The visual horror that invaded our television screens on Sept. 11, and the agonizing days that followed, left us in disbelieving shock. The senseless tragedy and the sheer madness of it all generated an outpouring of sorrow and compassion for our American relatives, friends and colleagues, and forged an angry determination to stop terrorism. It seemed like life would never be quite the same again. Our complacence was shattered.
On the fourth day, Sept. 14, while saying a silent prayer with my wife at a neighbourhood church, a phrase, a quote, popped into my troubled brain and stuck there — “Something wicked this way comes.” I remembered a 1983 feature film by that name that was based on a Ray Bradbury novel and starred Jason Robards Jr., but, except that it was a horror movie, there seemed to be no other relevance to the catastrophic events of Black Tuesday. I thought the phrase sounded like something from Shakespeare, and a check in my Dictionary of Quotations placed it in the mouth of one of the three witches in Macbeth. “Something wicked this way comes,” the witch utters as Macbeth, now a murderer, approaches.
Horror and murder. No wonder the phrase stuck in my head, I reasoned finally. For that is what the terrorists wreaked on an unsuspecting America, and that wickedness came gushing through our television sets to assault our naive sensibilities. “Enough!” I cried at one point and turned off the TV. But I, like most of us, couldn’t get enough. The horror was somehow compelling us to watch, perhaps because we needed to know, because we needed to be there. If innocent people were dying, how could we avert our eyes?
The wickedness was brought into our homes by unrelenting coverage on virtually every TV channel. ENG cameras were everywhere, capturing the hijacked planes as they struck the World Trade Center towers and focusing through the smoke and dust at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. There may be no medals of heroism for the videographers at the “front,” but they brought us the live reality of war like at no time before in our history. The images were horrifying but spectacular, and we congratulate and thank the camerapersons for their skill, daring, and the emotional strength it must have taken to work through their own tears. They were the messengers of tragedy, but their pictures were also the foundation of our resolve.
“Something wicked this way comes.” Never again, we pray.
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