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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

September 13, 2007

Anniversary Redux

The sun is setting slowly over the Hudson River as I rumble north on the long ride home; it is one of the most beautiful train rides in the country – may be the world. It is a bucolic moment and I am glad to enjoy it against the backdrop of a quiet country.

The days preceding the anniversary of 9/11 were beautiful, eerily similar to the day six years ago. The anniversary fell on a Tuesday again. Osama Bin Laden was releasing another video. I felt wary.

When the day dawned it was a wet, rainy, dreary day very unlike the beauty of the date six years ago. I was relieved.

I was also traveling – training down to D.C. for a meeting and an overnight. Around me, as I did business, the world paused and remembered and mourned. And like many who lived in New York that day, I could close my eyes and see the tower burning and the streams of people moving tearfully up the street. I can hear the screams as the buildings fell and see the people running away, even though we were all too far away to be hurt by falling debris. The images of that day and the days following, when the city lay under smoke and the stench of burned plastic, the silence was unearthly and streets were filled with stunned people, are indelibly burned into my soul.

The crowds have dwindled at the ceremony, now held away from Ground Zero in a nearby park. In DC the world paused at the moment when the plane hit the Pentagon and families and friends stood in the rain in Pennsylvania and wept where Flight 93 crashed. While these things were going on, I was living my normal life, in a meeting at Discovery’s headquarters, pitching a show to Planet Green.

Yet in the back of my mind, like a program running in the background, that day was with me and all the things that have sprung from it. I had just seen ALIVE DAY MEMORIES: HOME FROM IRAQ, a stunning HBO film interviewing ten men and women who have returned alive when they should have died. That day is called their “Alive Day”. They are missing legs, arms, brains. They are individuals who have been to the brink and back and are now and will be for the rest of their lives, learning to live with what was given to them by their tour of duty in that dusty Hades.

Whenever I read reports about 9/11, I want to weep and be comforted. I can weep but I doubt anyone will ever feel the comfort they need to heal the wounds. While that day will live forever in the souls of the people who were in those places on that day, it is also true we must move on, integrate that horrible moment and keep on going into some brighter future. The dust of those collapsed towers has obscured a vision of the future for America.

We are not looking forward. No candidate in this election has, to date, articulated a vision of America that shouts the one thing we need: hope. I hear talk of homeland security and safety but I don’t hear hope. These “tough” stances mask the fear we feel.

We are sad, embattled and fearful.

Ronald Reagan captured America with the thought: it’s morning in America. No great fan of Mr. Reagan, I do think we need some morning kind of thoughts to bring us back from the mourning that has subsumed the country and which we have attempted to distract ourselves from by all kinds of diversions.

But diversions don’t deal with the issues and the issues are what we need to resolve. We need to put 9/11 in perspective and we need to deal with the choices made by this administration in dealing with the war on terror. And we need to find a way to deal with terrorism, by fighting it, understanding it and showing likely converts alternative dreams for their lives while we strive for a future that includes hope and solutions to, not just protection from, the issues that we face.