This was written exactly 19 years ago. It seems as if it happened yesterday and it seems as if it happened so long ago.

Still, Tuesday, life went on.

People worked, shopped and picked their children up from school.

At Williams Park in Batavia, parents huddled together to discuss the tragedy as their children practiced football early Tuesday night.

At Wal-Mart, shoppers steered their carts around red-coated employees who stood in the aisles, watching television sets that hung from the ceiling.

Life went on here. But it was stilted. Different.

A look to the skies was all that was needed.

Not a single vapor trail cut across the vast crystal blue sky Tuesday.

Wednesday dawned much the same.

A sky as perfect as a powder blue diamond.

It was eerie.

The skies closed to all but the birds.

Borders secured. U.S. warships and aircraft carriers patrolling the harbors and shores.

America for a day, two days and maybe forever, locked in a cocoon of horror, fear, disbelief and unending grief.

Life went on, but it was awry.

All the words written, all the photographs printed and in one newspaper, every single page devoted to the tragedy.

All I could think about was the weather forecast tucked in a corner amongst all the madness.

And I smiled.

Life went on.

But reality was altered.

“Dad,’’ Dylan asked when he came home from school Tuesday afternoon. “What if it happened to us?’’

“We’d be dead,’’ I said.

“But what if we saw the plane coming?’’

I sighed and told him that it just wouldn’t happen here.

“But what if it did?’’

What if. A question that until Tuesday was unthinkable.

No longer. Anything, it seems now, is possible in this world, the new, altered version of what we once knew.

Words spill from our lips and impulsively we shake our heads in disbelief, as if to say “I can’t believe I am saying this.’’

I stood in the doorway of my garage and watched my children play Wednesday afternoon.

Chad was holding a foam airplane and crashing it into the picnic table.

“Oh no! A plane is crashing into the World Trade Center,’’ he screamed.

Before Tuesday, he did not know what the World Trade Center was.

He just turned 8.

“Chad. Come here for a minute,’’ I said.

“What dad?’’

“You really shouldn’t be saying that, with the plane. A lot of people died and please just don’t. OK?’’

For once he did not ask why or whine or have a smart-mouthed response.

“OK,’’ was all he said.

This was not “Godzilla,” “Independence Day,’’ or “War of the Worlds.’’

This was real.

“Dad, are we at war?’’ Dylan asked as we swam in the pool.

“Yes. Well, not really. No. I don’t know.’’

“Who are we at war with?’’

“I don’t know. People who hate us.’’

“Why do they hate us?’’

“They just do. Because we’re Americans.’’

“Will I have to go to war?’’

“No. You’re not going to war.’’

“Do you want me to go to war?’’

“No. Never.’’

I picked him up and threw him across the pool. It’s our game. I’m Kong and I throw people. That’s what I do. And they swim and swim but they can’t get away.

Dylan laughed and laughed and spit out water and I put on my goggles to take after him but looked up first.

And the sky was blue and clear and not a single vapor trail cut its wispy path across the horizon.

Scott DeSmit is a general assignment reporter for The Daily News. He can be reached at

Johnson Newspapers 7.1