My birthday is a pretty uneventful day. I think most people just treat their birthday like any other day for the most part once they become adults. There might be cake (I'm a pie guy myself) or dinner or a night out, but not that big blowout party like when we were young and foolish. As an example, on my 21st birthday my parents (who owned the Best Western and accompanying restaurant at the time) took me across the parking lot to get a drink. After that we went back to work.
Like most of the birthdays before it, my 40th birthday was uneventful. I know I worked, and I probably had lunch with my parents since I work evenings though we might have done something during the weekend prior since my birthday was on Monday. As I said, most are uneventful, so I don't really remember it.
However, the next day that particular September is the one I will always remember Sept. 11, 2001. That's the day the world changed. There are moments many remember, and a few moments everyone remembers and are chronicled. Those times are generally tragic in nature bombing of Pearl Harbor, assassination of President Kennedy, the attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, etc.
The attacks brought home how dangerous a place the world can be. Yes, we've seen the violence in other parts of the world, we've seen the terror, and America has participated in wars. But in modern times none have taken place on our soil and those dangerous place were anywhere but here.
I don't remember everything I did that day, but like you I remember most things. I was in the office by 10:30 a.m., when normally it would have been after lunch. We had one news staffer, Connie Stafford, who was on vacation. We Bill Speer, former News Editor Rich Wertz and me gave serious consideration to calling Connie to see if she would work, but decided to let her try and enjoy her vacation. Other than that, everyone was in the newsroom by 11 a.m. And we set about how we would tackle the day and tell how it affected and would affect the lives of people in Northeast Michigan.
Our staff did a great job. At first the thought was on what other things were happening that we had scheduled to cover, though all of those were canceled. We had 10 stories that day on everything from security at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center to how to talk to your kids about what happened in New York and Washington. Several area churches held vigils and we were able to get photos. Our newspaper, normally a 16-page paper was 20 pages. There were non-attack stories, but those were all in the second section of the paper. We did have a couple of local sports stories, as a couple of high school girls basketball games were played, but the rest of them were rescheduled.
It was a long day for everyone involved. In the newsroom we had the television on and from time to time someone would walk over to watch for a few minutes. The other departments had radios tuned to the news, and some people from those departments would sneak upstairs to catch a peek at the TV.
Ten years later, the memories of that day in September are still fresh in the minds of most people. We as a nation will remember what happened and honor those who died in the attacks. Most Americans don't know anyone who died in the attacks or anyone who knows someone who died in the attacks. With a little over 3,000 people who died it's easy to understand how a country of 300 million would be removed from knowing those directly touched by the tragedy. But all Americans will reach out in some way through actions, prayer, remembrances and empathize or sympathize with those who lost a family member or loved one.
There are those who will say the attacks have made us stronger as a country. Some will say the country has changed and torn us apart in some way. Both might be right, both might be wrong. That day has changed us, but we shouldn't judge or analyze what that day did to us as a country.
All I know is that in mid-morning on a sunny day in September, terrorists took over planes and flew them into three buildings while a fourth plane was prevented from doing the same thing by passengers who fought the hijackers.
And this weekend we remember those events and those who lost their lives.