One year ago today I was in the air, winging my way back to Guam.
It was the evening of September 11. I was at Narita, waiting for my evening flight to Guam. All the Northwest flights leave from a single circular concourse and the room was crowded with passengers. I just wanted to get home, I was tired and grumpy.
As we overflew Saipan, I was concerned to see the airport was dark on that island. “Must be shutdown for the night,” was my first thought. As we approached Guam, I saw that Andersen AFB was dark as well, and that our destination, the Guam International Airport was also a black hole in the night. “What the hell is going on?” I thought. We were high, far too high for a normal approach. At the last instant, the big 747 literally nose-dived down to the runway and landed.
As I left the plane, I was surprised to see a contingent of Marines standing at the end of the jetway in combat fatigues and bristling with weapons. “What the hell happened?” I asked a fellow passenger. He didn’t know either. We were the first off the plane, so we headed to immigration. That was were we heard the news. As I spoke to the immigration officer, a voice carried the news; the second tower had collapsed. Rumors were rampant; the Capitol was destroyed, the White House was hit, car bombs were exploding at embassies around the world. In the space of three hours the world had gone insane.
My ride was waiting for me, and we drove to my home. Once inside, I immediately turned on the the television and watched the horrible images. I think the television was on for about 24 hours straight that day. It was the middle of the night on Guam, but I still called some local friends, woke them up, and told them to turn on the television. Called my parents, called my sister, tried to call my friend in New York. But mostly I sat looking at the television.
There, that’s my 9/11 story – though most of it really takes place on 9/12. It’s been a year and the world is still a troubled and violent place. I don’t think anything’s changed at all.