Sunday, September 07, 2014

Previewing 9/10: The Final Hours

Everyone remembers where they were on September 11, 2001, we have all told the story and herd others over the past twelve anniversaries from the first responders to people who were supposed to be in the World Trade Center that day before fate intervened and have even heard President George W. Bush tell his tale of that fateful day. But here is a question that is a little harder: where were you on September 10, the day before our way of life changed? For me and I am guessing many others it was just like September 9, and 8 and many other days that preceded it.

One of the commenters for National Geographic Channel's 9/10: The Finals Hours describes the twenty months after the Y2K scare a "blissful ignorance." Really we lived in a world of blissful ignorance since the fall of communism with the occasional irrational panic over silly things like Y2K. The special features interviews with many New Yorkers talking about the calm before the storm and even finds some people in Portland, Maine who came into contact with suspected ringleader Mohammad Atta on his last day on Earth (his last meal: a vegetarian pizza).

Some of the people interviewed includes a bartender who worked on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center,a New York City newscaster (the big new on 9/10: all the rain that day) Mayoral candidate Mark Green (primaries were supposed to be held the next day), artists who worked on the 91st and 92nd floors, an NYU student who bought her first video camera that days and ended up using very frequently over the next 24 hours, and many others. As many of the interviews focus on the mundane and foreshadows the event to come it is interesting that the biggest event in New York City that night, Michael Jackson's all star tribute at Madison Square Garden is barely mentioned.

As the thirteenth anniversary approaches it is interesting to look back at the time before 9/11 and how hard it is to remember as it has turned into a dark and fading memory. Of course the special does not stay entirely on that Monday in September as all those New Yorkers eventually tell they stories on where they were when the towers fell, including a couple who just missed being in the buildings when the planes hit. But the first half of the special is just as powerful as we lived those last couple hours of blissful ignorance.

9/10: The Final Hours premieres tonight at 8:00 on the National Geographic Channel.