Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Caught in the Crossfire
navigation



ITVS

After 9/11: Stories


This comment area is closed to new submissions. Visit ITVS.org to continue the conversation about this film.

The September 11 terrorist attacks provoked fear, anger, sorrow, hatred, empathy, confusion, sadness, vengeance - mixed reactions in a country that was forever changed. Below you will find personal anecdotes and news reports that reflect a variety of experiences, both positive and negative, across the country after 9/11.


I work for a long distance phone company and part of our process is to have TVs on the wall monitoring CNN for such events that may affect communications and so we are aware of what may be happening in case of an influx of calls. .. on the morning of 9/11 I just came into work and sat down at my desk. The TV was pretty close to me so I could see on the screen the WTC and smoke coming out from it. since the volume was turned down. I was just watching and though I had seen a report about a small plane hitting the trade towers. So I didn’t really pay much attention but as time went I kept glancing up from time to time and saw the smoke seemed to be getting worse and as they zoomed in on the building the hole looked much larger than a small hole. .. then things started unfolding. And happened quickly. There were then reports about commercial airplanes being unaccounted for. And I stood up and started watching. We had some BIG Switch hubs in the basement of the trade center. .. after some time several of us were gathering around watching this and as we watched. Suddenly we saw live. The second airplane hit the WTC.. and I just sat there stunned. I was not sure if what I saw was correct. Then it was if time just stood still. They kept replaying that and it was at that moment I knew we had been attacked and I was just speechless. As more reports came in we saw both towers burning now and still couldn’t grasp what had just happened. I was thinking to myself the amount of people in those buildings and what was going on. I went and sat down very quiet and just stared. After a bit I got back up to look again and it was then that I saw one of the towers collapse and my heart just sank. It was like feeling a thousand souls were just silenced and it ripped me right to my core. I felt totally violated.. and just felt so very lost and in despair. I was hoping that they were able to clear out the second tower and then that one collapsed. Once I saw the second one collapse. I felt weak in my knees and had to sit down. .. we had been attacked and there was nothing we could do about it. we knew we were going to be very busy from that point on. We had to start rerouting things and taking emergency calls about services down in NYC.. the rest of the day I was just in total shock. I felt like everything moved in slow motion. It seemed so surreal and like a bad dream. But it was very real. Every year at this time on this day. I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and I still remember exactly what I saw on that day as it happened. and I get very down and withdrawn. I just feel so much for all the people who lost their lives in the building. And as days went by. We saw pictures of people who were near the top of the building throwing themselves off the building .. I will never forget this day.. nor the lives of those who gave their lives for those in the towers.

I was a sophomore in high school when the planes hit the WTC. I remember I didnt even find out anything was wrong until 4th period, around 11 am. Our teacher told the class what happened, but only the WTC plane crashes, and nothing about the pentagon or the plane crash in pennsylvania. I couldn't believe something like that could have happened to us. America, the strongest and most powerful country in the world. My English teacher left because her brother-in-law worked at the WTC. The ambulance came and took her out on a stretcher because she was having a panic attack...her brother-in-law wasnt answering his cell, and it was later discovered he had died. So many people were pulled out of class because they had loved ones who were affected. My town is only half an hour outside the city, so many parents commute everyday. That day I went home, cried a little, and made an American flag necklace that I wore for I cannot even remember how long. I put God Bless America posters on my car. But one of the greatest things I remember in the aftermath of the tradedy was the unity we showed as Americans. Every corner I turned down, I saw people holding signs that read, "Honk if you love America". There was a traffic jam every weekend around our local fire house with people donating food and clothing to those most affected. I also remember crying the hardest after I found out that the passengers and crew of United 93 had taken action against the terrorists and brought the plane down in a field before it could do any damage. Those people embodied true Americans, as did all of the NYPD and NY firefighters who sacrificed their lives to save others.

A few years later a new friend of mine told me her father, an NYPD officer, was one of the last people pulled from the wreck of the WTC. We saw the "World Trade Center" movie together, and both sobbed. We were happy for those who were saved, and yet deeply saddened by those who were not so lucky. I am proud to be American, and I know freedom is NEVER free. We must continue to support our troops who keep us safe thousands of miles away, again risking their lives to save ours.

i was i the 4th grade, yet i remember that day like it was yesterday. the day started out like any other. we lived in hanau germany at the time, on an army base, my father is in the army. but at dinner we could hear the jets flying over us and we heard the commotion at the gates to get on and off base. my dad went out to see what was haooening. he didnt come back for a very long time. after a few minutes of waiting our naeighbour from upstairs came bursting through our door screaming "turn it on turn it on!!" i remember my mom jumping up, clearly worried that our neighbour was going mental. but our neighbour grabbed the remote control off the table and turned on CNN. it was showing the towers falling. i remember wondering where that was happening, and why it was making everyone so insane. i continued eating. i recall ALL of the bases in the area being on lockdown. you had to stay wherever you were when the towers fell. luckily we were at home. when dad came back he told us what he knew from the guards at the gate. there were tons of people trying to gert home to their children, their families who were on base. nobody could come on though. i recall being distraught for days as the jets flew over us and it tok 20 minutes to get on and off base because of maximum security. that day was easily one of the times i have been most scared.

9-11 Tribute thru connection with the N.Y.C. Marathon. In 2000 i ran the N.Y.C. Marathon and fell in love with the city, so on returning home i immediately booked to go again in 2001. With the events of 9-11-2001 i didnt think the race would take place, (nov 4th) so i was overjoyed that Rudy Giuliani insisted the race go ahead. On arrival at Kennedy airport I was called to the British airways desk to be informed that my mother had died after a long struggle with cancer whilst i was in the air. In the previous weeks I kept telling my mom that im not going to New York due to her poorly condition. She told me I know your heart is breaking by the situation, but you must travel to New York with my blessing and make your mother proud by supporting freedom and liberty. My plane left London for New York at 10.00Am (gmt) she died 20 minutes later, a fact that still brings a tear. So there i am in New York emotionally devastated twice. I sat alone on the back of the bus travelling from Kennedy to Manhattan, it was a beautiful sunny day just like 9-11 i looked out of the window staring nowhere in particular, in an emotionally surreal state. Then came this wonderful sight in the foreground the vast cemeteries of Calvary and Mount Zion at Maspeth and on the horizon the manhattan skyline, seen thru a kaleidoscope of tears and smiles because i love it so much. (Dedicated to the person who waved the bath towel from the top floor of the north tower on september 11th 2001) not being American i can give an objective view, give me your tired and weary from the Ellis Island queue. Driving in from Kennedy, those early immigrants crowd the interstate. At Calvary and Mount Zion they have created reality from dreams, and youre at its gate. Give them liberty, the type tyranny confounds. Where people are free wonderful energy abounds. Their legacy to us are the buildings that stand, on the island of the hills so proud, so grand. The thing that graphically illustrates this so well, so fine is that man made graphic equalizer the Manhattan skyline. Two high peaks are missing where symbols are normally found. Will the harmony be broken the loss so profound. In its spiritual home Mr Lennons imagination stands proud and tall. For New Yorks a racial liquidizer, teaches tolerance for all. Many years from now what will 9-11 mean? A date, of course a number perhaps. Still connecting to those guys wearing NYC department baseball caps. The rest of the world sings a chorus from that old Sinatra song. Its up to you New York New York, we know it wont be long. Your tears will dry for those hearts so brave and true. Thats why the rest of the free world loves the red white and blue. Every year i come back and run the NYC marathon with a message of support on my chest for your wonderful city. This time its New York running for the unforgotten and their families. Finally back in England the Yankees are not just a baseball team, not just New York City but the definitive word to describe the American nation. On marathon day one man will pay homage to your unforgotten past with unconditional support for your dreams and aspirations in the world series of events, both in and outside baseball to say go Yankees !!!! God bless the United States of America.( Given free by author to the good people of New York, no copyright).

