Are You Ready to Re-Live 9/11?
Tomorrow night, Oliver Stone's new film "World Trade Center" premieres. According to the reviews, the film is a far cry from Stone's left-wing, conspiratorial view of the world. In fact, it is supposed to be a conservative, Hollywood-style, heart string-tugging portrayal of two police officers trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center, fighting for their lives. But I just don't think that I am ready to see it, or to re-live 9/11.
I was deeply affected by the attacks on September 11, 2001. I was born and raised in New York only a few miles from the towers. In the 1980s, I worked at CNN in the lobby of the North Tower. Then the Washington, DC area, one of the two targets of the 9/11 hijackers, became and remains my home. I was sent home in the mass exodus from downtown DC that morning, where I ended up watching the news with friends. I knew two people, including a former girlfriend, on American Airlines Flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon. I have another friend who made it out of one of the towers just 60 seconds before it fell. I have a cousin who worked on one of the high floors of the World Trade Center, who, unbeknownst to us, had a meeting out of the office on September 11. Our family spent the morning trying to locate him. He spent the day, and the next days, trying to locate, and ultimately attending the funerals of, many of his friends and co-workers. Several years after 9/11, he passed away at a very early age, and I am certain that the stress and sorrow he felt due to 9/11 contributed to his death.
I went to Ground Zero about two months after 9/11. I was surprised by the grey dust that still permeated windows, nooks and crannies for many blocks. I also remember the few World Trade Center building fragments, with their distinctive tuning fork design, that remained standing at odd angles like chips randomly stuck in a bowl of dip. But I was most struck by the acrid smell. I tried not to think about what components made up that smell. Some time after that, I was able to shift focus by having a letter published in the Wall Street Journal, about my fond remembrances of the towers in their shining heyday.
Coincidentally, I am heading to New York about twelve hours after "World Trade Center" premieres. The southern approach to New York City, whether by airplane, train or automobile, used to feature the Twin Towers as the first glimpse, a beacon welcoming me. Now Manhattan Island seems like a giant lying on its back, with no feet.
I won't be seeing Oliver Stone's movie just yet. It's still too soon.