I drove up to the Broward County courthouse early in the morning for a routine bond hearing. We ended up waiting most of the morning and never did start the hearing. Our Judge was Peter Weinstein, one of the better judges in Broward County and usually also one of the most punctual judges. But Judge Weinstein did not take the bench that morning. Every few minutes, his bailiff appeared from a side door and whispered to the Clerks and BSO Court Deputies, while the growing crowd in the courtroom milled around in its own impatience. Without TVs and radios, we soon found out the awful through the old-fashioned courtroom grapevine: our country had been attacked.
The date was September 11, 2001, and the world would never be the same again. Hard to believe it all happened 18 years ago. My daughter not even alive then, not even a hint of her existence. Those of us who lived through the day will never forget it, huddled with others around a T.V. watching scenes that could have been lifted from a horror movie. It inspired fear and fury, emotions that have come to define the era after the attack. Somehow we managed to survive the tragedy without blowing up the rest of the world but the option always hovers over us.
While in law school in New York, I used to go to the World Trade Center for pro bono representation of unemployment compensation applicants in administrative hearings. We had our “Barrister’s Ball” in the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the North Tower. Traveling up the elevators (you had to switch to a new elevator bank about halfway up) felt like moving into another world, and the view from the top confirmed the belief. One of my law school classmates made a fortune in the private equities market and celebrated his good fortune by moving his business into an office in the world above the clouds. Needless to say, his good fortune turned ironic on September 11, as he experienced the attack from his office window and never made it home from work.
The world changes and the world moves on through its changes. People change too, but some of the changes we all share, and the September 11 experience is the biggest shared change of my lifetime. The only thing coming close was the JFK assassination, and, while I remember it, I was only six years when it happened. I hope not to live through another shared change the magnitude of either.