I was in third grade. We were in math class when we heard a boom. I live in Alexandria, Virginia, and my school was maybe 5 miles from the Pentagon. People just said that it was some kids in the science lab, others said it was a plane breaking the sound barrier. Then a teacher came in and talked to my teacher. She sent us all down to the gym. No one told us what was happening. Then I saw my 8th grade sister crying. She never cried. The principal said something that I didn't really hear. Then other people started crying, too. I had no clue what was happening. We were sent up to our classroom. Some kids in my class were crying, too. Parents started to arrive and take their kids home. I stayed at Extended Day, like always. I asked my brothers and my sister what happened, but no one told me. When my mom was driving me home, I looked out the window of our car. A house had their door open, so I could see their TV. I saw a huge fire burning. People were crying, screaming. It gives me nightmares thinking about it. I still didn't understand, so my mom explained. I got very scared, because my dad worked at the Pentagon, and the section where he worked had been hit. But God saved him. He's okay, but he didn't have his cell phone that day, so we didn't know if he was alright. That was one of the worst days of my life. 9/11 is an emotional time for me because my father almost died. If the plane hit a fraction to the side, he would have died. I thank God he is alright.

I was in the third grade when this happened. All I remember was this on kid said that we were getting out early when we wern't soposed to. his mom worked at school. This was all at lunch and no one believed him. When we got back to class our teacher said you are going home early. They didn't tell us why but when i got home i found out from my mom and it was devestating

I was starting my first day of High School. Me and my cousin was just sitting in the auditorium waiting for our program cards for our first day of school. When we recieved them we were going to the third floor of our school when I asked my cousin "Hey somethings missing and I can't see anything but smoke." As the day went on we were hearing all of these weird stories. When I left school that day I was like to my cousin "I hope everythings ok in Manhattan." Little did I know everything was a disaster in Manhattan. When I arrived at home that day I seen my mother just looking at the television and just crying her eyes out. All we could do is just keep watching the horror as the second plane slice through the south tower like a hot knife through butter. Me I felt so bad I wanted to do something but I was so helpless I was only fourteen at the time. The next day I could smell the fumes that came from ground zero

I was living in Alexandria, Virginia at that time, and working out of my home. For some reason I woke up real early that morning, and turned on the tv to watch the news, which I never do. But although I did this, I had the volume low, and went up to the loft to get on the computer. Around 8:55 a.m., I walked over to the top of the stairs and looked down at the tv. What I saw didn't make sense to me because it was showing smoke and flame from the World Trade Center, and I could read the word -- Live. I kept thinking that doesn't make sense -- why are they showing file footage from 1993, and saying it's Live? I then went downstairs and turned the volume up and watched, finaly realizing this was indeed -- Live. A few minutes later I saw the second plane hit. I was totally shocked, and couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing.

I kept watching, and so heard about the plane hitting the Pentagon. I started calling close friends to find out if they'd heard, and/or if they were okay. One friend asked me to pick him up cause they'd been let go from the FDIC, and the metro was shut down. I left my house and got caught up in a horrific traffic jam -- the likes of which I hope I never get caught in again. Everybody was leaving DC, and instead of taking only about 36 minutes or so to pick up my friend, it took me over two hours. When I finally got back home I spent most of the rest of the day watching tv, and crying.

On September 13th, 2001 I had a moment of despair, shattered as I was by the events of 9/11 I was overcome with emotion. It was at that moment I realized that, in a way, I was letting the terrorists beat me. I was letting them win. I turned this into motivation and set out into our nations heartland to help those troubled by this tragedy put it behind them. With a box full of "WE LOVE NY" T-shirts and a heart of conviction I was off into the sunrise. Traveling by day and camping by night, I met hundreds of people from all walks of life. I was taken by how easy it was to strike conversation and bond with complete strangers. It was an unprecedented time in our country. People wore their hearts on their sleeves, cried openly without embarrassment, and we were unified in a way that I just couldnít have imagined. It was a dream that has come and gone but Iíll never forget that feeling. Today I know that many are still suffering and the pain may even be deeper for some. So on this the 5th year of remembrance,

my hope is that we all make an effort to unite in the same way again behind those that are still feeling beaten or left alone by the tragedy. If we let this continue, weíd loosing the most important battle of all in the war right here at home. After all, what kind of soldier would leave the wounded behind in without a fight?

Please view my slide show at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvlgIJ3fUco

I worked as a NY Relay operator (phone services for the deaf) in Syracuse, NY. Basically, I relayed the phone conversation back and forth between a deaf person and their hearing party. We handled calls from all over the US and the world. EVERYONE was talking about the horrible day... and it got very emotional. People had boxes of tissues at their cubicles in case of a very difficult call. I remember having to redial the phone for an hour straight... trying to get through to people in NY city. No calls were going through all day. People cried to me and there was nothing I could do but keep dialing (and say a prayer).

There was a man trying to call his brother (?)... a firefighter in NYC. I dialed and dialed...nothing. He gave me a worried, heart-felt "thank you for trying..." and hung up. I don't know if he ever got in contact with his party...but I still think about that individual...whoever he was.

I'd gotten a late start on my hour-long commute to Maryland. It was a gorgeous, gorgeous morning, with that bright golden light that we have here as fall approaches. I was feeling good driving north on the George Washington Parkway in my silver coupe, sunroof open, listening to Kealii Reichel's "Melalana" repeating on the CD player.

As I passed Turkey Run, I noticed that the southbound traffic was stopping. I turned on the radio to see if there'd been an accident. As I drove across the American Legion Bridge into Maryland, I heard that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I called my husband, who'd stayed home that morning; he had the TV on and said that TWO planes had hit. I remember asking (the end of innocence), "Was it foggy?!?" He said no. I wondered if someone had hacked into the air traffic control system-- I continued the drive up to work. I got there in time to see the burning towers on TV. People were holding hands as they jumped. The first tower fell. I heard that a plane hijacked by terrorists had hit the Pentagon. That was about 4 miles from my house.

I just wanted to get home. I was worried they would close the bridges and I'd be stuck in Maryland. The drive took over 2 hours. The GW Parkway was no good going south, and I-66 looked like it was backing up, so I cut through neighborhoods in Langley and Great Falls and McLean. I passed CIA employees driving home, crying in their cars. As I got to my neighborhood, I saw that the Amoco station (owned by Muslim immigrants), had put out an American flag. I was sad for themóthey must be afraid.

When I got home, my husband said the second tower had fallen. When we were first married, we'd stayed at the hotel at the base of the World Trade Center and had drinks at Windows on the World--all gone. I was incredulous--how could buildings like that just fall?!? My mother had told me she'd worked in the Empire State Building when it had been hit by a plane in the 40s--it didn't fall. She'd died that past May; the thought crossed my mind that I was glad she'd never know about all this.

