It’s Sept. 11, 2020. We have a liar and authoritarian wannabe in the White House. Nearly 200,00 have died from a pandemic. Climate change has caused devastating fires in California, Oregon and Washington. Cars line up outside the local elementary school for free food every weekend. Millions of my fellow Americans are out of work. I wrote this piece exactly a year ago.
Dad called me out of class. He said that that I was to leave my boarding school outside Boston if I got another call. He said steal a car if I had to and meet him at Cold Stream Pond. It was October 24, 1962.
Well, I did not get a second call, but I was ready to hot wire my French teacher’s Renault and drive to Maine if I had to. It turns out that Cold Stream Pond is in Lincoln and the town is 150 miles from what was then Loring Air Force Base. The base was a likely target of Soviet missiles and was closed during the Bush administration to deal with the deficit or something.
Fast forward to Sept. 11, 2001. My wife and I were both working at home. I didn’t feel well or else I would have been in my office in Southwest DC. There was an emergency alert on NPR so we both sat down in front of the TV. As the second plane hit, I couldn’t help but think that whoever did this had just struck near my boyhood home. Then, another plane slammed into the Pentagon.
The CEO of the nonprofit where I worked left his car in the garage at Federal Center South that afternoon and walked home over the 14th Street bridge to his home in Arlington. He said he could see the smoke billowing from the Pentagon on the way home. I guess I might have had a difficult time walking back to Reston as trains had been stopped temporarily because of what had just happened on top of the Pentagon station.
Both our children were in school and presumably safe although NBC said there was still a plane in the air. Cell phones for teens were not yet common so we were not sure they were going to be safe, another source of concern. I know the memory 9-11 has made them and an entire generation less certain that the homeland is safe. I thought then that maybe I should pack the car and drive to Lincoln, Maine.