COLUMN: Silence and absence punctuate 9-11

Wright Turn

I awoke to the phone ringing.

I stumbled out of bed and grumbled a weary hello. It was my boss.

This was nothing out of the ordinary – my boss, the publisher of the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle, had a police scanner at home and routinely called at all hours to alert me to emergencies (car crashes, house fires) she knew I’d want to cover.

But I knew immediately this call was different.

Instead of giving me an address, she simply told me to turn on my TV.

I don’t recall if I even asked why. I knew something was obviously, horribly amiss. I just did as I was told.

And watched in awe and horror and disgust and confusion as events unfolded.

I recall going to work later in the morning, but I don’t think I got much done. Everyone I talked to was too distracted to discuss whatever minutia was making news in our little corner of the world.

To be honest, my day-to-day life changed little as a result of 9-11.

But I recall talking to many, many people in the following days and weeks whose lives did change significantly, and to others about how they expected things to change further.

My most vivid recollection from 9-11 is of silence and absence.

For several days following the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedies, an eerie pall was cast over Ladysmith. It was noticeably quieter in our normally quiet community.

Even the birds seemed to respect the sombre mood cast across the world.

Looking up – I recall looking up a lot those few days – the con trails from jetliners and the buzz of smaller planes approaching Nanaimo Airport were conspicuously missing.

I think it was trepidation I felt upon seeing another plane overhead.

Much has happened in the ensuing 10 years. And the world has changed tremendously as a result of 9-11.

People have studied and pored over the events and attempted to learn how to prevent such instances from being repeated. Wars were fought and many died.

Security requirements were ramped up. Debates, both official government discussions and informal sidewalk talk, erupted over who was actually behind the attacks. Conspiracy theories abound.

My own opinion of the events and government policies that contributed and culminated in the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as those that followed, is now much better informed.

My skepticism and my distaste for obviously corrupt politics (across the globe) has grown tremendously as I’ve matured and learned over the past decade.

Regardless of opinions on politics or the policies and developments that followed 9-11, it’s necessary, at least for a short time, to put all that aside and simply pay tribute to the people who died that day.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, I will wake up early and listen for the quiet. I will remember again the vivid silence I heard and absence I felt 10 years ago. I will be pleased if neither are present other than in my memory.

***

Women’s events that shun male supporters continue to baffle me.

It’s not intended, I’m certain, but I take the exclusion as a personal affront – I don’t appreciate being told that since some men are violent and abusive, those of us who are not aren’t welcome to join women in voicing our opposition to such behaviour.

The generalization is offensive.

I am a male and proud of it.

I’m also proud that the majority of people who happen to share my gender are supportive of the females in their lives and strive for a safe, non-violent environment for all women (and men).

Shunning so many supporters simply sends the wrong message – that men can’t be trusted in the company of women.

True, some can’t. But what of the rest of us?

editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Nanaimo artist Dave Stevens is displaying paintings inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library from now until the end of fall. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo writer and artist’s work goes up at Harbourfront library

Dave Stevens presents work inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read