Funny how much can change in such a brief amount of time. But that September morning a year ago succeeded in altering so many things. Yes, a year has passed since 9/11, and it has been 10 months since the death of the last victim of the still-unsolved anthrax attacks. We’ve endured countless homeland security warnings and high alerts, yet nothing has happened since. Who would have predicted that a year ago?
As we arrive at this first anniversary, people aren’t sure how to act. One year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the day was marked with the tolling of bells, raising of flags and schools having special history classes. The country didn’t have 24-hour news channels that captured every moment of the attack. This week, networks will go into overload mode with their retrospectives and commemorations. (Not really sure what the Food Network and Home & Garden Television can add, but they’re planning tribute shows as well.) No wonder companies are afraid to advertise. While CNN will have limited commercial breaks on Sept. 11, Fox News Channel will be ad free. Some people may be afraid of what they’ll see; others will simply grow tired of the relentless, sensationalistic coverage.
The telephones will be silent that day, as many call centers will have reduced staffing or be closed. DialAmerica, the country’s largest privately held teleservices agency, has said it plans to shut down completely. Sears has decided not to make any telemarketing calls to consumers. The company also will move print ads from running that day and will suspend television and radio commercials from 6 p.m. Sept. 10 through Sept. 11. Time magazine won’t carry many ads in the section devoted to coverage of the anniversary. E-mail marketers have said they will limit their promotional activity, even though Internet use is expected to be high. Will spammers do the same? Somehow I doubt it. Several catalogers and mailers, who aren’t in complete control of the arrival dates for what they send, did not alter their mailing plans. It’s doubtful that consumers will mind the intrusion.
In reality, 9/11 is just like any other day. Of course, we will not forget the lives that were lost one year ago, and there will be the appropriate remembrances. But most of the country will go to work that day and get their jobs done. Business will be conducted. People will still buy things. We will reflect, but life will go on.