IT WAS TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY…

As the summer season comes to its close, and the Labor Day weekend makes its unofficial ending to that time of year, it’s the moment where new beginnings tend to take place, from the return to school to the new season for television programming.

However, thanks to the elements known by many names, but often referred to as “The Pandemic”, much of the school return has brought a load of question and anxiety, But also to note is an anniversary that was one of the many “new beginnings” that were entered within this domestic society.

This coming Saturday, September 11th, will make the twentieth anniversary of the day known as “9/11”. That was the day that was noted to change things over matters that were never experienced previously. Some changes were for the good while others were for full awareness.

Of course, it was a red letter day for the people involved in journalism, be it in print or through electronic means. And yours truly was part of the former method, literally having my writing appear on physical pages.

Back then, I was the writer of this newsletter. My side job was the writer of a column called “Richer By Far’ that appeared within the monthly edition of The Epicenter, the official publication of the Los Angeles California chapter of The Catholic Alumni Club.

I wrote that column for three years from 2000 through 2003. Long after I left the LACAC, I compiled some of my past columns for a book I was working on placing in some order on those articles with commentary of what I composed. Although that book’s creation was placed on hold for a number of reasons, I thought that to pay tribute to that monumental “day of infinity” where to publish my commentary of what I wrote about in the aftermath of 9/11 in that edition of The Epicenter, as well as my reflection to what went into my scribbling.

Of course, things have changed since that Tuesday past. The most noted that didn’t exist back then was social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even YouTube didn’t exist! American Online did have its chat rooms and its AOL Messenger services, and there were a few weblogs (“blogs”) out there, but were only out there for anyone that was lucky enough to have a computer hooked up to “the internet” to make it all work. And cell phones barely had the capacity to send and receive messages via text!

So it was up to those sitting behind a work processor or a typewriter to get their points across. Nevertheless, here’s the real story to it all…

When I wrote my columns, I tried to get them completed as close to the deadline as I could. This was more true for articles that were topical, making sure that the write up was as fresh as I could get away with. However, many of my notes were rather generic, so beating a deadline wasn’t as crucial as it seemed.

The article for the October, 2001 issue of The Epicenter was going to be one of those generic pieces. I first wrote my rough draft on the second weekend in September, creating the general idea for the entry on that Saturday, and then completing it on Sunday. I was glad to get that out of the way so far in advance. Now I was able to concentrate on other matters!

Two days after I completed my column, disaster struck!

Millions of folks were turning to the media to get any news or information of what went on once the story broke. People in this nation, as well as others around the world, were seeing the coverage on TV, hearing reports on the radio broadcasts, and turning to the web based news services for any bit of news they could find. CNN and Yahoo had so many logging on to their web sites, both of their servers crashed! E-mails were being sent back and forth containing such messages as “Are you OK?” and “Are you hurt?” Phone lines were jammed! Cell phone service had to be shut down in many places due to an overload of calls. In short, it was a day that was indeed “a day of infamy”.

Of course, many of the events and activities that would have been held that day were immediately canceled! Yours truly and my then girlfriend (and now wife) Mary were going to attend a touring stage production company performance of the musical Chicago in nearby Thousand Oaks. (It was either that or attending an advance press screening of a Keanu Reeves feature called Hardball. I chose the former!) Instead, we joined the millions and stayed at home watching Tom Brokaw on NBC telling us what by then everyone within earshot had already known!

As that afternoon turned into evening into the late night, I was staring into my computer monitor screen, reading the manuscript of my article–the one I completed over the previous weekend. Mary was in my bedroom, fast asleep on the bed after watching countless “updates” and reports of the events from that day on TV. I felt that I just couldn’t ignore what just went on. So in true journalistic fashion, I promptly started to write a whole new column on what occurred, and how something like that wasn’t going to make anyone live in a world of countless fear or uncertainty. What I didn’t know at the time was that others like me–those that write for the written word, professionally or semi professionally, were doing exactly the same thing, throwing out their old dribble pieces and commenting on the shock, horror, and later, peace and recovery of things tragic!

This “Richer By Far” article was the fastest one I had ever written, before or since. I believed I wrote this column at around 2:30 AM Wednesday morning while hearing the sounds of Mary snoring like a buzzsaw in the next room. The entire piece was written as it stands in about 15 minutes!!

Last September 11th, I received a phone call from my close friend Mary. When she phones me, she usually tells me about some of the things that are going on with her at the moment or just to say a quick “hello”. When she called me that morning, I thought she was getting details on what we were planning to do for that evening. Instead, she started to babble about what first sounded like the plot line for Die Hard IV. I was imagining that the hero Bruce Willis was once again dealing with some evil terrorist (played by Christopher Walkin perhaps?) who was planning to take over the nation by causing all sorts of havoc!! Of course, after hearing Mary’s story “pitch”, I had later found out that this was no movie plot line. This was for real!!

For many of us, that was not the first time in our lives that some episode that was not of our making had affected us emotionally in one way or another. Many still recall such events that brought the entire country, if not the world, to a brief standstill. Whenever it happened some twenty, forty, or even sixty years before, it touched many lives. However, in spite of what happened, one element is sure and clear; life goes on!

Frank Sinatra in his big hit “That’s Life” sang about no matter what life may bring to someone, the world keeps spinnin’ around. People will go back to doing the so-called normal stuff that makes up living the domestic life; paying bills, feeding the cat, and catching up on the latest installment of Fraser on TV. This is the same idea for each one of us. Within our lives and feelings, no matter what can happen and how it happens, time will match on and on. If one can get back on track, it can make one a heartier person. A person that does this has self esteem and can go forward into their own world with little or no fear! At first, it can be difficult, but it is not impossible!

Yours truly had to live through many events where at first it was the “end of the world”. But guess what folks? I’m still here plugging away as I did before. Sure, I have a slightly different attitude than I did before the episode, but that attitude has made me stronger and assisted me to overcome such future events that can occur to me once again.

This may be one of the most difficult facts to face in times of stress. If one person experiences an event that is emotional, such as a loved one passing on, one can feel and remember the loved one for their times. Yet after the last tear is shed, one has to continue to carry on for the future. Such carrying on is an important action that any person can do. Sure, pause for a moment or two, and then resume standard activity.

With a strong mind and stronger heart, we can go on with making life as we can really make it, using the wisdom and guidance that god has given to us! As to note that no matter what happened before, Bruce Willis made sure that he was able to kick the butts of all of the bad guys before the end credits, only to take ‘em out again in the next feature!!

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