It’s been nine long years since the events of September 11, 2001 happened and much like people who talk about remembering where they were when Kennedy was killed, I know that I will always have that fateful day burned deeply into my memory.
I remember sitting in my shared office at work my co-workers and I reading the newspaper and drinking our morning coffee as we did every other day before and since. We were joking around listening to a local rock and roll station when the news slowly began to break from New York.
The reports sounded confused at first, a small plane had hit a building in New York, a Cessna one eye-witness had mistakenly reported. It didn’t sound like a big deal at the time, we all went on drinking our coffee. Then the news told of a second plane had crashed in New York, hitting the World Trade Centre and this time it was a commercial airliner. Reports came with every song now, and it seemed prudent to change to a news radio station.
It was about this time something strange happened to the noise level in the factory in which I work. The sound of drill motors and rivet guns was replaced by the sound of the air handling units. The factory had gone quiet. Maybe other factories around North America were going quiet too, but mine had a special significance that day. My factory helped build those aircraft, I build airplanes for Boeing.
As the day slowly went on my two co-workers and I in the shipping department listened intently to each and every word out of that radio. The reports growing more and more chilling by the minute. American airspace had been closed, shut down. Nothing coming in, nothing going out. This unprecedented action causing the scrambling of CF-18 fighter jets to fly a picket formation around the Canadian Capital of Ottawa and to intercept any and all suspicious aircraft in Canadian airspace.
We left work at lunch rushing over to one of my co-workers homes, reaching his television just as the second World Trade Tower collapsed. The news showing people jump to their deaths instead of dying in the fires that had consumed the skyscrapers. The emotions of the reporters on the scene were as raw as the footage they broadcast.
One sad realization came to my mind that day and sticks with me even as I type this. Those terrorists used my product, commercial airliners to commit an act of unspeakable, unthinkable murder. The peaceful and graceful wings that I had built had caused the deaths of so many innocent lives. Wings that were meant to unite people, wings that were designed to spread joy and good news. All those brave and innocent souls gone.
I suppose I got off easy in the aftermath of 9/11. I did not lose any friends or family, I only lost my job. Laid off for 3 years because people were afraid to fly. Scared that the plane they would climb into would become a flying bomb.
I work at Boeing today, recalled after the flying public started to return. I am very proud of the airplanes I build. I put hours upon hours of my sweat and skill into every piece. Hoping that the planes I build once again unite cultures and bridge the gaps that have torn our planet apart for these last 9 years. I pray that they carry peace.
Postscript: Where were you on that dark day? If this post moved you in any way, positive or negative. Please feel free to share your thoughts.