With talk of Harvey and Irma the only thing in the news the past three weeks, I didn’t realize that as of Monday, it had been 16 years since terrorists stabbed at the heart of America … on Sept. 11, 2001.
On Monday I watched videos of the planes hitting the World Trade Center towers. Some of that video hasn’t been seen by me for years, but is thankfully showing up on social media. It shows people jumping to their deaths out of one of the towers. It shows video of what appears to be a board meeting in one of the towers when the first plane hits. It shows the collapse of both towers and those running for their lives below. You can hear the gasps and the crying as those watching on TV and elsewhere witness the murder of thousands.
I won’t say I enjoyed the videos, but they brought back a lot of memories.
I was at work at the Mansfield News Journal the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. I was to get married Sept. 29, and those were the thoughts filling my head.
Until my desk phone rang.
I answered it, well I have no idea what time it was, but “Today” was on. A caller told me to turn on the TV, that an airplane had just crashed into one of the WTC towers. That was the first any of us learned of what would transpire throughout that day. At the time, we all thought it was just a random, tragic accident.
Then the second plane hit, and America was changed forever.
Changed in ways both good and bad.
Unfortunately, the feelings of camaraderie and love and hope that became apparent days after Sept. 11, 2001 have long disappeared. The last 10 years have divided this country more than ever.
At times we seem to be at war with ourselves. And at times, it is just as painful to watch as were the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
But we also learned that tragedy and a common enemy can meld most in this nation together to protect a greater good. I hope something like those attacks on America isn’t the only thing that can turn us back in a good direction.
I’m not confident. But I hope.
The News Journal put out a special edition that day. A photographer and I (Dave Polcyn, a U.S. Navy veteran from Medina) went out to talk to Mansfielders. We went to an old restaurant on Ohio 13, not far from State Street, where my mom grew up. We went to a black barber shop in Mansfield, and two or three other places I do not recall.
I remember a lot of sadness, a lot of disbelief, and as the day went on, I remember a building anger.
It’s a day I will never forget … Sept. 11, 2001.
Major storm overload
The Houston area is still drying out from last month’s Hurricane Harvey, which dropped more than four feet of rain on some places. Help and care packages from all over the nation were still on their way to Texas when Irma struck.
We’ve not come to terms with Harvey, and now parts of Florida have been flattened by Irma.
On Monday, via social media, I had several conversations with friends from Galion who now make their homes in Florida. All of them are thankful the storm was not as fierce or deadly as predicted.
Many will be days — perhaps weeks — without electricity, but they are carrying on and planning for the future.
I’ve not seen much footage from the Miami area or the Tampa/St. Pete’s area, where storm damage was a bit more intense.
But I fear the death toll is going to go up. And that saddens me.
We will be cleaning up for years from these two storms.
The flooding in Houston has still not subsided in all places, but once it does, there will need to be a massive repair effort.
The same goes for the areas hit hardest by Irma.
Storm surges are hard to predict, and are often the deadliest part of any hurricane. And with this one as wide as it was, rip tides and storm surges and beach erosion is expected along the entire Florida coast and possibly as far north as Virginia Beach. That’s a big storm.
The economic impact from these two storms will be felt for years. From Galveston and the Gulf Coast around the Florida peninsula and possibly as far north as Virginia.
But this is the kind of event that seems to bring out the best in Americans.
Still, it’s truly sad that something terrible must first occur to stop us from hating one another for a few days.
A few more random thoughts
As I write this, the Indians have won 19 games in a row and I’m finally getting a case of Tribe Fever!
The Cleveland Browns have lost 13 openers in a row, but looked much better than I expected in Sunday’s opener in Cleveland. And thanks in part to Jim Brown, some peace was made between members of the Browns and local police, which was the most satisfying part of that day.
Ohio State has played one — maybe two — good quarters in starting the season with an ugly win over Indiana and an even uglier loss Saturday to Oklahoma. I admire Urban Meyer’s loyalty, but I feel it may be time to put someone else in at quarterback for the Buckeyes.
Also, I birdied N0. 2 at Oak Tree on Sunday, a very rare accomplishment for me.
But sports was only one part of the the last few days.
Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or story ideas.