Like almost anyone reading this, the Czar remembers exactly where he was eight years ago. The weirdly blue and open skies. The strangely hushed start to the morning. The people gathering by anything like a television. The Czar only glances in passing. The sudden and furious phone calls. Realization that this is real. And big. The wondercould this be the next targetand even the doubtthis just doesnt seem rightthat bounced back and forth. The Czar remembers calling the Mandarin in disbelief, and the Mandarin warning quickly that a mutual friend of ours was in the South tower. No word yet on whether she made it.
The world stops. Flights are cancelled. A strange, disengaged business meeting in Kansas City, and all one can think is Good thing I drove here. No word yet on whether she made it. If flights are cancelled, what is that, then? The Czar looks and sees. An F/A-18…no, a pair…circling high over KCMO skies.
A long drive back that night to Chicago at breakneck speeds, the roads empty except for people with New York and New Jersey license plates screaming past even the Czar, headed for home. Not a cop to be found; one wonders what they have been asked to do. Home at last. Television, television, television, all night long for us.
Flags fly everywherethe Czar only remembers this many flags back in 1969, the moon landing. A bonfire on a neighbors lawn. He was on the phone with a co-worker who was in the World Trade Center. His friend was in an elevator, said the lights flickered, and a smell of smoke. They were stopping the elevator to force the doors open. Then the phone went dead.
Everyone has grim thoughts. The cell phone rings frantically to confirm that the Czar drove to Kansas City. And that it was not a flight to New York. Word at last from the Mandarin: she made it, and she is driving home with co-workers. Her story is horrific and grisly, too terrible to tell here.
The Czar loves Thanksgiving: it makes sense to celebrate in reverant thanks all you have. And he immediately took to Patriot Day as a day to remember all that was lost, and how much more was saved, by so many so fast. Patriot Day is more than a day to reminisce. It is a day that etches what humans are capable of, both good and bad, both evil and sacred. It is both warning and celebration of the fine line between tragedy and triumph. And we remember how we stood back up, fought back, and while the world watched, shocked that we failed to cower as they had done, we started once again to transform everything.
It is an American day.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.