The death of Osama bin Laden brings back a rush of awful memories: frantic calls to friends in New York and at the Pentagon on 9-11; the deaths of so many innocent Americans; the fear that followed.
We all remember where we were that beautiful September morning. I was running late for work and answered a call from a friend, “Did you hear a plane hit the World Trade Center?”
I turned on NPR and assumed that a small private craft had veered off course and hit one of the towers. By the time I got inside my office, the second plane had hit and it was immediately apparent that bin Laden orchestrated the attack.
I formerly worked in New York as a financial reporter for Reuters and had many, many sources and friends who worked in the towers. Reaching them proved impossible that day. I also have several friends who work in the Pentagon. One was, thankfully, out of town that day on business; another friend’s photo was snapped by USA Today as he fled the burning building. And another acquaintance did not make it out, killed at his desk.
He was described as someone who died doing what he loved. It forced me to think about how I was spending my life: earning a hefty paycheck working in business development for a homophobic boss in a company I despised. What would people have said about me if the plane had hit my office? “He died for his bonus.” A few months after 9-11, I walked out in the middle of the day without a word to anyone. I just left, climbed in my car, rolled down all the windows, blasted the radio and never looked back.
The attacks of 9-11 affected each of us in different ways. For me, it forced a harsh reassessment of how I was spending my career. A few months after driving away from that suburban D.C. office park, I got a call from the Blade about a job opening and I’ve been here ever since, back in journalism where I always knew I belonged.
It took nearly 10 years, but, as President Obama put it, justice has been done.