Monday, September 04, 2006

Sept. 11 Anniversary

And here we go, the journalistic "Bolero" act begins, the rising crescendo of news and feature coverage that will thunder to a climax on Monday, September 11, 2006.

This is the five-year anniversary of the attacks. Which means, in journalistic terms, it is a Big Anniversary. One year was a Big Anniversary. Ten and 20 and 25 will be Big Anniversaries. Then at 40 and 50, we'll be searching for survivors of the immediate experience. By 75 it will be only a handful who remember it at all. By 100 it will be history.

Fine, we have a base 10 fixation from having 10 fingers, or whatever. The journalism juggernaut rolls on to its own reckless gravity.

But Sept. 11 does not fit into this. The cycle of Big Anniversaries is false to its reality. This year won't feel like a Big Anniversary of Sept. 11 to me.

Because the "Tuesday" is as much a part of 9-11 as the date or the month. It was a workday. The people who died almost entirely died at their jobs, or commuting on work-related matters. And every workday is different, both in the grand sense -- Tuesday has a different psyche than Monday or Thursday -- and in the small sense of personal rituals and rhythms.

Tuesday is the day I go up on the parking garage roof after work with a couple of buddies and drink a few beers and hash things out out of sight of the owners. What I routinely do on Tuesday is not what I do on Monday. It likely so for you. It was so for most of those who died.

Some Tuesday peculiarity in the week's schedule -- a child's recurring morning piano lesson or a regular sales team meeting -- might have put someone in Death's path that day, or pulled someone else from it.

On one level, the terror attack was a convergence of schedules: Airline tables of weekday business flight hops from city to city, traders on their phones to clients with deadlines, Windows on the World restaurant workers shifting from breakfast to lunch menus.

Based on our calendar, a returning date falls on the same day of the week usually every six years (seven days in a week, but one leap year every four years means a skipped day). Next year, when Sept. 11 again falls on a Tuesday for the first time, will feel much closer to a connected anniversary.