The following text is from an email that I sent out to friends and relatives on September 11, 2001.|
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 22:14:12 -1000
September 11, 2001:
Today is one of those days that I will never forget. America was brutally raped and murdered by the acts of international terrorism.
The images of the hijacked airliners hitting the World Trade Center towers and the subsequent collapse of those towers will forever be embedded in my mind.
I got up at 4:30 this morning, awakened from my sleep to take my early morning potty break. As usual I went to bed with the Art Bell radio show the night before. After using the bathroom, I noticed the banter on the radio was not the normal talk show that was usually on at that hour. Instead I heard some kind of panicked report regarding an explosion on the World Trade Center.
I immediately turned on the TV and saw the first horrible images of the World Trade Center on fire. I think the building had already collapsed, though reports at this time were still sketchy. I watched the TV for another half hour before I decided to call my brother in Las Vegas. For sure he would be up I thought.
Upon reaching his number, all I got was a woman on an answering machine. Having not called him in a long time, I was not so sure if I even got the right number... so I promptly hung up the phone.
Right after I called my parents on the Big Island. I got them up right before 5:AM. Both my Mom and Dad answered the phone. I gave them my sketchy report of what had happened on the mainland. I said, "turn on your TV. Something terrible has happened. A terrorist used a plane to blow the World Trade Center up."
I talked to my Mom and Dad for a few minutes. I knew Dad had already gone to turn on the TV. He asked where the President was. I said Mr. Bush was in Florida but was already travelling to somewhere else. At that time no one knew where.
After that short and tentative conversation, I continued to watch the television reports come in.
The devastation was just unbelievable. I could not believe my eyes as the once mighty twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed into themselves. I am sure many thousands of lives were instantly lost at those moments. Certainly everyone on the passenger jets had perished.
The television coverage also began showing the first sketchy images coming in from Arlington, VA where the Pentagon building was also attacked by suicide terrorists with another airliner. Again a devastating scene.
By this time reports were also coming in that another plane was on the way to hit another target and still another had crashed into something else. Sketchy reports again.
By 5:45 or so I decided to call Senator Sam Slom... longtime friend, my employer and President of Small Business Hawaii (SBH). Woke him up, gave him a sketchy report of what I had already seen. He realized that this was big and hurried me off the phone so that he could see for himself.
For the rest of the morning, I watched the network and local feeds on television, and tuned into several radio stations at the same time to catch any local angle.
As the morning progressed, I learned that the Federal Government had put all military bases on heightened alert, closed federal offices and all of the airports including Honolulu's. I noticed that there were no planes flying out of HNL as they normally do in the early morning hours. Local media interviewed various government and private officials.
I learned that the State Government would not close for the day. We were expected to report to work. I could live with that.
I got ready, packed my camera, Palm PDA and off to work I went. It was already 7:45 in the morning. I decided to stop at Ala Moana Shopping Center to withdraw some cash from the ATM and buy a few knick-knacks from Foodland and Longs' Drug. I went downstairs to Foodland and found the supermarket closed. They normally open at 6:30. I waited for Longs' to open at 8. Someone came out of the store and announced that they and the rest of the shopping center was ordered to stay closed for the day. I left shortly after.
Upon arrival at the capitol, I noticed that the parking garage roll-up gates were down and a police officer was watching the employee entrance. That was no problem since I could use my entry card to get the gates to roll up and let my car in. I walked over to the back entrance in the underground garage only to find the door locked. Oh well, gotta walk around to the front.
Got to our office on the second floor and phoned Senator Slom to tell him that I was there. We discussed the events of the morning as they were still unfolding. Sam was quite upset and so was I. I had felt that we were raped as a nation.
Sam asked me if I had ever been there. I had. Back in 1974 when I went with my Dad on a mainland vacation which stopped in New York City. It seems to be a lifetime away for me now, but I do remember seeing the World Trade Center. The buildings were only about 2 or 3 years old at that time. We never went to the center and quite possibly one or both of the towers were not fully completed. I know I went up to the 88th floor of the Empire State Building and looked across Manhattan Island to the twin towers in the distance. They were very new and gleaming then.
Today only rubble remains.
The day at the office was spent mostly watching TV and listening to various radio reports. Senator Slom would not be in for today as he had other business to take care of at SBH. The day went by fairly slow as I did some of the routine office tasks such as checking and processing the mail. The TV remained on and the images and reports were observed during many breaks taken that day.
Later I went to our Senate Minority Research office where I chatted with some of my co-workers about the day's events. We were all quite stunned at the unbelievable events that had taken place. Bobby from Senator Hemmings office asked me whether or not there would be an economic fallout for Hawaii as result of this day. For sure there certainly would be, but I thought it was too early to be thinking about this. Bobby also revealed that Senator Hemmings was stuck today in Denver Colorado as he went up there to watch last night's Broncos football game. (Senator Hemmings has some kind of ownership interest in the team). I also spent some time talking to Carina. She indicated that Virginia, my predecessor at Senator Slom's office was quite upset about the days' events (who wasn't?)....
By mid afternoon I had my small lunch and bought a copy of the afternoon Advertiser. The images which I had seen on TV was just as devastating in the paper. I had also downloaded a few of them and read additional stories about the events on the internet. News was fairly easy to get through the net, though most of it repeated what was already said on television.
At days' end I went home at my normal time. Most of the day was spent watching the many news reports coming in from New York and the area around the Pentagon. Upon my arrival home, I went to the Daiei store to buy a few grocery items and had dinner by myself in my small apartment.
The TV was and still is my constant companion. The images of the devastation has already played over and over and now from different angles and viewpoints. It is pure hell. Our country has been thrown into a war situation.
I am prayerful that President Bush and the rest of the Federal command people can get a grip on this thing and do everything possible to take these terrorists out once and for all. This crap has got to stop.
So here I sit tonight, by myself on a day that will live in infamy for the rest of our lives. I don't know what the future holds for us. I can only hope that we see nothing like this again in our lives.
However, I have my serious doubts. This may only be the beginning of a new wave of terror for all of us in the United States.
As I reflect upon my life in Honolulu, I sometimes think that I should move out of the city and go back to the rural life in Honokaa on the Big Island. The chances of a terrorist strike in Honokaa is significantly less than it is here. I almost know for sure that I may never travel to a distance farther than the Hawaiian islands. I think terrorism has made our lives less safe and more restrictive. Over the years I have had a growing fear of flying. This kind of stuff only adds another layer to strengthen that fear. The question of "what if" will always be in the back of my mind every time I go to an airport or travel in an airliner. It is unsettling.
Time will only tell as to what happens next. All we can do is hope for the best.