I don’t know
An article about my friend Doug has appeared in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Douglas D. Ketcham’s last known phone call was to his parents in Florida.
He was in his Cantor Fitzgerald office on the 104th floor of One World Trade Center when the first plane hit several floors below him.
“He called his mother just after and said there had been a terrible explosion, and to tell them that he loved them,” said his friend, John Riley. “He called from underneath his desk.”
After Ketcham said those words, the connection went dead. No one has heard from him since, and he is missing.
Ketcham, 27, grew up in Midlothian. His parents, Dennis and Bobbie Ketcham, moved to Florida this year.
He graduated from Midlothian High School and the University of Virginia. He went to work as a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald after college.
“He loved New York,” Riley said. “He was very sharp, very bright. He loved to be around people.”
His circle of friends was huge. He visited his buddies in the Richmond area a couple of times a year, and they went to see him regularly in New York.
“When I put together an e-mail list of friends I think I counted 50 names,” Riley said. Each of them probably forwarded the bad news about Doug to many, many other friends.
“Doug was a friend to everybody and had a quick sense of humor,” Riley said yesterday. “He was a Christian and just stood for everything that was good. He was a gentleman.”
The article contains stories on many other people as well.
I’m not feeling as personally decimated as I was yesterday. I finally talked with my mom about what I was feeling, and she helped restore a small bit of rationality. After all, it’s not like I was in one of the buildings. It’s not like I was ever in any physical danger personally. Not that my feelings aren’t valid, but — well, my fear was starting to become amorphous and overwhelming. Talking with my mom helped it become more manageable. She told me I’m getting way too immersed in the coverage. She told me I need to see my friends again. I already knew that, but she’s right.
And so I’m going home today. Tonight I’m going to hang out with CanadaGirl, presumably in Manhattan. I need to be normal again.
And then on Monday I’m coming back here to my parents’ house for two days because it’s going to be Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year. I don’t know quite what to expect from the holiday this year. But it will be nice for our congregation to come together and listen to the rabbi’s words. It’s something we’re going to need.
My dad finally got home at almost 2:00 this morning. His company chartered his colleagues a small Lear jet. They flew from San Francisco to Allentown, PA, and then took a van home from there. My dad and I had one of the biggest, longest, strongest hugs we’d ever had. He was glad to be home, obviously, and I feel better knowing that he’s back here.
From a superb article by Frank Rich in today’s New York Times:
This week’s nightmare, it’s now clear, has awakened us from a frivolous if not decadent decadelong dream, even as it dumps us into an uncertain future we had never bargained for.
The dream was simple — that we could have it all without having to pay any price, and that national suffering of almost any kind could be domesticated into an experience of virtual terror akin to a theme park ride…
The great shark scare of 2001 — already speeding to the dustbin of history, along with such other summer ephemera as Gary Condit, Robert Blake and Lizzie Grubman — was typical of an age in which we inflated troublesome but passing crises into catastrophes that provided the illusion of a national test of character, or some kind of moral equivalent of war, but in fact were for most of us merely invitations to indulge in cost-free hyperventilation…
Our desire for vicarious battle, the one commodity a stock market bubble couldn’t buy, also explains the fetishization of World War II.
Despite the liberal cast of my demographics (my sexual orientation, my religion, my geographic location), I’ve never considered myself to be a far-left kind of guy. I’ve always thought of myself as merely a left-of-center moderate. I’m not particularly anti-war. I think we need to retaliate somehow. I don’t think war is bad if it will prevent future terror.
But I do think we need to be careful. Who knows if we’ll succeed in preventing future terror. We probably won’t, in fact. We won World War II only to have to fight the Cold War. The Law of Unintended Consequences. Humanity is both a remarkably wonderful species and a remarkably horrible species. Yin and yang. We’ll never be able to eliminate evil completely.
We have to be careful in whatever we decide to do. We have to separate war-as-catharsis from war-as-instrument. Despite the fact that a majority of the country wants it right now, I’m wondering if things will begin to change if the bodybags start coming home. On the other hand, after Tuesday’s destruction there are already at least 5,000 bodybags waiting to be filled with the innocent dead. Maybe things really have changed. Maybe we really are ready. I don’t know.
I just don’t know.
Before we go to war, we have to realize what we might be in for. I’m not against going to war in principle. It’s just that I just hope our “fetishization of World War II,” as Frank Rich put it, through movies and television and Tom Brokaw’s books, hasn’t inured us to what war really means.
We can’t just sit on our hands and spout touchy-feely I-love-humanity platitudes anymore. I’m sorry, but that’s not going to help. “War is not the answer,” you say? That’s a bit too trite and simple. This is the way the world works.
But before more lives are lost — the lives of even more friends and family members and possibly our own — we have to make sure we know the costs, and the consequences. And we have to make sure we know what the hell we’re doing, and what our goal is. We can’t do it just for catharsis.
Remember the Law of Unintended Consequences. It’s going to come back to haunt us, whatever we decide. Such is the universe.
I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
None of us know.