I stayed home the next day. I bought the first flag I'd owned since Girl Scout days and hung it in our front window. I got flag lapel pins.

We had a "business conditions" layoff at work the next week. I lost my job. The weather and foliage were gorgeous; I sat out on the deck; I went for walks in local parks. While National Airport was closed, it was very quiet at Potomac Overlook Park. Then when it re-opened, I could see the planes approaching as I walked through the woods near the river. The first one I saw was Delta, then American Airlines. I thought about what it must be like for those pilots to fly by the Pentagon on their approach.

My husband and I drove out to the country on weekends. Toward the end of September, I started hearing big planes fly over at late at night. I thought they were bombers and that somebody was going to get it--then we started bombing Afghanistan. We heard about it on the radio as we drove through the contryside. It was another gorgeous, golden fall day.

The Pentagon attack really affected me most. I kept thinking of those government workers getting killed at their desks, and all the ones that actually went back to work the next day. I'd been a government worker, too. I took flowers there a few days after 9/11--could not get too close, but smelled that horrible jet-fuel-and-barbecue smell that was everywhere. I will never forget that smell. I left the flowers on the growing, ad hoc memorial site on a hill overlooking the Pentagon. I started going back there every week, with flowers, a decorated pumpkin for Halloween. One time I saw a chain of paper cranes sent by schoolchildren in Australia. I emailed them to let them know I'd seen the cranes and to thank them. They were surprised; no one else had gotten in touch. I also saw the tree decorated for Barbara Olsen. I cried when I read the sign from her friends saying, "You were so brave." She was. They all were. I decided I wanted to return to public service.

Then there was the anthrax business. I felt very bad for the postal workers--again, government workers. I took a big basket of cookies and snacks to the local Post Office. I spent a lot of time selecting things in obviously tamper-resistant packaging so they wouldn't worry. The regular clerk looked very stern, but as I started to explain that this was for them and that I was on their route and I was not a nut and that everything was sealed and I was sorry for the workers who'd been killed, his face just crumpled and he gave me the kindest, saddest smile I've ever seen.

I started a new government job in December 2001. I really looked forward to serving my country and the Congress. I was proud as I said the oathóprotect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domesticóalong with the rest of the intake group. I was proud of my government credentials wallet and badge. I rode the Metro wearing my flag pin. I was afraid on the Metro: bombs, smallpox, fires. I have always been afraid of burning. This job wasn't what I expected. Times had changed. Maybe I'd changed after 6 years in the private sector.

Five years after, I am profoundly sad and angry to think that my world will never return to the innocence of that morning ("Was it foggy?"). I am more anxious about long lines at airports than about getting killed on a plane, but I am still afraid on the Metro as I ride it to my (different) job. My hotel profiles say "low floor" and I find the fire stairs first thing. I still have 6 gallons of water sitting on the kitchen floor under the microwave, keep the cars' gas tanks at least half full at all times, have tuna and peanut butter and N-95 masks. But I don't have it all in a "go bag." We don't have plastic and duct tape for the windows. The flag is still in our front window.

If an anticipated trip had not been called off a while before, we could have been on that plane that hit the Pentagon. I wanted the AA miles. We always go for the first nonstop out on a big plane.

Lisa Raines was on the flight that hit the Pentagon. We had not overlapped at work, but I'd met her briefly when she came back for a meeting. Michael B. Packer was my master's thesis advisor. He was speaking at Windows on the World that morning and the fire there must have been terrible beyond all my imagining.

On the evening of September 11, went to bed early. I had been in my teaching position at Anqing Teacher's College, Anqing, Anhui Province, PRC for less than two weeks but the constant parade of visitors had left me exhausted. I tried to ignore the loud knock on my door at 9:30 PM. The knocks persisted--the voice of my teaching partner was insistent--"Linda, something terrible has happened!" A friend in Shanghai had called her with the news. We only had the Voice of America to hear the horrifying news of the attacks on the WTC. Tearfully we prayed together, desperate that we were thousands of miles away from our loved ones, unable to telephone; fearful that our nation was under attack. Sleep came much, much later. At 6:30 in the morning, there came another knock on my door. Standing there was one of my young students. In a very solemn voice he said, "On behalf of all the Chinese people I wish to express my condolences." Today I grieve that we have squandered that gift of compassion.

I am from new jersey i live wt the shore and i was in 6th grade then and from outside you could see a massive black cloud after the attacks and we went inside after recess and they sat us down and told us we knew something was wrong when kids in our class where being taken out and ouer teachers whose husband was in the south tower left school thank god he was out side the building when the first tower was hit and he got the last ferry to nj it was souch a horrible day all i remember is crying i will never ever forget

I could remember the day it happen, i could also remember the day before how it was empty im not saying i knew it was going to happen i just felt like something different. i woke up in the morning and got some breakfest tacos and saw in the news how a plane hit the WTC and how i got in the car and told my mom about it, i didnt worry about it, my mom said it was horrorable but planes do hit buildings. i went to skool and did the normal things and finally when i went to my science class the teachers were arouse about the stinging news and stop and sit next to there radio's. people were sitting everyone just stopped and listened no one question about what was going on but they concern the fact about there family. the bell rang and suddenly no one was in a hurry everyone was worried about how things are, i went to my english class and waited to hear what was next to do... the teacher came in and explained how and what might have happen, for an hour after that walking by class rooms and watching the day go slow i came to the understanding about what was going on.. ever since then my life changed people died because other people saw different on politics. even thought that people sot justice on a war and now think were dying is never going to slience the peace for the lives that never will return to say how much they love there love ones. how we can die thinking were americans but yet to prove were vurable yet easy like 9-11 ... i prize the fact many of the people werent selffish in saving lives that day.. i know if i was to die or try to live that day i would do the same.

