16 years ago, I had returned from an early-morning 5 a.m. walk in San Diego County. I had injured my knee in a football game and doc told me to walk only. I was sitting in my garage watching the morning news, doing some basic PT, when the first news flashed on-screen.

Like everyone else, I sat there horrified, shocked. At first, there was the initial reporting saying a plane crashed into one of the Twin Towers, it might be an accident.
As I sat there mortified, a fellow Green Beret called: “Tilt, can you believe this shit?”
I didn’t answer quickly enough for him, “Are you there, Tilt? Turn on your fucking TV. You won’t believe this shit.”

I told him I was in the garage and yes I was watching the TV. He and I had drank a couple of beers over the weekend, he knew where the TV was, and asked, “Did you see the footage of that plane crashing into the Tower?

“Those fuckers at CNN are trying to suggest this might be an accident, or the pilot might have gotten confused or some such bullshit. Are you fucking nuts! An accident!? Hell man, we’re under attack!! What will they hit next?! Now we know how those sailors and Marines felt at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, (1941). We are under attack, make no mistake about it.”

He called back when the second plane hit and he called right away after the Pentagon was hit. “See, what did I tell you? If you don’t think we’re under attack your head’s up your ass so far you can see your tonsils.”

By then my wife was on the phone, calling all of our children, particularly the two living in San Francisco. After reaching them, she called our oldest son’s college and asked: “Do you see what’s happening in New York and Washington, D.C?”  And before the startled secretary could answer her, my wife asked with added emphasis: “Have you closed down your college today? If not, why? We’re under attack and San Fran has high visibility and is ripe for attack.”

The secretary and college staff were a little slow in responding to her. She called back and demanded to talk the college president, again mentioning that the City on the Hill was a target of high visibility. They shut down his college before noon that day.

By now the airliner had crashed in Shanksville, PA. My SF buddy called again, now in full voice while news commentators equivocated on what caused the crash: “This crash isn’t by coincidence. Mark my fucking words, this crash is related to all of these attacks somehow. What were they going to hit next? The White House? The Washington Monument?…what kind of cowardly bastards would kill hundreds of people like this?”

Then I had a dichotomic moment: The Green Beret side of my mind was screaming with my good friend, who was still doing government contract work and couldn’t be named, while the other side of my mind – the reporter/editor side was screaming: “Give me confirmation. Give me facts. Opinions here are worthless.” Yup, it appears like a terrorist attack beyond all historic proportion, and, after going into work, sitting at my desk struggling to put out a daily local newspaper, the SF side of my personality wanted to grab my CAR-15 and go kill some terrorists, while the editor side of mind waited for more facts to unfold. It was a painful day at many levels, a day that will haunt me to my grave.

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