I was an independent consultant, and had just arrived at my small office in downtown Kirkwood, the suburb of St. Louis where I live. Kirkwood is a time-warp kind of place, or so it seemed then. Founded in 1857, blocks of beautiful old houses, a farmer's market, a still working train station and a community attitude that there is no better place to live on the face of the earth. A friend of mine (who doesn't live in our suburb) once said, "Kirkwood isn't a community; Kirkwood is a religion." And he was not too far wrong.
I turned on the computer, sipped coffee, preparing for another day. And then I saw the photo of the World Trade Center, with one tower aflame. I flipped on my little portable televsion. I then did what was the natural thing for me to do. I called my wife. "Turn on the TV," I said. "But what--" she said, before I interrupted. "Turn on the TV." I couldn't speak what I was seeing on my tiny screen. Together, on the phone we watched our television screens. And then the plane hit the second tower.
"Come home," my wife cried. But home had become a different place. And it would again. One night, less than seven years later, a crazed gunman walked into the Kirkwood City Hall during a council meeting and started firing. People died. People I knew and had talked to. City Council members. Two policemen. The mayor died many months later, after seeming to recover from his gunshot wounds.
America met evil on Sept. 11, evil on a colossal scale. Kirkwood met it on a cold night in February, 2008. Everything changed.
There are many online friends who are posting today, and I will update this as they do. Here are a few ways America is expressing its grief, its memory and its resolve about the what happened on the day we all became New Yorkers, we all worked at the Pentagon, and we all crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
L.L. Barkat, whose husband was supposed to have been working in One World Trade Center that day: The Curator Magazine; The High Calling Blogs; Love Notes to Yahweh.
Billy Coffey, who stared up into a 9/12 sky and saw only clouds and birds: What I Learned Today.
Katdish, who asks what were you doing eight years ago today? Hey Look a Chicken!.
Time Magazine: Photoessay.
Joan Ball, remembering a firefighter: Flirting with Faith.
Mashable: Remembering 9/11 Through Social Media.
Matthew Warner at Fallible Blogma: Remembering 9/11.
Vitamin Z: A Couple of Haunting Photos on 9/11.