September 11 Recollections #1

I had a unique perspective that September Day back in 2001. Working for a Major Airline, the first reports were sketchy and confused. I recall walking out to a flight, on a television screen the sight of the first tower silhouetted in an opel New York sky. Smoke  drifted oblique from a ragged scar in the pale tower.

Funny, in the airline business every aircraft incident resonates deeply. The first reports were of a small or commuter plane crashing into the tower.  I shrugged and could well imagine such an accident would occupy not only the news, but conversations with coworkers, speculations from mechanics and air controllers, and the occasional morsel of inside information from a friendly FAA official. When the second aircraft struck no one could deny what was unfolding.. Right after a choice expletive I turned to a couple shocked coworkers and said, “We are at war.”

A friend named Mark was married to a flight attendant and had been assigned to one of the flights out of Boston’s Logan airport where the doomed flight originated. I knew her. She was pretty and sweet, and in an environment that can best be described as a cross between a high school locker and prison, Mark was a genuinely decent guy, well-educated enough to do most anything else, but loving the flight benefits and the hard physically exhausting work  of a frontline airline worker. More than that, he loved the people he worked beside, as crews bonded in dangerous conditions, tested in all weather extremes as closely as men in battle. Having been in battle, I can attest fully to that.

Then word came of the crash  at the Pentagon. Meanwhile Mark paced madly, awaiting calls amid a desperately overwhelmed system about whether his wife was on one of the flights. No one knew what to say to him. How does one console someone for not knowing? Time becomes a madman with a knife. Fate is the madman’s laugh, mocking and cruel all at once.

It wasn’t long after that, a matter of minutes when the FAA announced an unprecidented full ground stop nationwide. Someone came down and said that all the planes parked at gates needed to be checked and the gates needed to be cleared. An argument erupted. The toughest big mouths in the room were the first to remind that they weren’t being paid for that sort of danger. A number of us, in small groups or alone went out the door to that uncertainty. I grabbed a big wrench and recall thinking, ” What the f%$k will this do against people willing to crash planes into buildings?”

I recall  when I returned to the room, sweating buckets, numb, Mark was sitting in a chair with his face buried in his hands. My heart sank and I sighed think the worst. For a moment I could imagine his  wife and how terrified she must have been as the plane slammed into the tower. An Irish kid named Sean, an IRA courier years before as a boy, came over. Our eyes met for a long moment, sharing the tragedy of the moment. Quiet and not prone to his emotions getting the best of him, Sean shook his head slowly.

“Messed up.”

I nodded to Mark. “He hear?”

“His wife wasn’t on the flight,” said Sean. “She was supposed to be.”

I only shook my head and threw the wrench on a cabinet.

Fights  are about the moment. Whoever perpetrated the attacks had won the fight. What was to come was about retribution and revenge. Some may disagree and call it justice, but then that is fully a matter for hearts and minds to reconcile. 

“Messed up

About 900poundgorilla

W.C. Turck is a Chicago playwright and the author of four widely acclaimed books.His latest is "The Last Man," a prophetic novel of a world ruled by a single corporation. His first novel, "Broken: One Soldier's Unexpected Journey Home," was reccommended by the National Association of Mental Health Institutes. His 2009 Memoir, "Everything for Love" chronicled the genocide in Bosnia and the siege of Sarajevo. His third book "Burn Down the Sky" is published exclusively on Amazon Kindle. It was in Sarajevo at the height of the siege where he met and married his wife, writer and Artist Ana Turck. FOX NEWS, ABC, CBS News, the Chicago Tribune and The Joliet Herald covered their reunion after the war. He helped organized relief into Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Turck has been a guest on WMAQ-TV, WLS in Chicago, WCPT, WBBM radio, National Public Radio, Best Of the Left and the Thom Hartmann show. He has spoken frequently on Human Rights, Genocide and Nationalism. In 2011, his play in support of the Occupy Movement, "Occupy My Heart-a revolutionary Christmas Carol" recieved national media attention and filled theaters to capacity across Chicago. He remains an activist to the cause of human rights and international peace. View all posts by 900poundgorilla

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