Sunday, September 10, 2006

Weekend Assign: 9/11 -- Five Years Later

I wasn't sure that I wanted to do this weeks assignment from John over at By The Way. But, here I am.....

Weekend Assignment #128: Share your thoughts about 9/11. You can remember back on what you were doing on the day or give some thought to how we think about it today. Thoughts personal, political or philosophical are all up for consideration. Tell us all what you think about when you think about September 11, 2001.
No extra credit this week; thinking about 9/11 should be enough to keep us all occupied. Write it up in your Journal or Blog, and then come back here and leave a link, so we can all share our thoughts together.

Five years ago I was in my second year of my first tour with the circus. Those of us on the pre-set up crew had pulled in the day before and set up all of the animal areas. Some of my animals traveled over the road with me instead of on the train, so I had already gotten them tucked in to their tent the night before. For some reason the load-in had been a long one, and we were all tired that night when we headed off to the hotels to get a little sleep before the arrival of the train the next day with the rest of the animals and all of the other people.

The animal walk had been scheduled as an early morning walk on the 11th and the plan was to stick as close to our time frame as possible since we were to take a detour up thru downtown Memphis stopping at a park for a little PR that had been set up. For some reason G and I did not turn on the TV that morning before heading over to the parking lot of the Pyramid. Normally we would have had the TV on for noise and a quick check of the weather. Maybe it was because we had been really tired the night before, but we got up just a few minutes before we needed to walk out the door.

Arriving at the lot, I didn't notice anything unusual, and as G went off to check and make sure the train was still on schedule, I wandered over to the tent where I already had my zebras and Freisians installed. Opening up the flap I was greeted with the normal sounds of an early morning barn anywhere..... Animals asking to be fed.. NOW!

Quickly handing out breakfast rations, I wondered at G not returning to tell me if the train was on time or late.... Late was often the norm, and I was considering a trip to a nearby McD or other facsimile thereof for breakfast for myself...

How quickly a normal routine can be completely disrupted... entering the elephant tent I was greeted with the news of the first plane hitting the towers.... we were still digesting this and considering how the pilot could have made such a tragic error when the supervisor, whose trailer was on the lot, came back out the door and told us of the second plane.... and that it was now being considered an attack.

We stood around wondering what to do.... and possibly a little selfishly... how it would affect us and getting our animals off of the train and into their more normal accommodations. The rest of the day is a little of a blur.

The animal walk went from a triumphant entry and parade thru the streets with children in a park laughing and clapping to a quick walk the shortest way we could find to get to the lot. The people running the pyramid where worried because, as you can see from the photo here, this building would be easily recognizable from the air. We were told that we could not load in the rest of our show that day as planned, and they weren't sure if we would be allowed to do the shows at all.... there was talk of breaking down tents and moving them farther away from the building... and whether we would be a good (read high profile) target for a terrorist group ourselves. No one knew for sure what was happening and there was fear of other attacks....

After getting all of the animals settled in, we found ourselves without the normal load-in we were expecting.... and slowly we all trickled back to the train and TV sets where we all tuned in to local channels and watched the crash over and over again. Phone calls made to be sure people we knew on other shows were o.k.... One person had left that morning to fly out to FL, but thankfully, her flight was cancelled before she got on it and she returned to the lot, shaken but at least not stranded somewhere! I phoned my brother (who's in the Navy) and we talked about if he could be called up for this...Some people gathered outside the train with TVs brought outside and connected to satellite TV set ups that people had (DISH, DirectTV?? I don't remember) so we could watch CNN and other news channels. Ultimately it just seemed surrealistic. Everyone just seemed stunned by the whole thing. Many of the people with us weren't U.S. citizens, and some time was spent explaining to them and trying to translate news.

But, life did go on... They allowed us in the building early the next day and we were able to get inside and with a lot of hard work have the show ready for the first scheduled show of the stand.... But, nothing would ever be the same.

So, that's where I was the day we were attacked..... and, I'm sure I'll never forget how sad, angry, upset, confused and lost I felt that day. I remember my mother's generation always knowing exactly what they were doing the day JFK was shot, my grandmother's was Pearl Harbor... this will be one of those moments for our generation.

note: I wrote this in one sitting... just typing. when I went back and reread it I realized that it is a little jumbled... but that is how I remember that day.. Jumbled and confused. I thought about going back and clarifying and cleaning it up, but then it wouldn't be as I remember, would it?


Antonette said...

I thought your post was beautiful.

Jimmy said...

I think you've not only recaptured the mad chaos that came into many of our lives, but also did a great job of expressing it in a way that portrays that chaos. It goes without saying how horrible a day it was, but it's important to remember it, because we owe it to the heroes and victims to do everything in our power to assure it doesn't happen again.