On September 11, 2001, I went to a meeting in the eastern suburbs of Philadelphia. I drove back north on the New Jersey Turnpike in mid-afternoon. To my right, the entire horizon – and I could see a lot of it – sported a line of dark, ominous cloud at ground level, tall enough to be visible everywhere, spreading north and south as far as the eye could see. It was smoke from the collapse of the the towers that had spread right down the Jersey shore line. I wondered how terrifying that sight would have been, had I not known what had happened. There was no way to tell whether it was drifting toward me, and I had never seen anything like it.
I wondered what that sight would be like to anyone who did not know about the disaster. I could imagine getting off the turnpike and driving away from it as fast as I could, and calling my wife to tell her to do the same.