Ten years ago, I was a 25-year-old investigative reporter for the Hartford Advocate in Connecticut, still dating my college girlfriend and care-fucking-free. I walked into the office that glorious morning — coffee in hand, ready to do last-minute edits — when I noticed the receptionist’s computer screen: An image of the World Trade Center, burning.
“Is that The Onion?,” I asked, hoping it was. “Nope — CNN. A plane crashed into the building.” My first thought was how firefighters were going to get up there to put the fire out, and the lives lost on the plane. Minutes later, we learned a second plane crash occurred, and I was sent out onto the street to get reaction. I spent that whole day not seeing a single image from the attacks until about 8 p.m. that night, when I walked into a bar for a much-deserved pint and everyone’s eyes were glued to the television.
The stock footage rolled different angles of the planes striking the building over and over and over again. People jumping 100 stories to their death. Those iconic building crumbling to the ground. I’ve been in something of a post-9/11 fog ever since.
Man, how ten years can fly by. In the last ten years, a lot has happened in my life. Months after 9/11, I left my college girlfriend and met the woman I would marry two years later, only to divorce four years after that. I went from Hartford to New York, landing my dream job at MTV News, only to be laid off when the economy took a shit in 2008. But that led to work with Rolling Stone and others.
Since 2001, I have upped my “number” by more than 10. That’s an average of one chick per year — and I was also with my ex-fiancee for three of the last ten years! Man, a lot can happen in ten years. A lot. I have lost people, and seen others come into my life. My sister and brother-in-law brought us my wonderful niece. A lot of good has happened, along with a lot of bad.
To this day, I can’t deal with the fact that those Twin Towers are gone. I grew up traveling to my grandparents — who passed away within the last ten years — for visits and I was always awe-struck by the sheer size of those skyscrapers. Imagine the biggest landmark in the city you love most just one day is gone — ripped from you and that skyline you love.
Yes, today is a sad day, but it’s also looking like a beautiful one — just like that day ten years ago when we lost 3,000 and our collective innocence. I try to find silver linings. Like, a lot of solid records have come out in the last ten years! Like Alive or Just Breathing.
I never knew that Killswitch Engage’s “Life To Lifeless” was a response to 9/11 until today, and it makes sense. The lyrics say it all.
“Humanity cover me with the ashes of remembrance / I will learn from this pain,” Leach snarls at the outset of the tune, which appears on “Alive of Just Breathing,” the band’s breakout 2002 disc. “There is no darkness without light to teach us of ourselves.”
Jesse Leach, the writer of those words and our buddy, tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the song was an attempt to put into words the feelings he was struggling to articulate.
“It was just really not knowing what to think when it happened. I found myself in a state of disbelief, like many people, I’m sure,” recalls Leach. “It was the idea of, ‘How do we as a people move forward from such a tragedy?’ It was just seeing it as the cycle of life and something that you have to learn how to deal with because there’s nothing you can do to change it. It was a very innocent reaction of sadness and contemplation.”
Here is that song, which rules.
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