Ben's Babbles: 9/11

September 10, 2011

I still remember exactly where I was the moment I found out the world changed.

Driving to school in the second week of my senior year of high school, I turned the radio on to the same channel my brother and I listened to every morning.

On this day instead of alternative rock, the airwaves had a morning DJ trying to make sense of the terror unfolding in New York and Washington.

We got to school and went in to class.

My first period was marching band.

We heard that a plane had gone down in the Pittsburgh suburbs with massive loss of life on the ground and that the state department had been bombed. On a day filled with unimaginable tragedy already thankfully neither of those two stories turned out to be true. Instead of sitting around watching the TV, we went outside and practiced our routine for the next 50 minutes.

Then we came back inside and went to our next classes, where we did sit around and did nothing but watch the television as the World Trade Center towers came down.

In the following days, life became surreal.

Every professional sporting event across the country was canceled.

The marching band had been preparing to join other marching bands from around the state at Husky Stadium in Seattle for a high school band day, where we would perform classic rock songs like "Smoke on the Water" at halftime.

Those songs were scrapped in favor of a patriotic medley featuring "Proud to be an American" and "God Bless the USA."

After graduation many of my friends entered the military. Unlike just a year prior when entering the military was a good way to get some life skills and get money for college and prepare for wars you hoped never came, this time they were entering knowing that in all likelihood they were heading into harm's way.

That winter I went out and visited colleges (my first experience with post-9/11 airport security), and still remember sitting in a host's living room in Steubenville, Ohio, as U2 played inarguably the most mesmerizing Super Bowl halftime show ever, as the names of those lost on Sept. 11 scrolled in two columns above the stage to the refrain of "Beautiful Day."

Instead of being loaded up with the jingoism typical of the NFL, the performance was an invitation to heal, and we all needed it.

A few months before, just days after the attacks when airplanes were still grounded, my marching band was again out on the high school football field.

We sat under the main flight path in and out of SeaTac airport, so the sound of planes flying over was routine. But on that evening there were none. The silence in the skies was unnerving. There was terror in the silence. My ears strained for the sound of a plane, hoping for some normalcy.

It's not a feeling I ever want to have again.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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