Contemplating the Attacks
It has taken more than a month to put pen to paper (or should I say electrons to CRT screen?) regarding September 11. Here are my assorted and disjointed musings.
- Time will tell what the next generation will call what today is known as “the war against terrorism,” but I have a feeling that the events that started it all will remain simply “September 11th.” More descriptive words seem horribly inadequate.
- I started a new job the day before, on Monday, September 10. Tuesday was the second day of 10 weeks of intensive formal training for me and 19 others. Being in class that morning, we didn’t learn what was happening until our first break, by which time the attacks were well underway. A fellow trainee, just transferred from another department, got a phone call from his former co-workers and relayed the developments to us. It was hard to work for the rest of the day.
- The destruction in New York is still too great for my small mind to grasp. Even after seeing the video a hundred times, I can’t fathom that the towers just aren’t there anymore. I’ll never forget my blank imcomprehension when my co-worker first relayed the news: “The first tower just collapsed,” and then just minutes later, “the second tower is gone.”
- It was shocking enough to hear that two commercial jets had been flown into the World Trade Center towers. But when I heard that another plane had hit the Pentagon, I thought we were being invaded. For the first time in my life, I understood war the way Europeans of my parents’ and grandparents’ generations understood it.
- I also had a flashback to my vacation last February when, in an attack of acrophobia while on the observation deck of Toronto’s CN Tower, I imagined a plane flying into the tower and sending us to our deaths. At the time my son laughed at my foolishness, but it doesn’t seem funny now.
- Contacting friends who may have been in the twin towers continues to be difficult. My cousin, who worked for Blue Cross in 1 WTC, got out safely and was driven by a kind trucker to Long Island where he boarded the ferry home to Connecticut. It took another two weeks before I heard from one of my sorority sisters who worked for the Port Authority and also got out safely. Another sister lives in Battery Park but was on vacation in Europe in September. Others remain unheard from.
- The only person I know who worked at the Pentagon had transferred out not long before the attack. Unfortunately, he left his Pentagon job to return to flight status as a Marine combat aviator and is now in Pakistan. So I embark on another round of correspondence reminiscent of the Gulf War where he also served.
- And finally, excuse me for being testy, but I am growing weary of well-meaning Muslim leaders here in the United States warning other Americans not to associate them with the September 11 attacks. Most of us already know that the terrorists represent Islam about as much as the Nazis represented Christianity. The current danger is not that non-Muslims may misjudge Islam by these acts; the threat is from those Muslims who are mounting a hostile takeover from within Islam. It is a threat that can only be neutralized by the vigilant resistance of other Muslims. I pray they have the courage to do what they must.