It Was the Worst of Times by Diane

It is difficult to think of a topic related to the Regency period or about writing Regency on this day, Sept 11, the fifth anniversary of the horrific event known by its date, the three numbers we punch into our phones in the event of an emergency. 9/11

I was at work that day, a social worker for the county that includes the Pentagon. A co-worker brought in a radio for the first time that day and was just testing it when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. That was how we heard. We canceled our clients and otherwise remained helpless, watching out the windows at the smoke rising from the Pentagon or listening to the radio. Thanks to cell phones, I was never out of touch with my loved ones. It took my husband, who worked in Washington DC, hours to get home. Had it not been for the heroes of Flight 93, he might never have come home again. My co-workers and I were asked to stay at work while all day people and cars streamed past our building getting out of the city. Our county’s police, fire, and medical workers were busy responding to the emergency. When I finally left, it was 4 pm and by then the streets were eerily deserted.

I won’t be watching the TV coverage or the controversial ABC docudrama. Have no plans to see the 9/11 movies. I’m just not ready. Last year when the emergency dispatcher tapes were released, I burst into tears hearing them. Last week I heard an actress who happened to be in NYC that day, tell about stepping out into the street and seeing the ash-covered survivors walking toward her. She saw a business man weeping being held by a homeless man who comforted him. I burst into tears and have tears streaming down my face now in the retelling. I don’t know why that image gets to me. I suppose because it symbolizes both the grief and the glory.

I visited the World Trade Center site this summer, as I did the summer of 2001. This time instead of a raw gash in the earth-a horrible scar- there was rebuilding. Rebirth. Hope. I didn’t cry.

What event in the Regency could be most similar to this?

Waterloo? Encarta says: “French casualties totaled about 40,000, British and Dutch about 15,000, and Prussian about 7000; at one point about 45,000 men lay dead or wounded.” That’s pretty horrific. On the other hand, the people knew the battle ended the killing.

Maybe the French Revolution, even though it was before the Regency and was a protracted event, not a single, terrible day. According to Wikipedia, 1200 people met their death on the guillotine or otherwise in the Reign of Terror, less than half our losses on 9/11. Many of the aristocrats in England knew these French contemporaries, some were even related to them. The English must have been terrified their own masses would rise up and kill them all. They certainly took repressive steps to nip any revolutionary sentiment right in the bud. No wonder the English feared a French invasion and made Nelson a hero for averting it, and later Wellington for ending it. In Regency times, Napoleon was the “Boneyman,” aka “bogeyman”, still scaring children today.

I wonder how history will paint 9/11 in 200 years?
I’d like to think somebody like me will still be brought to tears.

Like the example of that homeless man, my cyberhugs to all of you.
Diane

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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