Vail Daly columnist Richard Carnes: A day that started like any other |

Vail Daly columnist Richard Carnes: A day that started like any other

It began like every other Tuesday over the last dozen years.

With boys in the fourth and eighth grades, and another in diapers, the September morning was filled with the usual search for clothes, choices for breakfast, choices for lunch, the brushing of teeth, the finding of homework and finally the slamming of the front door as two out of three left for school.

With the 2-year-old still in bed, I strolled outside to grab a copy of the Daily, cringing with anticipation to see just how much “editing” had been done to my column that week (something I still do, by the way, only online).

“Good Morning America” was blaring away as I plopped down on the couch to wince at the literary chopping while enjoying my coffee, when suddenly — thanks to East Coast tape delay — Charlie Gibson interrupted himself with an important news bulletin. It was four solid hours before I ever left the couch again.

A cacophony of emotional stages was continually expressed during that time, all falling into a sweeping range of highs and lows. From stunned silence to screaming rage to tear-filled sorrow, my brain and heart combined to cover all the bases a human can possibly express within a few short hours.

The collapse of the first tower was perhaps my weakest moment, as I remember repeatedly shouting, “No-no-no-no-NO-NO-NO!” while the smoke-filled crumbling began, the core of my being in complete denial of what my eyes were witnessing.

Yet, obviously, none of my outburst had any effect on the outcome. Thousands dead, all innocent, millions affected, all shocked, and all because of beliefs in a supernatural world that has never been able to show even one atom of proof for its own existence.

If one were to believe in such ancient absurdities, at least theoretically, imagine how astonishingly pathetic a deity must be who would require its followers to murder innocents for the glory of itself.

But that was beside the point on Sept. 11, 2001, as all I cared about by late that morning was my wife, my children, my family, friends, neighbors, countrymen and anyone else I could conceivably show compassion toward.

Like most of you, I was a complete mess.

The afternoon and well into late evening was spent back on the same couch, mesmerized by the repeated videos showing the planes as they were swallowed whole by those magnificent manmade structures, the inevitable explosions, the innocents scrambling and leaping for their lives, the eventual collapse of both towers, and of course dreadful views of the Pentagon and a scorched field in Pennsylvania.

In just a few days we will commemorate the 10 years since that horrific morning, media outlets putting the pedal to the emotion metal that drives our heartstrings, and a guaranteed fresh round of politicizing of the tragedy to prove which side deserves more blame-credit for the entire ordeal.

What I do know is that we’ve learned lessons as a nation and a species, but there is a never-ending supply out there to continue pursuing. My pride as an American is the same as it was on Sept. 10 of that year, and has not ebbed or waned in the slightest.

Bad things will continue to happen to good people, as will all possible combinations of that particular cliche, but this Sunday I plan to hug my family members just a tad tighter than normal.

I hope each of you can do the same.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes weekly. He can be reached at

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