Exactly as millions of other Americans, I was horrified at what I was seeing on TV. As time passed, I was not only deeply depressed but filled with fearówhat would happen next? Where would the next attack occur?
I come from a military family. Almost all the male members of the family for two generations have been career servicemen; many West Pointers. Any event that might involve the military becomes a very personal thing.
As the day of 9/11 evolved, I wondered where our Air Force was; where was the President? When would someone in the administration have something to say to the public to still our fears?
Since that day of 9/11, I have questioned many aspects of the days that followed.
My husband was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Territory of Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. He took command of the Aircraft Warning Company on Dec. 5th. We were having b
reakfast early the morning of the 7th as he prepared to go to a meeting in Honolulu. I was attending to my three-month-old infant when the first bombs struck.
One of my brothers was stationed in the Philippines at that same moment. It was months before we learned that he had been taken prisoner, held by the Japanese, tortured, and died aboard a Japanese ìhell shipî bound for Manchuria, torpedoed by an American submarine.
At that time, my father was Quartermaster Officer at Camp Upton, Long Island, which became a main staging area for troops deployed to Europe. So he and my mother had both of us two children in harmís way in two different locations on Dec. 7th.
The attack at Pearl Harbor took Americans completely by surprise and left them not only with horror, but humiliation and anger. Japan had not declared war but had sneaked up on us while conducting peace negotiations. Our President addressed Congress to declare war and then addressed the public. No one who heard his words will ever forget them. We knew immediately that the full power of our country would be turned on the enemy.
People say 9/11 was worse than Pearl Harbor. I object to that. We were hit on our own territory. We were hit by surprise. 2,403 of our servicemen were killed; 1178 wounded. And what few even know these days is that there were two attacks. Our streets of military quarters were strafed in the second attack. All dependents were evacuated at midnight in a bus convoy to Honolulu where we drove past Pearl Harbor in flames and then spent the night in public schools. For the next week, we were then billeted in civilian homes in the city, expecting the Japanese to land on our shores.
For the next four months, we had air raid warnings almost daily. We never knew when the next attack would arrive. Only once, on March 1942, did another Japanese plane come through and drop one bomb. I, along with many others wives and children, was finally evacuated from Honolulu on Easter Sunday that April, never knowing when we would see our husbands again.
Comparing the two events, 12/7 to 9/11, the fear of Americans after 12/7 was quickly marshaled into action. Every citizen was expected to sacrifice and did. Our industrial power was geared up to full speed, producing armament. Women went to work in factories to help. Every able man was drafted into the armed services. Those who could not serve manned civilian patrols. Even the children were asked to do their part.
And for the next four years, everyone continued to sacrifice.
How very different the aftermath of 9/11! First, no one knew where the President was. Then when he addressed the nation, he asked us to go shopping!
The production of war material has been so poor in so many areas that four years later we are still hearing stories of inadequate helmets, bulletproof vests and armored vehicles.
The use of contract services to release more servicemen for active war duty has led to fraud, crony awarded contracts and, still at this date, many unfinished projects in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Unexpected consequences are rife, such as the use of contract labor in formerly military jobs. Changing from military guards on military posts to contact workers has resulted in the hiring of ex-convicts, crooks and thieves at some locations.
Of much greater importance has been the lack of involvement of most Americans with the war, the dead and the horribly wounded. Rather than all of us sacrificing that has been left to our Armed Forces and their families. What a way to fight a world war!óThe War Against Terror, as our president has termed it.
Now we have the continued use of fear mongering; recent announcements of FBI actions in capturing suspected so-called terrorists have aroused suspicious that the public is being manipulated.
One last huge difference in the comparison of 12/7 and 9/11 is the deep divide between political parties and Americans themselves. Homeland Security, our intelligence services and our emergency services like FEMA are constantly being shown to be inadequate. The war in Iraq has certainly divided this nation. And where is The War Against Terrorism now?
So why is 9/11 treated by our government as the worst thing that ever happened to this country? Have we so quickly forgotten Pearl Harbor and how all Americans must be involved in any war?

As a firefighter on the west coast I was at home with my family. Obviously it was difficult to watch the Towers fall with 343 of my fellow firefighters trapped inside. I struggled for weeks after the tragic event wondering all the time where I would fit in, what my little contribution in response to this event felt around the world would be. After speaking with a Los Angeles City Fire Department friend of mine who was on the plane to N.Y. on September 12 with his U.S.A.R. team, and returned three weeks later, I finally discovered what I needed to do. What this firefighter said to me has stayed with me and inspired me to begin a project that literally worked its way around the world. As my friend was leaving Ground Zero and shaking the hands of the FDNY firefighters one reached out to him, shook his hand, looked him straight in the eyes and said, "Please don't forget us." I decided my part was to create a tribute patch that all firefighters can wear to pay tribute to those lost that day, create unity amoung us all and raise funds for the families left without a father, husband, brother, uncle and cousin. The project was called the National Firefighters 9-11 Memorial Patch. It was my promise to Never Forget! After sending out flyers to all fire departments across the US, orders began pouring in March through June of 2002. By September 11 of 2002, hundreds of organizations were wearing the patch and $15,000 was donated to the U.F.A. Widows and Children's Fund. For the year that followed, the project grew to include 4000 organizations in 22 different countries. There is nothing like seeing Greater Manchester firefighters wearing their hearts on their sleeves by displaying the 9/11 Patch with the background of our US Flag on their uniforms. To have our military participate was the icing on the cake. After all they were going out to put themselves in harm's way in response to the acts of terrorism on our own soil. They created a bond with our emergency personnel that I will never forget. Recently, I launched a 5-Year 9/11 Anniversary patch that incorporates a soldier and police officer alongside the firefighter. The project is about sharing common threads and wearing our hearts on our sleeves. It is about remembering what we all should remember; heroes that gave their lives so that thousands could be alive today. More info can be seen on the website at : http://911patchproject.org

I was in 5th grade. We were on the playground. It was sunny, everyone was laughing. Suddenly, the teachers came running, screaming, telling us to get inside. We're thinking, "What the heck?" So we're all rushing in, some are crying, others are just dumbfounded. We're in a our classrooms now. The TV is on. We watch the horror of the terrorist attacks. It was terrifying. Now, 5 years later, when I see a picture or hear someone talk about it, I get this sad feeling.

I remember it barely being my first month in an American high school. During Biology, the principle knocked on the classroom door, and in the middle of the mayhem in the corridor behind him, he announced with a loud controlled voice, that apparently a plane had hit one of the WTC towers. He urged us to turn on the TV and to tune in. I remember thinking how unwarranted an accident this must be. It was plausible that a plane could hit a skyscraper had there been no precautions. But how could there have been no precautions taken when it came to the WTC!

We all tuned in to watch the disaster unfold. I had to leave for English. On my way, another plane had hit the second tower and it became clear that this was no accident. Everyone was glued to the TVs on in every classroom, and the reporters were now talking about how this could be the work of "Muslim terrorists". I felt overwhelmed with disbelief. I felt like I was in a fog. I knew who I was, and I knew that my religion did not promote this. My religion promoted peace, but now, who would believe that? I felt that everyone was listening intently to what the reporters and anchormen had to say, and believing it. They weren't questioning the intents of the apparent culprits. In no time, they could all be blaming my religion. I represented my religion! I went quietly to my desk, sat there, plunged my head into the cradle of my arms and bawled my eyes out. We had a substitute teacher that day, and that didn't make things any better for me. My English teacher loved me and she would've given me some support. I could feel my classmates around me, some trying to comfort me, and some watching and not knowing why I took this to heart.

I walked back home that day, like I usually did, but never felt so self-conscious in my life. I'd come to America, not intending to feel self-conscious about who I am, but to be myself. I never had trouble being myself before. Now, I understood that not everyone was going to understand that we, Muslims, were like everybody else. We had been convicted, as a group, of a crime. In the following days, I was repeatedly asked why Osama Bin Ladin and his followers did what they did. How could I know? I never really knew who Bin Ladin was. I was not an avid news buff. I never intended to take on politics. I detested politics. My education so far had centered more on the sciences than anything else. All I knew was that there was anger in the Arab and Muslim world about what was going on in Palestine. News about the killings that were taking place there did not cease. You couldn't escape it as a youth growing up in the Middle East. It was everywhere. I did not understand, however, how inflicting such a horrible deed on people could solve anything. It was horrible in every sense of the word. The relatively benign images projected on TV may not have captured the enormity of the human suffering. But it was horrible, truly horrible.

Hell broke lose. Every time I read through the first page of the daily paper or tuned in to the local news, it seemed things were getting worse for Muslims. They were huddled under the Bin Ladin umbrella despite their will. I say "they" because I no longer understood myself. How could people misuse my religion that way? I did not understand. Our religion is that of co-existence. I loved my religion because of its wisdom and its promotion of peace and decent qualities. But this did not matter, or was not recognized. We became them.

