn’t have pinged Austin Bloggers.

    I agree that 9/11 affected us all and there’s always some grey areas, but I’d probably have done the same thing as the Austin Bloggers admin. You can call it censoring, but your originals remain under your own control and fully available (I linked them). It’s really just maintaining the focus of the aggregate site.

    Hope that helps.

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