Like a lot of dads, I have made a lot of videos of my daughter growing up.
Some capture her as just a baby. When I look at them — and I did a lot when she started college last year — I just wanted to freeze the moment when she was playing on swings and making a mess of herself eating spaghetti.
Some images just do that to you. They make you want to stop the tape, hold the moment and not see time move forward.
I had the same feeling watching these latest images from the early morning of Sept. 11 2001: The five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77 being screened at Washington's Dulles Airport. Four of them are pulled aside, but later continue on their way.
You feel like screaming: “Stop them! They're going to murder people!” Later they do: Ramming that plane into the Pentagon, killing the plane's 47 passengers, six crew members, themselves and 125 Pentagon employees.
But for one moment, we're shown the calm before the storm. Desperately hoping we could keep the calm and lose the storm. Just like the image of Mohammed Atta, frozen in time, going through a Portland airport security checkpoint to his own World Trade Center date with destiny and death.
When these images were taken, Sept. 11 was still just a date. We were a lot more naive, a lot more innocent. Images in time are images only for that time.
Just like these of the Titanic shipping off nearly a century ago. It was man's greatest achievement and unsinkable. Unthinkable, days before one of history's greatest disasters. You feel like warning those passengers and crewmembers: “Get off the ship! Now!”
Just like you feel like screaming to the guy driving JFK's car into Dealy Plaza that bright afternoon in Dallas: “Don't make that turn!” But he does make that turn into horror and into history.
Frozen images frozen in time: The good and the innocent, before the bad and the horrible.
We know things change. We'd just rather they not. It's why dads hang onto videos of their kids when they were small and we still cling to images from history when we were safe as if they'll last forever. Even while we know, deep inside, they do not.
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