I just graduated with a B.A. in International Relations. Over the years, I've had to deal with my share of thinking about myself and where I stand. I went through a phase where I was in denial, where I did not want to acknowledge who I am. I wanted to be for the sake of being. It did not matter if I was not being myself. But then I grew up, and understood that I am myself for a reason. I am who I am so that you would know me, and understand where I'm coming from. Maybe you and I could help put an end to this madness. And now I can go to bed hoping that we could make a difference in this disheartening world.

Its been five years..I didnt die that day...but i lost my soul and now watch the continuing destuction of what was once a family. I worked downtown on Water Street. That morning as my bus drove out of the Brooklyn Battery tunnel i will never forget my thoughts. i sat on the bus thinking how nothing ever changes..that i have been doing the same trip for twenty years..the same thing every morning ... every day... I got off the buss in front of my building and was in disbelif as I watched endless amounts of paper, business cards, and ash fall out of the sky.. As high as i could see there was no start and no end.. I didnt know what happened till i entered my building and heard stories of a plan crashing into the trade center. My offie overlooked the twin towers..We wathed the tower burn..I turned my back to call my husband and the building started to shake..my co-workers started to scream " get out"..They witnessed the second plane crash into the second tower..After that moment...my life was lost..nothing would ever be the same for my family or me again...I spent countless hours petrified of an impending attack..we were huddled outside the perimeters of my building, crying, praying..we thought we were under attack..you could not see above you or very far in front of you..we were also covered in ashes..I will never forget the clothes I wore that day or the look of them when i took them off that night...I watched this man cry hopelessly as he tried to reach his brother who worked in the trade center..our cell phones didnt work..i tried desperately to call my childrens school.. i needed to have the school tell my children i was okay..but in my heart i felt that was the last contact i would ever have with my children again..There are no words to describe my fear..I eventually made it home that night..I remember thanking god for bringing me home alive..only to find out i never really came home..my soul was left behind.. What followed was the slow and continuing destruction of a beautiful family..two children in private school, a marriage betwen two high school sweethearts, with successful professions living in a million dollar home. I sought help.. but my body could not fight back..my mind could no longer cope or understand..and noone could forsee or predict what layed ahead .. a life now filled with mental illness and addiction..an alcholic ex husband..no home for two troubled children to call theirs anymore..and the pain of watching a child who had everything she could ever desire..struggle with anger, hurt , confussion, loss and depression. Its true I didnt die that day.. but if i did..possibly my family would have lived..they would be mourning their mother...but they would not contine to have to watch and live the destruction of 9/11 everyday. I share in the mourning of all those lifes lost that day and the pain those families endured...but who will mourn for me and my family and all of the lost dreams ..We have and will always have to continue to endure this tragedy alone.. forgotten about. .none will remember in their prayers my beautiful family..that no longer exists.

I was called in to help Verizon Wireless restore cell phone services at the World Trade Center disaster area on 9/18/01 one week after the attacks. When I arrived at the disaster site area I could not believe that a week had past by and yet the area looked and felt like the attacks happend that very day.I am writing this story due to the fact that it is now almost five years to the date of being there, and yet I am truly still heartbroken and haunted by by one short incident/image that will most likely never leave my mind. I just finshed working a 12 hour shift in the area of lower Church street/West side highway,when my partner needed to stop and pickup something to drink. We found a deli somewhere around lower Church street. My partner ran inside, and I stayed in our truck and waited for him to return. That's when I saw the most heart breaking thing that will remain with me always. I just happend to look up and over to the right side of the street, and I saw a family walking towards a small red car. Walking were two women, one older, and one fairly young, and a very young girl. I watched them approach the car, and I then realized/assumed that it was someones Son, Husband, and Father that was obviously not coming back for the his car due to the tragedy that took place the week prior. I looked on as the younger & older women placed some flowers on the roof of the car. The image that will forever haunt me is of the little girl walking up to the front of the car, and placing her tiny hand on the hood, and lowering her head as tears rolled down her cheeks. She was no doubt saying goodbye to her Dad. The other thing that sticks with me is, this was the only car parked on that entire side of the street at that moment(Just felt strange/lonely to me). The car was still covered in the dust from the Towers falling. I am forever touched by that day in my life. I don't know who the family is, however my prayers are with them always. Thank you for letting me express myself through this story. I feel like I need to talk about it from time to time, and this helped as well.

My name is Amanda and i'm 10 years old.I would like to tell my story about how my mother was in the wtc building #2 and how that affected everybody in the family.She went to work and my dad was taking care of us because he was off that day.And my mother called from work and told my father to feed me and my little brother and so we went out for breakfast at a restaurant near by our house.Then at the restaurant there was a TV and the news was showing and telling us that the world trade center was hit by an airplane and then we all went back home and put on the tv at our house then my grandmother came up and my dad told her that he doesn't know if she's alive or not because where she worked also got hit by an airplane. My grandmother said please dont tell me that, i'm a sick woman! and she started to cry hysterical and went downstair where she locked herself in the bathroom crying hysterical. Then my big brother called and asked if my mother was ok because he found out at school what happened.

My sister told me that she found out, when they announced it over the speaker at school. she said she was in shocked and began crying hysterical because she remembered going to work with my mother one time. The teacher told my sister to go to the guidance counselor but my sister went to the bathroom to cry. Then we heard the sound of the door open with the keys and there i saw my mother. she was alive and she told us the story of how she survived and how she managed to get here.

Woke up to the phone ringing at around 4 in the morning. I remember thinking, "if they're dead, they'll still be dead in 3 hours; call back." The phone started ringing again a moment later and I knew something was really wrong.
Half-asleep, I answered to hear my brother sounding more deadly serious than I'd ever known. He said, "Turn on the TV." I asked him why and he said, even more urgently, "TURN ON THE TV."
I ran downstairs, turned it on, and sat, tears running down my horrified face, as the second tower began to fall. All I could do was stammer weakly, "no."

I just got home from school that day i sat on the couch... it was around 3. I had somewhat of an idea of what was going on... there was a terrorist attack but i didn't know where or how. My dad walked in the door and told me. I stayed tune to the t.v and watch wtc building number 7 colapse. I was sad, and mad. Later the next few days i've learned what muslims are... they are cruel, foul, sick, demons walking the earth. They must be thinking... "We just awoke a sleeping giant"!

