Propono (Latin): to put or set forth, to set or lay out, to offer, to place before, expose to view, display, point out, declare, represent, report, say, relate, set forth, publish, etc.

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Propono, ergo sum?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years on

I was at work, sitting in my cubicle in our Charlottesville, VA headquarters. I overheard a colleague in my manager's office saying something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I went quickly to (one of the few who was able to get it, the site--or our data pipe--so quickly overwhelmed with traffic) and verified that yes, indeed, it was true. A few of us ran upstairs to an apartment in the building that had a television with cable and there, shortly after our turning it on, a second plane hit the second tower. It was haunting. Soon rumors about a plane hitting the pentagon. It was all so surreal, inexplicable, unbelievable if not for the images before our eyes. We tried to maintain some level of activity (read: normalcy), but soon, as I was leading a meeting, our president walked in and told us: 'the towers have fallen. Gone.' "Go home," he said. Some of our company's biggest clients and customers were in Manhattan, and in the WTC specifically. I ran to my car, the attacks feeling very close in proximity, and rushed home. I remember seeing construction workers working on a building and wondering if, how, when, they'd learn what was happening. I remember seeing all these other cars and thinking: 'what is happening??' I called my wife and told her, told her to turn on the television, I was on my way home. Incredulous. Adrenaline. Uncertainty. She had to go to class, wasn't home when I arrived. I spent the day watching those images -- images seared upon the consciences of so many. I e-mailed, called families of friends, wanting to verify that our friends and loved ones were safe and accounted for. I also watched, even on the very day, as communities grew almost instantly to begin disseminating information about survivors and the missing. E-mail, blackberries, alumni groups, connections sprang to life as communication networks.

I spent the day wondering, thinking, watching, consuming as much information as I could. Each confirmation that someone was all right made me breathe a little easier, but I could still not fathom the destruction that we'd witnessed, still hoped against hope that more would walk away from the ruins of those buildings. Wondered what was becoming (and, indeed, what had become) of the world in which we lived.

We'd been to New York just a month or so prior. I took a neat picture of the buildings that I submitted to the 9-11 Digital Archive. We hadn't gone to the top because of the lines, figuring we'd do it on our next trip. We would never get that chance.

The next New Yorker cover eulogized, mourned, and celebrated the buildings in a way that expressed what so many certainly felt but probably couldn't articulate.

It's still difficult to make sense of it all, the magnitude and scale of the tragedy difficult to digest when taken all at once. Stories and recollections and images still evoke emotions still-close to the surface.

Much has occurred in the five years since September 11th, 2001. Much of joy and consequence in our own lives, and also much that is complex and difficult in the larger world around us. That day, though -- that bright, clear, September morning that so dramatically shifted the ground beneath our feet -- that day is still with us.


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