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A Perspectives Special: The Bay Area Remembers 9/11
Perspectives issued a call to KQED's Bay Area community to submit essays about the impact of 9/11 on individual lives, neighborhoods and broader communities in our region - and Bay Area residents responded. In this half-hour special produced by Perspectives editor Mark Trautwein, we feature some of this week's two-minute commentaries, plus additional essays.
For Amanda Enayati, the experience of 9/11 couldn't have been more shocking. A columnist and blogger now living in the Bay Area, she lived in Lower Manhattan on 9/11, blocks from the World Trade Center. She heard the first plane hit the north tower. She saw the second plane hit the south tower. And for her and her family, it was time to flee or fight.
If 9/11 was unlike any other day, it also was just like any other day. Life and death struggles weren't just waged on the East Coast, but on streets across America. Adam Barde is now a director at UCSF medical center. While the rest of the country dealt with terror on home soil, his family fought a terrifying personal battle inseparable from his experience of 9/11.
Two weeks after 9/11, KQED aired a Perspective by a young Berkeley grad. She recognized that moment as especially pregnant, when we had choices about who we are and what we want to be. What kind of history would we write? Now a senior writer at Fortune Magazine, Jessi Hempel called this "The Moment Between." This is her Perspective, originally aired September 25, 2001.
Immediately after 9/11 we had powerful symbols to emulate, especially the firefighters of New York City. Their courage and sacrifice lived not just in them as individuals, but collectively in them as family -- the kind of family we wanted to be. Rich Collins is a fire captain in the North Bay, and to him family is what defines firefighters -- not only on iconic days like 9/11, but every single day.
Rev. Matthew Lawrence
Fear is a basic instinct that keeps us alive. But it can also lie to us, making us see things that aren't there. However you choose to cut it, fear was at the heart of our 9/11 story. The Rev. Matthew Lawrence is an Episcopal priest in Santa Rosa. He knows about fear. As a child he knew where and what it was. Then on 9/11, he saw it again.
Fear can make perfect sense, but it can also make us hate. And the point of terrorism, after all, works in the expectation that we will do to ourselves what others cannot do to us. Peter Ferenbach experienced it almost immediately after 9/11. As director of a prominent California peace organization, he was surprised to find some of that fear directed not at murderous criminals, but at him.
While it's fair to say a redeeming virtue of America is a willingness to overcome, the aftermath of 9/11 is evidence we always will have more to overcome. Fear is a persistent monster. Jaya Padmanabhan is a South Bay writer. She's also a native Indian and her skin is dark. That was all, she discovered after 9/11, for many people to fear her, by finding religion in her face.
While 9/11 terrorized, it also deepened appreciation of the ordinaries of life common to us all. Shortly after 9/11, Les Bloch was in the parking lot of a construction supply store. He's a Danville stonemason and project manager, so it was an ordinary place for him to be. What happened there was a small thing, but it brought two strangers together for a moment that didn't seem small at all.
Most people think of history as an agreed set of facts. But history never sits still. Ten years later is embryonic history, so the story of 9/11 is still being written. We are still in a kind of historical moment between, wrestling with choices that will write the story to come. That's what Jolie Kanat, a Marin County business manager, thought about when she considered how to remember 9/11.