Editor’s Note: The essay below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.
Ryan Allen Busby is a giving and thoughtful 21-year-old who is eager to explore the world. Ryan was born in Frankton, Indiana, and today attends Ball State University in Muncie, where he studies accounting. He works part-time at his parents’ shop, Good’s Donuts. Ryan has traveled throughout the United States, along with Brazil. In the future, he hopes to work internationally. He was in class when he first heard hijacked planes had struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He wrote his essay Sept. 20. It is titled, “Ruby Blood Red Tuesday.”
The world can change in one day. I don’t even remember the world before Tuesday, September 11, 2001. What were the newspaper headlines? Barry Bonds chasing the home run record, or some tennis player that didn’t quite make it. Michael Jordan coming back to the NBA. Lots of advertising. Materialism. The physical. Superficiality. Cynicism. That’s what made headlines in that world before. The deficiency of vigilance pervaded during the last few years. We’re all focused on some young superstar singer, and jaded by the MTV world. Stem cells and some political sex scandal were somewhere in our minds. The indulgence of pleasure impregnated our visions. News? It’s all recycled over and over again. We re-imagine movies. Athletes re-play their games. Comebacks are inevitable. And then suddenly, our security has been obliterated.
Come Tuesday morning. Ruby blood red Tuesday. September 11, 2001. A new day that will live in infamy. Suddenly, we have continuing coverage. Network TV without commercials. We’re thoughtful and virtuous. We’ve come together. Unified. All focused on a catastrophe. A human response. An instinct. Our blood is interconnected with the world. We are synthesized. New heroes aren’t rich ballplayers or celebrities, but the working class. We sacrifice our lives in the horrific face of evil. Buildings topple all about us. Airplanes crash. We are overtaken by monsters. Caught off guard and run over. We think, maybe that first collision was accidental. Only minutes later, we recognize the intent. In that surreal image, as another blackened plane enters from the left side of the TV screen and blasts into the building, the world has been forever and eternally altered. Mutated. See, that should not have occurred, we infer. We must have been targeted! Something is so wrong! Oh God, no! All that is left to utter is: Oh My God. Three words that signalize the everlasting alteration of society. Oh My God. What was once envisioned impossible has now become the actual. Real. Surreal and movie-like, but all too true. One day, one narrow morning was all the time requested for evil to rise above us. Masqueraded by cowards.
This attack was an outrage. I will always remember looking on to the television at the images. Stunned, speechless, and in total disbelief. The thousands of innocent people that lay dead. When I think of this a tear comes to my eyes. How could anyone be so cowardly, so selfish, so unconcerned for innocent human life? I keep repeating the images in my head; they are permanently installed for the rest of my life. People jumping from 80+ stories, the buildings crumbling down, and the airplanes ripping into the side of the buildings. I cannot let it go so it can start to fade away.
My heart reaches out to everyone that was affected by this. This is truly the most awful thing I have ever seen in my life. Infamy to carnage. Our security has been manipulated by evil. No longer is society the same after that day of incident. What is yet to come? Where can I instill my faith? How will national distrust proliferate? Who will be susceptible? When will it occur next? The black birds circle above me in uniformity. Their patterns evade me. They caw like madmen. Landing on random trees, dropping their excrement on guiltless victims. In the backdrop of the deep evening sky, as wisps of white sail by overhead, and sunlight highlights green trees, a shadow inches slowly over the foliage. The fluttering American flag, spread-eagled to infinity, eclipses the sky. The carpet of colors remains above, protecting us from the world beyond. Life as we know it will never be the same. Arm that bloody musket with bullets, that machete, that machine gun. They made me a patriot. Don’t self-destruct, America our lady. God is in the house, and I mourn with the rest of the world.