I watched the "United 93" DVD tonight. I know a lot of people have said they didn't and don't plan to see it, don't need to see it because they're not likely to forget the events of 9/11/2001. Understood. And I agree, no one will ever forget the surreal horror of that day.
I've seen the news programs, the documentaries, some of the anniversary pieces in the five years post-9/11. The terror the victims experienced -- in the air, in the buildings, on the ground -- is something so huge that it's barely comprehensible and I've tried to not let myself dwell too much on it. Strangely, however, I'd never really given much thought to the perspectives of those who went through that day and its aftermath in a hands-on, emergent capacity but who were neither victims nor the heroic rescue workers. This film really hammered that point home.
I never before, for example, comprehended the complete and utter chaos and sense of helplessness in the air traffic control centers on that day. It was a never before seen situation, the magnitude of which no one in their right mind could have ever foreseen. How do you coordinate with your peers, much less manage, a nightmare situation so far beyond one's experience?
I also hadn't realized how badly the military dropped the ball, the extent of the unpreparedness. Those in command who appreciated the critical nature of the emerging situation weren't able to obtain the support they needed in time to take any defensive action. At one point, all the military had at its disposal to try and protect the entire rest of the East Coast were two unarmed jets. By the time any resources were available and the requisite orders given, the Twin Towers and the Pentagon had been hit and United 93 had already gone down in Pennsylvania.
September 11, 2001, was a hellish scenario no one had anticipated. No one was prepared for the unimaginable scope of it. Now we are. Aren't we? We had better be.