Gravelly Point is where you go to see the jets swoop low before landing at National Airport, and by the time I got there wind gusts were so strong that I realized this was probably a dumb place to be.
Was it just my imagination, or did the planes seem to tremble as they banked into their final turns? Could a sudden gust throw them off course?
I kept my eye on each craft, and was surprised by how those big birds made me feel. Watching them land, the brave tilt of their wings, their plucky landing gear, gave me the same tender-hearted feeling I had on 9-11. It's a rare and anomalous emotion, one I've been trying to understand since that day.
It is pity, in part, but also also pride and patriotism and compassion. It's a sudden awareness of fragility — both human and technological — and of how hard we work to stay aloft.