We walked into our space on Bland St. (All my life, I never thought I’d have an address on “Bland St.”)

Our offices were upstairs, with a beautiful view of the skyline of Charlotte. It was a glorious day – blue skies, cool, crisp air. A near-perfect autumn day.

I logged into AOL. (Remember when most Americans logged into AOL?) The top image was a huge plume of smoke billowing from one of the World Trade Center towers. “A plane has hit the World Trade Center,” I said to Aprill. We plugged in a small black-and-white television and by the time it came on, there was a second plume, from the second tower.

The world changed. It was a new world.

It was one of those events – you know what I’m talking about, the “where were you” events. In my life, there have been four. The first was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I was barely two, and do not remember it. The second, the assassination of Martin Luther King, I remember vaguely. My only real memory of it is sitting on a love seat with my brother and sister wondering if the rioting I saw in the streets on television was in our town or in some place far away.

The third was the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. I was in George Boilard’s office, going over some mechanical artwork that needed to be sent to the printer that day. Rose Sausville came in and said, “the space shuttle exploded.” We went to the conference room (the pre-internet days) and watched the coverage.

The fourth was September 11, 2001.

I don’t think about them every day. But when I do, I hope and pray that I can live my life without a fifth, or a sixth, or a seventh.

But I am an optipessimist. I hope for the best, but doubt that it’ll do any good. And I pray that somehow, the thoughts of chaos, violence or destruction in the mind of the someone, somewhere planning the fifth “where were you” event of my lifetime can be swayed. And that reason will somehow prevail.

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