As many are remembering throughout the blogosphere today, I recall the disbelief. A plane has hit the WTC? Surely a little general-aviation plane. Oh, a commercial airliner? How could that be? Another plane has hit the other tower? The first tower has collapsed? What does that mean? I assumed glass had fallen off, but never imagined the tower had literally collapsed. I then got myself to a TV and saw the live images of the second tower coallapsing.
We were all stunned, and once it was clear that this was an attack, I debated about whether to go about my plans for the day. I did. I had a dental appointment in southern Orange County. I live in northern San Diego County. (There actually are dentists in San Diego County, but there isn’t Dr. Brazeal.) To go between home and dentist requires passing through Camp Pendleton on I-5. I briefly wondered if was even a good idea to drive through a major military base and past a nuclear reactor on a day America was under attack by terrorists. But I went ahead.
What I remember most was three things. One, there was hardly any traffic. Second, the light traffic was composed entirely of polite drivers (why does it take a national tragedy for people to be so polite?). Third, marines stationed along the entrances to the base armed with bigger guns than I had ever seen.
Regarding the response in the first few days after the event, and the comparison to the response to the tragic hurricane on the Gulf Coast, many posts on many blogs that I am too lazy to link to right now (inlcuding my own from yesterday on “leadership”) have remarked on the differences between the responses to 9/11 and Katrina. But as I was watching my Angels hammer the White Sox yesterday, a few random thoughts came to mind:
After 9/11/2001, major-league baseball suspended play for a week, and resumed play with American flag decals sewn on players’ uniforms.
After Hurricane Katrina, play went on, and the players are all wearing Red Cross emblems on their helmets.
Both events are grave national tragedies with mass death and devastation, both should generate (in my view) somewhat uneasy mixes of at once coming together as proud and resilient Americans along with soul-searching about collective decisions made and not made, and MLB is only one American institution. Yet the juxtaposition of responses is quite striking.
Oh, and the traffic has not been any lighter and certainly not any more polite than usual around here in the wake of the news from the Gulf Coast.