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The Day The Earth Stood Still

At 3:00 pm (9:00 am Eastern), I went into my boss' office. He was reading the web page of the Tagesschau, the ARD TV news broadcast. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I tried to find information on the web, but all news sites, American, German and otherwise, were jammed. I finally saw a first picture at Focus, and the first posts at Scripting News. We set up a TV room to show the news broadcasts. Mama called from her car. She had caught the tail end of a news report on the radio, and couldn't believe what she thought she had heard.

I decided to leave work early, even though I had started late. Outside the rain was a deluge, the gutters were flooding, traffic was slow. NDR4 radio was reporting what they could see on TV, what the correspondent in NY could see out the window, the towers were collapsing, debate in the Bundestag was cancelled, members of parliament were milling together with visitors in the lobby watching the news broadcasts.

Mama was home, the television offered pictures but no new information. Christopher was hyperactive, totally beside himself, as if he were breathing the tension in the air. Our satellite dish is on the fritz, can't get CNN at all, have to rely on the main stations. Chancellor Schröder spoke of 'unqualified solidarity' with the US, which made me feel reassured. Otherwise I just feel numb. I miss an eloqent President, who can express what I and the nation must feel, but cannot put into words.

Mama shed some tears. Perhaps she had started to fathom what has happened. I haven't. Not yet.

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