There's so many different reactions to 9/11 - especially in New York City. I saw it all happen filtered through the banality of television personalities with so little education or awareness that they could provide no context for what was happening whatsoever. They'd just repeat themselves in their smug robot voices and express disbelief. Apparently local NYC media showed images of people jumping from the buildings as well as injured (and killed) victims, which a few hundred miles away all I saw was aerial video and talking heads. So I was detached from the human tragedy. It was not unlike watching video from the "shock and awe" bombing of Iraq - it may as well have been blockbuster action pablum.
Maybe it was just the people who surrounded me out there in the rust belt, but I was immediately deluged with the flag-waving, pin-wearing, other-people's-kids-soldiers-sending "patriotic" reaction to September 11. It was an abstract attack on America - and the media did nothing to dissuade that crassly superficial understanding of what had happened. Luckily I moved away and cut back on television news (really - how much can one swear at the box?)
In NYC you'll obviously find more of a range of reactions. People who were in the city had actual experiences instead of mediated experiences and I defer to them completely. The apparent poodle-loving conspiracy theorist? Sure. We've all read enough to know there's more to September 11 than what George Bush talks about, but while I keep my conspiracy to an agnostic "I don't disbelieve it" place, the emotional impact NYer's experienced makes it all that more real.
I can't imagine what it would have been like to be in the city when it was dragged to it's knees. It's such a vital, thriving place. Like a suit breaking down in tears it's just hard to imagine. In some ways I'll always feel like a guest here - like I don't quite get the family history. But it's a warm and welcoming family, and like a good guest I try to be respectful.