Editor’s note: After the September 11th attacks, I sent out a request in our eNewsletter. Here’s what it said:
"I haven’t been able to get away from the news for the past week, and I’m sure most of you feel the same way. Wherever you were, whatever you were doing, you’ll probably remember the specifics for a long time. But memories deteriorate.
While I often find myself begging (almost) for more contributions, this request is of a different nature. Please take a few minutes to reflect on the past week and write down your experiences. I want to know where you were, how you reacted, what you saw, what you didn’t see.
I want to know how this has affected people. I will try to find a way to share it with everyone; or no one, if you prefer."
What I received soon thereafter surprised me. I not only received more contributions than I expected, but I found myself coming to terms with things through the reactions of those who wrote back.
I encourage you to read each and every response, for they represent a fraction of what I received. Please remember that these are uncensored responses that might offend you. Read and digest. Perhaps it will help you too.
– Michael Browne, October 2001
People die willingly and unwilling in pursuit and defense of our country’s freedom. Things will change, but they will stay the same.
By Eric Szabo
Although I’m recording these memories at the request of my favorite bike magazine, I must confess I had just arrived at work after an early morning run with a few buds when i first heard the news.
The morning started like every other. Alarm clock ringing, announcing it’s time to rise. A quick run through my perfectly orchestrated pre-bike/run morning routine. Warm up the espresso machine while nuking a half pint of water (Dirt Rag Pint Glass), start the quadruple shot of Starbucks finest. One minute forty seconds later waters hot enough, shots complete, remove the water, mix the espresso, rinse the precision equipment, kiss my sleeping wife, pat the dog and dash for the trail head in hopes of not being the last one there.
The gang assembled right on time and in no particular hurry, started our morning run. The morning air was cool and the fields were damp with the night’s dew. The sun had just started to rise and warm the air with its bright orange glow. I remember thinking to myself, where did summer go? Every year about this time I start moping around, complaining to my wife how much I hate the short days. It’s always dark. Dark when I train, dark when I go to work, dark when I get home from work, dark, dark, dark.
Our run was like so many others. A little sweat, a little suffering and a whole lot of guy talk. What’s planned for the weekend, who’s dating who, work, bikes, all much of the same. Afterwards we all loaded into or onto our vehicles and headed off to work. I was riding my motorcycle, so no morning NPR for me. I pulled into the parking lot shortly after my friend Kevin. He met me half way to the door and told me what he’d just heard on the radio. A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center! What????
I immediately went to my office, turned on the radio and fired up my computer. A second plane has hit the second tower. Holy shit. I was able to connect with New York’s AP via the internet, but only for a few minutes. At this point I was glued to live coverage, unable to think about work, showering, anything. Everyone in the office was talking about the events. Radios and internet audio echoed from everyone’s offices and cubicles.
A third plane has crashed, a forth plane, others may be missing, thousands may be dead, the second tower has collapsed, the first tower has fallen, the President is in the air, terrorism, it just went on and on… I knew at those moments, everything was about to change. I know now while writing this, it remains the same. I live in a country that has always fought for its freedom. People die willingly and unwilling in pursuit and defense of our country’s freedom. Things will change, but they will stay the same.
Now as I’m writing this I’m thinking about these short days. The orange sun rising later each morning and setting earlier each evening. The smell of spring, the cold air and the beautiful colors. It seems as if the wildlife is much more active this time of year. The deer are rutting, the elk are bugleing, even the squirrels are more noticeable scurrying around in the fallen leaves making provisions for the upcoming winter. And I’m thinking… The sun will rise each morning and the seasons will change. Come spring, the animals will shed their winter coats and give birth to the new. The cycle always continues, it’s unfortunate not everyone remains part of the cycle.
I’m very sad that so many people had their lives cut short by the events of September 11, 2001. The changing seasons have a new twist to me now, one that will never be forgotten.