I was in 4th grade. all i can remember is the horrifying screams coming from the tv. as i sat there and watched it i was in shock. then they kept showing the images and i alomst cried. I did not lose anyone close to me that day but im sorry for those whom did.

well i was in school as usally and i didnt really know what had happened that day and as i got home my parents had told me do you know what happened to day hunny i was like no and they had told me the tragic story i had criyed beause i was frightened i was scared for the people who had died or who were going through that and i would pray and pray that god would be with them because i was scared for them and my aunt lives in new york and that made me scared because i hope that she was okay it turned out that she is its just the fact how people have to dael with no parents.or they lost there reletives i dont know what i would do if i had lost my family i would just die and i still pray for every day that every one would be okay and i some tmes i even question GOD like why did this happen and i know GOD does things for a reason but why this why 9/11 as i sit here reading this stories and wonder and cry i just hope that GOD be with us ALL GOD Bless

I remember it like it was yesterday i was in the 6th grade we had just came back from lunch and then our entire schools power went out and everybody was screaming and all i could think about was my baby brother is he okie whats going on>??? and i could figure out if our school had a breech or if someone killed someone or whatever but all i could think about was my baby bro and the fight my parents and i got into that same morning and i never kissed them good-bye i never told them i love you i never hugged him and then i felt it a stray tear stream down my face i couldnt believe it our school is right in the middle of everything we had two riots that day my bro was killed in one and i felt pure hatred like why didnt bush do sumthing why did this happen to me but then i thought it was my baby bros time to go i had no control over that nothing and i had nothing to give him i cryied for days on end it jsut wouldnt stop i felt like it was my fault i felt like i have nothing to give back to my family they have already lost there youngest son and only have me the lonely teenager who thinks she knows everything but everyday when i wake up i think what if i had kissed my parents and told them that i love yall and now i live in a world of regret because of what happend and all i ever wanted was to see my brother grow up and live a happy life and die when he was old i never thought i would be the one to see my brother pass i thought it would be the other way around but i thoght very wrong i had every point of view messt up i had nothing left and i still have nothing to give

I remember i was in the fifth grade,(Currently in the ninth/14 years old) and we had a lock down. i was so scared, and i didnt know what was going on. finally i got home and i saw two planes crash into the two towers. it was so horrifying. and i was like mom turn it off, how can there be sutch horrible and disgusting people out there.

my daughter was on her way to work at Dow Jones, she noticed a airplane wheel on the ground. the smoke started to follow her she ran for her life which she almost lost many times in the next few minutes. my husband tried to reach her in her office no response. we tried for hours we didn't know if she was dead or alive. Finally hours our daughter met a woman with a working cell phone and called us. after climbing out of a building where she took refuge only to experience a gas leak in a building she was able to I think [ I don't remember] she was lowered into a police boat and taken to the New Jersey Triage. There she contacted my Son who lives in jersey and made her way to his home. My husband and I could not hold her or see her as the Bridges were closed. As long as we knew she was safe. We tried to talk to her about her experiance. But she gives little info. each times we speak to her. she still has her dusty attach case which she will never get rid of. She quit Dow Jones, She couldn't sleep at nights.

for weeks, had a bad cough due to the soot, smoke and what have you. that lasted for a year. She has gained an awful lot of weight which we never mention to her. But thank GOD she is with us. No matter how she suffered. We speak to her every two days without fail. i must go now as i am crying.

* Saadia Ahmad, New Jersey
I'll just say one thing to start this off. I've survived through a lot of things since the day I was born till now to the 12 years that I've lived. No kiddin, I've been through a lot. But, this isn't the time or place to tell you about that.

One thing that I will never forget was on the Tuesday of September 11, 2001, the day that both the World Trade Centers fell to the ground, the day the Pentagon was damaged, and the day our country was attacked by terrorists and the day when so many lives were so unexpectedly taken.

I had woken up at 8:00 a.m. by the sound of my alarm clock filling the air. I got ready, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and consumed a quick breakfast before heading to the bus stop, completely oblivious to what the day would turn into. It seemed to be a normal day, excluding the fact that our great country would soon be attacked and left in utmost panic.

I started school the same way as I always did. Walk into the classroom, unpack, and then quickly rush back to my seat. It was now 8:30.

Approximately an hour and a half later, I was in deep concentration working diligently on my favorite subject, Math. I was completely unaware to the fact that our country was currently being attacked without mercy.

It was then that my teacher tapped my shoulder to get my attention, and she said to me, "Saadia, your mother's here to pick you up. Go get ready."

The first thought that rushed to my head was that my parents never let me skip school, excluding that it was a religious holiday, illness, or a crucial emergency.

Because of this, I started to ponder over what could possibly be occuring. During this time, my grandparents had flown from another country to visit for the summer. Because of this, I began to wonder, whilst I packed my bag, did something happen to them? Did they get hurt, sick, or even died? No, I debated with myself, it can't be that, that's completely uncanny.

On my way down to the office, I had thought that maybe a fire started in our apartment, or someone broke in.

I shook my head, I must really be losing my cool.

I was then at the office, sitting in a chair, waiting for my mother to arrive. That was when the principal had come out of her office, and had motioned for the secretary and a few other people who were there to come to her. I had assumed that she was unaware that I was sitting there, open to what she was about to say. She would never have worried a student about this.

Her exact words were, "Two hijacked planes have hit both the World Trade Centers in New York" It hit me like a ton of bricks. My mouth hung open, my eyes grew wide, and my brain froze the train of thoughts that were rushing to a complete halt. That was how I found about the unbelievable disaster.

I just sat there, bewildered and utterly confused. Thoughts and questions sped through my mind. I snapped out of my thoughts by the opening of the office door.

I looked up and saw my mother. I hastily got up and followed her out. Once we were in the car, I asked what happened. She told me that the Twin Towers had indeed been attacked. It was true. No matter how much I wanted it to be a lie, it was the truth. The truth had been confirmed.

My mother extensively explained to me that my father wanted me to come home just to be on the safe side. However, my sister was remaining at her school, seeing as it was a school for mentally and physically ill people, and was better protected.

When we arrived home, my grandparents had their eyes glued to the television screen. That was the first image I saw of the Twin Towers falling.

They were replaying the video of it. The planes heading straight for them, the earsplitting noice that errupted once it made contact, the huge, red, orange, and yellow flames and explosions that was accompanied by thick black smoke obscuring the clear blue skyline. I will never forget those images.

For the next two hours, I was addicted to the T.V. screen, not taking my eyes off it for a mere moment.

We recieved a lot of phone calls and emails that day. And the main reason for that was because my father worked rather close to the Twin Towers. Too close.

A week before the horrible attacks, my father had gone to Canada for a buisness trip. if he hadn't been gone for the trip, there was the chance that he could've died. It was truly a miracle. But because of the attacks, he was forced to ramain in Canada, but a small price to pay compared to what was capable of occuring.

However, not all of our friends and family knew he was in Canada. Therefore, many people were calling to check to see if he was ok. He was, but I felt horrible for the people whose family or friends died in the buldings. And even then, hundreds of people weren't knowledgable that their loved one had died.

It was very hard for us and our friends. One of my parents' best friends had died. He was a very kind man, friendly and funny, too, always trying to help his friends and family. One of the innocent people of many murdered on that fateful day of 9/11/01.

And on that day, and the days following after, I could actully feel the emotion in the USA, in the entire world. Pain, sadness, lonliness, hurt, anger, fear, all those feelings, all powerful emotions.

A while after the attacks, even now, people blame Islam for the terror attcks, which is my religion. People who don't truly understand this religion blame all of the Muslims for these acts. There may be a few bad Muslims out there, but not all of us are like that.

Just misunderstood. We felt the same pain everyone else did, we had lives lost, too. We felt the same disgust and anger at those who commited these attacks.

We need to stay united and strong aginst these terrorists, or we will perish. We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. That's what the United stands for in the name of our country, United States of America, USA.

* East St. Louis, IL
I'm from East St. Louis. Two years ago, I was in the United States Air Force for basic training. While I was there, an airman by the name of Christopher Grullon told us this story about his uncle. He told us that his uncle had helped some of the survivors escape the World Trade Center. I don't know if anyone is aware of this man, but I think that his recognition is long overdue. I could care less if people know who I am, I just want this man to get what he has deserved for three years. Let's make sure that a true hero get what he's owed by America.

