11 September 2009

Remembering good days, and a tragic one

I'm off from work today. The client told me and my fellow temp proofreaders yesterday afternoon that they would not have any work for us this day, but should as early as Saturday. I will be unavailable for work tomorrow (due to the IPMS Gateway Invitational; more on that later), but may come in Sunday. We'll see. It's going well, with us trying to catch errors in the documents, after the group specific information has been dropped in.
Last weekend (Labor Day holiday) was a good one. Friday night, I went to a Mehlville-Oakville alumni party prior to the football game between those two high schools, hosted (and won) by Oakville. It was interesting to see some people who also went to my high school, although at different times to mine, and to watch a football game in person, which I have not done in 10 years.
Sunday morning, I ran line on two men's amateur soccer games, the first I had worked since mid-August. They went fine, despite wet field conditions (due to rain), and the men working the middle in both games passed their assessments. (The assessors also liked my work in these games.) I was a little sore in my legs from the workout, but was pleased.
Monday, I started off at the Greek Festival at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis' Central West End neighborhood. It's the largest such festival in the country, with food, music, dancing, and crafts. I had lunch there and saw a bit of Greek dancing. Very nice. Then, I went to the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis for their annual Japanese Festival. That had music, crafts, food, judo demonstrations, and the setting of the Japanese Garden at the MBG. It was fun to take in the festival, and to admire the variety of plants the MBG had on display.
Tomorrow's the IPMS Gateway to the West Invitational model contest and swap meet at Hitters' Choice Cages in Eureka, Missouri. The Get Out section of today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch has our show mentioned about special events of this weekend, which makes me happy. We're also posted online at stltoday.com, riverfronttimes.com, toastedrav.com, kwmu.org, and kmov.com. Hope to see you at the show. For more info, visit
Today marks the 8th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. I was living in Dallas then, working as editor at Squadron/Signal Publications in nearby Carrollton. Just before 8:00 am (Central Time), I left my apartment in north Dallas to drive to the office. On the way, I headed to the Carrollton post office to drop off some mail. While on the road to the post office, I had been listening to a music station and turned to a news radio station, WBAP, to get the hourly news bulletin. The announcer mentioned that they would have ABC network news in a minute with an update on a plane crash into one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. My first thought was that a small plane had somehow it the building.
I was in the drive through lane at the post office when the network news came on. The lead story was about the crash that occurred a few minutes earlier. The anchor then handed off to a reporter on the scene with a live report. The reporter mentioned the first crash and the resulting scenes of panic, with fire fighters and police racing to the World Trade Center, when he suddenly said "Oh my God!", or words to that effect, when the second plane hit the other tower. I didn't quite know what to think at that moment, as a pulled out from the post office and headed to Squadron/Signal, but something major and unprecedented had happened.
Arriving at Squadron/Signal a couple of minutes later on that warm, sunny morning in Carrollton, I heard on the radio the first reports that these crashes were an act of terrorism, and that President George W. Bush was notified while visiting a school in Sarasota, Florida. I came into the building and walked over to my office, which was then located on the far side from the main entrance, and a few of my colleagues and supervisors were already there and had heard about the attacks. A TV set was brought into the art department, a few steps from my office, and the set was turned on to one of the network stations, and for the first time I saw the video of smoke pouring from large caps torn into the sides of the World Trade Center towers. My immediate supervisor, Glen Phillips, was with us watching all this. He was a US Air Force veteran, who had served in Air Force Intelligence and was familiar with the Middle East. Phillips said "This has Osama bin Laden written all over it." This was before I heard anyone on TV or radio mention the group or groups responsible for this attack.
The news got worse over the next few minutes. I heard the first statement from the President about the attack, as he then hurried to fly out of Sarasota to return (eventually) to Washington. There was the plane hitting the Pentagon, the report of the plane crashing in western Pennsylvania, and the God awful scene as both World Trade Center towers came crashing down. I had mentioned about the time I had visited the World Trade Center in 1996, and going up to the roof of the one tower. Chuck Harransky, one of my supervisors, said he had also visited to World Trade Center one time.
My colleagues and I tried our best to work that day, but it wasn't easy. I turned on a radio mounted on a shelf above my desk to get the latest news as it came in. I normally did not do so at work, but this day was different. As the news came in on the rapidly developing story, I thought of my brothers Rick and Brian, and Brian's wife Gretchen, who lived in Brooklyn at the time and worked in New York. I was wanting to call them and see if they were OK, but figured the lines would be full. Finally, I called my mother in St. Louis and she told me she had contacted Rick, Brian and Gretchen and they were all safe. Rick worked out of his apartment that day and saw the towers burn and collapse from through his window. Brian was well away from Ground Zero. Gretchen was working in Manhattan, well away from the World Trade Center, but had to walk home across the Brooklyn Bridge, with thousands of other people. I was glad to hear of that news, but still stunned by what happened.
I went home at the end of the work day to check on TV and the internet on the latest of what happened. I saw the rescue workers in New York and Washington going through the rubble to find possible survivors and the bodies of the fallen. I also thought of my friend Bob McSpadden, an airline pilot who lived with his wife Beth in Lake Dallas, Texas, north of Dallas. Beth told me Bob was fine, and not anywhere near the danger zone that day.
I eagerly followed the story and its aftermath in the days that followed. That Wednesday night, the day after the attack, I was on the officiating crew of a men's amateur soccer game in Carrollton. (This was a make up game for one cancelled due to field conditions earlier in that season.) Our crew and some of the players remarked about unusually how quiet the sky was, with the civilian aircraft grounded for a few days. (This field was within the outer traffic pattern of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.) The following Saturday, before the youth games I helped referee, there was a moment of silence in memory of the 9/11 victims.
That's my story from that tragic day eight years ago. I thank you for allowing me to indulge in this memory. Let's all take a moment and remember the victims of these attacks, and to recommit to bettering this world to present such an attack in the future.
(I've attached a photo taken of myself during my 1996 visit to the World Trade Center. I hope you like it.)

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