It was just after my next to last long-range tuna fishing trip. I had the day off, it was sunny and bright. I flipped on my kitchen TV to catch up on the overnight news. Word was an airplane had crashed into one of the world trade center towers in New York.
Amazing, I thought. How stupid, I thought. It’s odd how all those people who cram themselves into cities, high-rises and towers manage to live there surrounded by filth, corruption, crime and airplanes crashing into their buildings.
A couple weeks earlier, I’d been out on the Pacific Ocean, armed with a fishing rod and reel, a bucket of bait and was catching bluefin tuna and albacore. No high rise buildings once the boat left San Diego Harbor. High waves, high spirits, high hopes, sure. But I was just a fisherman.
Back at home with coolers full of tuna filets, today was to be tuna-canning day. I wasn’t about to let an errant airplane crashing into a New York skyscraper ruin it. That was a world away from my home in rural Indiana.
Before breakfast was done, I watched in almost real time - perhaps in real time - as a second plane sliced into the other tower. Unreal. That was no accident, I was sure. Fool me once shame on you....
I needed jars, lids and rings to preserve the tuna chunks. Off to the store, 15 minutes away. On the way, the radio reported a third plane crashing into the Pentagon and on the way home, reports of a plane crashing in rural Pennsylvania came across the airwaves. I got home in time to watch almost in real time - or perhaps in real time - the first of the two towers crashing down.
While I was washing the jars and lids, the other tower crumbled. I don’t know which was worse, watching the individuals diving out of upper story windows or the harsh reality that once those buildings fell, survivors would be few. Early reports were as many as 50,000 people worked in those buildings. There was no telling if a quarter of them made it out, half? Luckily, most made it out. Amazingly, most made it out. Surprisingly, most made it out.
As the jars of tuna cooked and
the weight on the top of the canner rattled, I kept an eye and ear on the TV and radio. What had just happened?
One thing is for sure. The USA has never been the same since. It may never be the same. I’ll never be the same.