* Long Island, New York
A very special person in my life survived the collapse of the World Trade Center, Tower One on 9/11. He is a Lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department, and was there, as he had been after the WTC was bombed nine years earlier.

I knew that he would be there; yet, at no point during that tragic day did I ever fear for his safety. In fact, I had a strange and powerful experience that afternoon that I offer here to share with others.

I was listening to the radio, as the images being televised were far too painful to witness. Standing before a bookcase whose shelves hold items that have spiritual meaning for me, it occurred to me that God was being called upon in every language, from every corner of the world that knew of that morning's events. I thought of the spiritual energy that was being released as so many left their physical form in losing their lives that day. It was then that I had an experience that seemed almost dreamlike, as I "imagined" what my ex-husband was feeling.

I "felt" him standing there, among the rubble of the WTC. It was if I could see what he was, as he looked upwards, towards the sky, and I also had a sense of what he was feeling, which was, ironically, a peaceful acceptance. An acknowledgement.

In October, my ex-husband and I had a chance to see each other--he was out on Long Island to attend one of the hundreds of funerals that followed 9/11. He was wearing his uniform; he looked healthy, but tired. We went to a local diner to have breakfast.

People were most kind and gracious to him. They thanked him; shook his hand; expressed their condolences; and then went about their way. I did my best to keep my emotions in check--what do you say to a man who has experienced what he has, and through him, what we all have.

I told him of how I felt as if I were "with him" that day, taking in what he had. I described to him what it is I sensed he did and felt. He responded by first reminding me that he was not a religious person, and always had doubts about the existence of God; but on 9/11, as he stood there among the collapsed towers, he said he did look up towards the sky at one point. He said that the ashes were falling so heavily that it reminded him of snow. It was then, he said, that he experienced an awareness that all was okay; that despite the horror, all was part of some greater order. Then followed a peacefulness, as he described it, that he had never experienced before.

He did not consider my experiences to have been a mere coincidence, as they so closely mirrored what he had; nor did he question the possibility of there having been a spiritual connection that allowed it to occur.

*Amber, Hayden, Alabama
After the 9/11 attacks I was scarred. Just like everyone else I judged Arab people. I was scarred to talk to one of my best friends because of her race. I lost my faith with god. I was questionig him. And that was wrong. I now know what the saying "Don't judge a book by it's cover" means. Don't judge someone by there race, don't judge them at all. And I think Americans make mistakes to, not just Arabs.

Selma Rahman, Florida
I am Pakistani and I live in a pre-dominant Jewish city. My sister who is in 6th grade has had to endure racial comments even till today from kids in her school. One kid called her a stupid afghani b*tch while another said since most of the school is jewish she might as well leave. There are those who are tolerant and understand but then there are also ignorant kids who are influenced by their parents beliefs.

*My husband and I are both Arab Americans. In the days after the tragedy, we received several threatening phone calls and emails from unkown individuals. We were very discouraged. A few days later, as we were driving down a busy street in Venice, we saw a hand made sign posted on a pole on the side of the street. It read:" We will not submit to prejeduce, we love our Arab and moslem communitee". This made up for all the past nasty comments we heard. We love our communittee as well!

Joseph Wadi, San Diego, CA
Shortly after 9/11, I was walking to my car after a night class at the local community college. As I was walking a group of young men in a car drove past me nearly running me over yelling, "Go home you sand nigger!". I knew then that things would never be the same for me here in America, no matter how long I had been an American.

* Flashpoints, KPFA, Berkeley
Five nights after 9/11 at 3:00 in the morning, four young white and Hispanic Americans stormed into a coffee shop owned by an Egyptian American and smashed the windows, overturned tables and shattered mirrors. When Lebib Saloma, the cafe owner, arrived on the scene, the police had caught the suspects and asked if he wanted to press charges against them. Saloma said no. Shaken, he began cleaning up the shattered glass in his café. It was the middle of the night and he was nervous, not knowing what was going to happen. About an hour later, at 4 a.m., the same young men who had vandalized his place returned. They thanked him for not pressing charges and apologized. Then they spent the next four hours talking and helping clean up. Fear and rage turned into forgiveness over fresh-brewed Egyptian coffee. Asked why he didn't press charges, Saloma said, "It was time to bring the anger down."

* Jodi, San Francisco, CA
Every day I walk to work through the Mission, a predominantly working class Latino neighborhood. I have come across signs on windows of homes reading "We support Arab Americans in These Times" or "Stop the Hatred" .... It is through these examples that I have come to realize that the events of September 11 have brought different cultures and races closer together and have allowed issues such as these to be more "in your face," even as you walk through your own neighborhoods.

On September 15, Frank Silva Roque shot to death Balbir Singh Sodhi in Phoenix, AZ. Roque allegedly killed Sodhi as part of a multiple-incident shooting rampage that included shootings at a Lebanese-American clerk who escaped injury, at another gas station in Mesa, and at the home of an Afghan family. (Arizona Republic, 9/18)

* In January 2002, four family members of people killed in the September 11 attacks traveled to Afghanistan to meet Afghan civilians who lost loved ones during the U.S. military campaign. One family the delegation met, the Basirs, told how their five-year-old daughter, Nazilla, was killed by an errant U.S. bomb. When Abdul Basir and Derrill Bodley, an American who lost his only daughter, Deora, on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, met, the two men exchanged photographs of their children and embraced.

"My daughter was the same age as her son," Bodley told reporters after meeting with another family whose son had died during an air strike. "It's the same kind of pain." (Global Exchange)

Two men on a motorcycle pulled up next to Sikh woman stopped at red light, and yanked open her door, shouting, "This is what you get for what you've done to us!" Then, "I'm going to slash your throat!" The woman raised her elbows to protect her neck and hunched over. She was slashed in the head at least twice before the men, hearing a car approach, sped off. (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/5)

* My name is Usman Farman and I am 21 years old, turning 22 in October; I am Pakistani, and I am Muslim. Until September 10th 2001, I used to work at the World Trade Center in building #7. I had friends and acquaintances who worked in tower #1 right across from me.

My phone rang and I spoke with my mother and told her that I was leaving, at that moment I saw an explosion rip out of the second building. Apparently, I was one of the last to leave my building, when I was on the way up in the elevators; my co-workers from the office were in the stairwells coming down. When I evacuated, there was no panic. People were calm and helping each other; a pregnant woman was being carried down the stairwell.

We were evacuated to the north side. 5 city blocks later I stopped and turned around to watch. The next thing I remember is that a dark cloud of glass and debris about 50 stories high came tumbling towards us. I turned around and ran as fast as possible. I was on my back, facing this massive cloud that was approaching, it must have been 600 feet off, everything was already dark. I normally wear a pendant around my neck, inscribed with an Arabic prayer for safety; similar to the cross. A Hasidic Jewish man came up to me and held the pendant in his hand, and looked at it. He read the Arabic out loud for a second. What he said next, I will never forget. With a deep Brooklyn accent he said "Brother, if you don't mind, there is a cloud of glass coming at us, grab my hand, lets get the hell out of here". He helped me stand up, and we ran for what seemed like forever without looking back. He was the last person I would ever have thought who would help me. If it weren't for him, I probably would have been engulfed in shattered glass and debris.

Please take a moment to look at the people sitting around you. Friends or strangers, in a time of crisis, you would want the nearest person to help you if you needed it. My help came from a man who I would never have thought would normally even speak to me. The one thing that won't help, is if we fight amongst ourselves, because it is then that we are doing exactly what they want us to do, and I know that nobody here wants to do that.

