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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11- By Allen Eppenberger

 It’s been eleven years now since the World Trade Center attack.  While physical evidence of the wounds have healed, some mental healing takes time.

Back in 2001, I was working nights until 11:00 pm.  The internet was only a few years old, and still a playground for me.  I’d be on until roughly 1 am, and fall into bed, and sleep until about 10 am the next morning.  My radio would be my alarm clock those days.  As I was stirring that morning, I vaguely sleepily questioned why I was getting news rather than music at that time.  Something about airplanes, and towers, and lampposts being
sheared off in Washington.  As I laid there, I slowly listened to the descriptions of the horrors that had happened as I slept.

In total disbelief, I got up, went to the living room, and turned on the television.  Dumbfounded, I watched the looped images of the second plane crashing into the second tower in New York.  Then they’d switch to the carnage in Washington D.C. Listening to the reports, I finally got the total breakdown as to what happened.  My empathy circuits were on overload.  I went numb.

The months went by.  And eventually the years.  While I personally never lost anyone close to me in the attacks, the collective consciousness of a nation and local communities kept the memories fresh: the foundation pit empty and removing the final beam; the construction of the USS New York; local stories of steel beams going to town parks as local memorials; and the twin searchlights shining to the heavens.  Eventually, the New York memorial was finished, a new tower was started,  a park was placed in Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon was repaired and finished construction.

I acknowledged the 10 year anniversary like everyone else.  I cried.  But I didn’t feel the empathetic pangs the way I used to.  Maybe I could come to grips and move on.  So this year, I decided to make a pilgrimage to Stagg Island in Second Life when I got the notice about the ceremony.  I thought I could write objectively about the experience. It’s a very pretty place, with several features of memorials.  But I was trying to get to the main gathering.  After teleporting, I had to fly to get to the location.  I chose to land on the main memorial platform. And quite by accident, I landed near Lanai Jarrico.  Bless her heart, she’s a true journalist.  She saw me and asked if I’d do a story for the SLE.  Interview a few people, get the mood.  Check with one of the other reporters for input.  I said “sure”.  But
I instantly had inner conflict.  I didn’t want to be there as a reporter.  I wanted to make peace with unacknowledged turmoil.  Something I thought I had under control.  I listened to the words of the others in attendance.  I watched as the lanterns ascended into the sky.  I even took some pictures.  And I felt a single tear roll down my face.  I knew I couldn’t interview anybody.  Not this year, anyway.  I closed my Firestorm viewer, and returned to the default world, and wrote this, instead.

It’s been eleven years now since the World Trade Center attack.  While physical evidence of the wounds have healed, some mental healing takes time.

-Allen Eppenberger


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