Reliving 102 Minutes That Changed Everything

September 12, 2011

So I worked on a Peepshow post over the weekend…some trite crap that didn’t matter if anybody read it or not. It was in the can, ready to go…and then I woke up Sunday morning. And as I logged on to WordPress to faithfully upload some drivel about bad summer movies, my heart just wasn’t in it. I was enveloped in 9/11 coverage, as I’m sure almost everybody in the country was at some point or another in the last few days.

Like most of us, I have my own “I remember where I was” story. Nothing particularly interesting. It was a usual Tuesday morning. I was in my Uptown Minneapolis apartment getting ready for work, and like millions I watched the second plane fly into the South Tower live on “Today.” Minutes before, the oddly shaped hole carved out of the North Tower seemed like a random and bizarre accident. But as I watched the explosion that sent flames and smoke bellowing out the side of the second building, I just kind of had that sinking feeling that life as I knew it was over. And whatever was ahead was unpredictable and, of course, pretty damn scary.

A few weeks earlier, I was busy working on plans to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange with my then-client, Polaris. We were scheduled to be there on, of course, September 11. We wanted to do some crazy, stunty event event outside the NYSE to show New York’s financial district all the things the company’s ATVs, snowmobiles and motorcycles could do in a grand spectacle. Fortunately for us, those plans were nixed well in advance for some reason or another.

Sadly, a very different grand spectacle took place, and I’m obviously glad we weren’t there. But sometimes I imagine what it would have been like if I had, in fact, been only blocks from the most significant, impactful event of my first 27 (at the time) years.

WTC Memorial rendering

It sounds awful, but I loved waking up today and turning on the TV to relive the events of September 11 in real time 10 years later. Seeing the amount of footage and variety of perspectives collected and archived by the news media and everyday citizens is truly amazing. Experiencing so many scenes from so many viewpoints is at once exhilarating and nauseating. As I watch firefighters hauling hoses up dozens of stories, I find myself subconsciously thinking, “turn around and go back…it’s not going to work…hurry up and get the hell out.” As if it happened just yesterday. Because it often feels like it happened just yesterday.

Anyway, although we all know the story and what has transpired in the decade since, I think it’s critical — despite how utterly sad it is — to remind ourselves of those events. To consider the loss of human life as well as the loss of whatever innocence we may have unknowingly enjoyed the day before. It’s remarkable how the complexion of the nation, even the entire world, can change in an instant.

With all that in mind, rather than offer some stupid thoughts on stupid movies such as “The Hangover 2” or “Pirates of the Caribbean Part Way-Too-Many,” I decided I would rather share something worthwhile. Very worthwhile. If you haven’t seen “102 Minutes That Changed America,” I highly recommend taking some to watch. It was broadcast Sunday on several cable channels, and the interactive version on History.com paints a stunning and still-startling portrait of what was 9/11.

If you saw something incredible this weekend, or if you have an interesting story of your own to share, please do.