In San Mateo, CA, a three year-old Sikh child was hit in the head by gasoline bomb thrown through the window of her home. The bomb did not explode. (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/18)

* After 9/11, the windows of a café Nick Heydarian owned in San Francisco were smashed by vandals and anti-Arabic symbols had been written on the building. "San Francisco is a city of love," Nick said. "I am about love. I'm not about hate. I grew up in this country. I grew up in San Francisco and I even grew up in this neighborhood. I'm not afraid of anything -nobody is going to beat me up." He vowed to spend all night at his café with friends, saying, "The door is going to be open and all the people who want to support me are going to come over to the City Blend Café. We're going to have a good time partying - and we're going to dance and eat and we're going to show them we aren't afraid of them." (Global Exchange)

An American-born Muslim woman and her children were chased from a Laramie, WY Wal-Mart by angry shoppers yelling for her to "go back to her country." (Associated Press, 9/11)

* Termite TV Collective, Philadelphia PA
In my neighborhood, there's a Palestinian store which I pass by every day on my way to work. Recently, someone broke their door. It made me angry. I read in the paper that it's our patriotic duty to buy more. So nowadays I make it a point to stop in at the Palestinian store and buy tahini and lentils as an act of patriotism.

Watch the video

A 12 year American Airlines employee escorted off AA flight from Seattle to Dallas with another passenger of Arab origin. They were informed "the pilot does not feel safe with you guys on board and we have notified the FBI to come here and question you." Interrogation and background check were performed by three Seattle police officers, after which they were permitted to board a later AA flight to Dallas. Apologetic stewardess later informed them that pilot of second flight was asked by the FBI agent if he feels comfortable flying with "two Middle Eastern men." (ADC, 9/26)

* Ahmed Nasser, the police officer featured in CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE, Brooklyn, NY
At work I felt right at home, my co-workers were very sensitive, and helpful. I often received kind words. "How is everything with you and your family" is a phrase that will stay with me. All of my co-workers knew that Sept. 11 was especially difficult for me, being an Arab-American. I am grateful for being among such friends. After Sept. 11 I came in contact with other Arab-Americans and Muslim American police officers, and began to discuss our needs as officers and what we could do to improve our situation. We organized an association that would allow us to come together whenever there is need. The American Muslim Law Enforcement Association was formed In December 2001, with the effort of six members. It served as a refuge for American Muslim law enforcement officers from all over the U.S. The association met with the leaders of the community at several occasions and was able to assist with the voter registration program among other activities. We also distributed helpful information (telephone numbers concerning civil rights issues, hate crimes etc.). There was an incident that involved the local Muslim School at 20th Street and 4th Ave. in Brooklyn where Muslim students were attacked by other students from neighboring schools. Members of the association escorted the Muslim students to the subway station, since the attacks were allegedly based on racial motivations.

Two Spanish-speaking women were harassed and one beaten by woman in a Los Angeles doctor's office. The woman allegedly yelled, "You foreigners caused all this trouble" before attacking them. (Los Angeles Commission on Human Rights, 9/12)

* Reverend Khader El-Yateem, the minister featured in CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE, Brooklyn, NY
Our church held a walk of faith candlelight vigil. We walked together in the community to show our unity and our commitment to our goals. We ended the walk at Cannon Ballpark and we held a prayer to reinforce the idea of peace, tolerance and understanding.

Five public high school students were sent home for their safety after a note was found at their school in Palmdale, CA threatening World Trade Center attacks would be avenged September 18 with a "massacre" with their names listed beneath. (AP, 9/20)

* Martha Dominguez, Albuquerque, NM
The Islamic Center of Albuquerque and Congregation Nahalat Shalom invited people of all faiths to participate in a peace pilgrimage between a synagogue and a mosque on April 13. Over 800 people participated in the pilgrimage walk, various community speakers expressed their support for the voices on all sides who remain committed to honoring the dignity and security of both peoples. They spoke about how, at a time of despair after the inhumanity of September 11, we have to choose hope. As people of faith, we remain committed to a future based on mutual recognition. An enduring security for Israel inextricably linked to a secure and viable Palestine that, at long last, realizes the dream of freedom. The 800 people walked 6.6 miles through the center of Albuquerque. During the walk, people released white doves for peace, and carried signs that read "Salam and Shalom". Prayers were part of the march from beginning to end, and the pilgrimage made stops at various areas of the community. Peace and unity was the chant of the people as they walked.

A turban-wearing Sikh in Connecticut was threatened by second-grade classmate (age 8), who said, "You better watch out - you're going to get beat up." She later explained to the principal, "He looks just like the guys they said did it on TV." (AP, 9/20)

An Islamic school principal, driving home with his sister and three children in Sunrise, FL, was chased by men in a Jeep. The Jeep driver reached behind seat, yelling 'Where's my gun? Let me take care of them." Principal called 911; when Jeep driver saw cell phone, made abrupt U-turn and sped off. (Sun Sentinel, 9/19)

Two men attacked, robbed and cut the penis of an Indian man, calling him an Arab and saying, "to be an American you must be circumcised," in Fort Wayne, IN. (MSNBC.com 10/1)

Neighborhood sign in Harrods Hill, KY read: "Arabs are Murderers." Man refused neighborhood association's request to take it down. Two Arab Americans live in the neighborhood. (ADC, 9/14)

FBI agents in Boston, mistaking her fiancé's last name with that of Mohammed Atta, dragged veiled Saudi woman down the corridor of Westin Copley Place Hotel, handcuffed and beat her leaving a six inch scratch across her face. She had accompanied her family on numerous visits to Boston for her father's medical treatment. Media reports of the incident did not refer to error or include a public apology by FBI. (Boston Globe, 9/16)

Ahmed Esa, a Yemeni American in Detroit, was fired from his 16-year welding job; told by boss to "go home, you are Arabic, you are Muslim. Go home, pray to your leader, go to your mosque and pray. I don't want to see your face." (Detroit Free Press, 10/2)

An Indian American woman was followed out of a grocery store by three high school age boys. One pushed her against her car; another punched her in stomach and elbowed her in the back. As they left, said "This is what you people deserve." Eagen, MN. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10/2)

A Yemeni man working at newsstand in the Bronx, NY was hit on the head with a bottle by three men who dragged him to street, allegedly yelling, "You Arabs get out of my neighborhood. We hate Arabs! This is a war!" (Daily News, 9/30)

An intoxicated 75-year old man tried to run over Pakistani woman in a shopping mall parking lot in New York; he followed her into a store and threatened to kill her for "destroying my country." (AP Worldstream, 9/13)

An Egyptian American fired from Wal-Mart in Ashburn, VA. She was called into the back office at the store and questioned by FBI in early October. His coworkers became uncomfortable working with him. FBI and Wal-Mart would not comment. (Newhouse News, 10/17)

A 53-year-old man was charged with first-degree assault and attempted arson in Seattle, WA after dousing a car at Islamic Idriss Mosque with gasoline. When confronted by car owner, he tried to fire at him, 'squeezing a shot into the ground'. The man then drove his own car into a telephone pole. (Seattle Post Intelligencer, 9/13)


top





Broadcast Resources The Filmmakers Talkback Share Your Story Arab Americans Their Homelands The People The Story