The phone call came at about 1 p.m. on Sept. 11. The individual demanded that a correction be printed because we had failed to identify a USF professor who was in the background of a front-page photo.
“Have you turned on the news today?” I asked, assuming that anyone complaining of something so petty had not yet seen the people jumping to their deaths from the windows of the World Trade Center; had not yet witnessed the Godzilla-esque scene of the terrified people running away from the foundering Twin Towers; had not yet heard about the airplane that had breached the epidermis of the Pentagon and in the same breath left our national security vulnerable to infection; had not considered that Sept. 11, as grave as it may sound, could be the day by which all other days in American’s lives will be judged.
There was a momentary silence on the other end and then, “Yes, I have seen the news, but this is a distinguished professor at this university that you failed to mention in your caption,” he said.
Before I hung up on the man, I said, “Thank you,” only because hanging up without saying anything would be unprofessional, and as anger and confusion built within me, those two words came to mind first.
Looking back on that long and dreadful day and on that short and disappointing phone call, when will the seemingly insignificant parts of life become significant again? I think back to returning to class two days after the attacks.
Getting good grades has always been a priority of mine, and doing well in school still is, but how relevant is my psycho-pharmacology class when no remedying drug can be administered to the sick and grotesque brain of a terrorist? How relevant is my leadership class when the leadership tactics of Osama bin Laden could never be adequately justified? How relevant is my American history class when, as each day passes, my textbook needs to be amended?
Yet, we move on because we are told that if we do not attempt to return to a state of normalcy, we will have sent a message to the terrorists that they have succeeded.
Hey, guess what? They did. They rocked our very existence. But that doesn’t mean we can’t overcome them. I believe we will, and I look forward to the day when the small things will once again be a big part of our lives. I can see a day when we’ll turn on the TV and the words of Tom Brokaw will take a backseat to the antics of Tom Green. Or maybe a Sunday made memorable not by a new case of anthrax but by Tiger Woods or a great football game.
That is, of course, a long way off, but how sweet life will be when Americans return to being Americans. The media has been criticized of being sensationalistic, as a multitude of networks offer daylong coverage and most newspapers dedicate a good portion of their space to the current anthrax outbreak and our military movements in Afghanistan.
But as far as I’m concerned, there is nothing more important, and without the guidance of the media providing facts, Americans would be terribly lost in a chaotic sea of myths.
But, nevertheless, if you are someone who subscribes to the theory that the media only worsens our situation, and you feel that the mundane should receive front-page coverage, call me and let me know how you feel. I’ll be sure to thank you.
- Ryan Meehan is The Oracle news firstname.lastname@example.org