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Archive for sirens

sirens: a 9/11 story

< by JHK >

For 15 years, sirens meant very little to me.

They meant that dad had to pull the car to the side of the road, or that mom was watching E.R.  Somewhere, buried in my consciousness, sirens meant that someone needed help.

On September 11, 2001, I truly heard sirens for the first time.

It was morning. I sat in the basement in front of a Gateway PC. I double-clicked the AOL icon and entered ­ajillity86 and my password, dietcoke. The connection failed. I tried again and again. All lines are busy. Please try again later.

I remember every pitch and squeak of the dial-up.

I turned on the radio and punched in 101.3, the top-40 station. No music. No voices. Just an emergency tone, blaring on and off.

I went up to the kitchen and turned on the small, white TV with tarnished buttons. A reporter leaned into the camera, talking frantically. Then, the screen blacked out, and a new shot appeared. In it, a plane hovered low over the New York City skyline, gliding steadily until it landed inside a skyscraper. Everything fell down and blew up.

At first my ears switched off. I felt quiet and still, as if underwater. Then, they opened wide and sirens poured in, muting the voices and the chaos. The sirens continued for weeks, whining and pleading for my attention.

So I listened up. Within the sirens, I heard a call — a call to consider that every siren announces the frailty of life and thus the urgency of living at peace with others.

_ _ _

Where were you on 9/11? What was your first reaction?