Amanda D. writes:
"I was 11 when it happened. I had always felt so safe at home in my city. I felt that nothing bad could ever happen to me. But after 9/11, I realized that things could go terribly wrong and that they could happen to me. I became acutely aware that I am vulnerable all the time." (9/12/06)
Abdul-Majeed A. writes:
"Nothing else seemed relevant anymore. ... I was the only Muslim employee in my company but everybody was so supportive and understanding of what I was going through within. As an immigrant, I loved the United States prior to 9/11 but I became an American on 9/11 in the truest sense of the word." (9/12/06)
Marcia B. writes:
"I had hoped that in the conversation about 9/11 that I would hear some word of sympathy and understanding for the pain and suffering that is experienced in most countries of the world. From this upheaval and hatred one out of every 250 people on this Earth is a refugee from a terrifying, dislocating disaster. America has often caused innocent civilians to suffer just as we now suffer." (9/11/06)
Jerry S. writes:
"I was sitting a coffee shop in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The attitude in that coffee shop and throughout my stops in Chile and Peru was one of sympathy and condolence for America. Flags flew at half-mast and people went out of their way to show their solidarity with the United States. What has affected me most is to find that today affection for my country has diminished and the worldwide support we enjoyed in those days was soon squandered." (9/11/06)
Anne L. writes:
"My first reaction was: Maybe now America will start to think. Maybe now we will realize we are not special, that we are just another country with average people in it. But, no, there was no thought. There was only rabid patriotism: United we stand!, God bless America! I say, God fix America!" (9/11/06)
"In response to the round table discussion ['Americans Still Feel Impact of 9/11 on Life, Politics' (9/11/06)] ... Go into any bookstore and watch people in the political book aisle. There you will see how really divided we are in this country. People are intolerant of views they do not agree with and though they do not always say so, they think so and act so." (9/11/06)
Molly C. writes:
"My task on Sept. 11 was to talk with my first grade class and try to help them make sense of what had happened. We are in California, so though they had seen the televised shots of the planes in New York, they didn't have much information about what was going on. The television was still going in the teachers' lounge with staff who weren't in the classroom staring at it when class started. I began by asking the children what they thought had happened and I was able to dismiss some of the stories that were building momentum. But I verified that airplanes had flown into places with people in them and many people had died. I really didn't know what I would say to them until it came out of my mouth. I asked if anyone had ever heard the word 'terrorist.' No one had. I said that they would hear this word a lot in the future, and that terrorists were people who tried to scare other people by doing bad things to them. The children calmed down considerably when I told them that Riverside doesn't have tall buildings so there would not be planes trying to hit our buildings. And they were also reassured when they heard that if we got in our cars that day and drove all day for four days, only then we would be in New York. It was so sad to watch those children try to grasp this event that we all knew signaled a change in our world as it then was. Now it is probably about the only world they can remember. I wonder if they remember that day when they all sat at my feet while I tried to make sense of the inconceivable. I certainly do." (9/8/06)
Karen R. writes:
"Throughout the day, my colleagues and I were in and out of the break room to watch as things only got worse. I called a church I had attended in the past to find out if any special services were planned and left work early to attend. The freeways of Houston were practically empty as I traveled towards downtown -- eerie. I felt so much hate in my heart and did not want it. If I hate, if I lash out for revenge, then 'they' have won, I thought. I needed my spiritual community to help me overcome the darkness of my own soul." (9/8/06)
Maria D. writes:
"I cannot say that I forgive the evil that caused this event, but the deaths, the sacrifices, the losses created so much pain they lifted life and death into sacredness, into holiness. Sept. 11 can only make us stand in silence, and awe in the essence of all that we can feel in life. It is beyond anything we can understand. September 11 is too sacred to be used by any politicians to promote their agendas in any partisan way. It should never be used to instill even more hate in the hearts of men toward other men. It must be revered with silent awe, awe in the face of what hate can do and what evil in men's hearts can commit. It must be honored enough to force us to change our hearts, and find ways to resolve differences, not create more pain. There are three other events I can remember that can be compared to the same human failure and disgrace in these modern times: the Holocaust, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki." (9/8/06)
Temmy R. writes:
"As a handicapped person unable to escape the neighborhood, I took refuge in a local hotel where we all waited in fear for 8 hours before being asked by the New York City police to evacuate. Having caught a cab next to the Borders store at the World Trade Center at 8:40 am, just 6 minutes before the first plane hit, I feel blessed to have survived that horrific and surreal day.
I keep hoping someday I'll hear that the PATH train operations manager on 9/11 will be honored for saving hundreds, and possibly thousands, of lives that morning. It's my understanding this humble man made some incredibly hasty life-saving decisions with respect to a few critically important trains. I read in a small newspaper article in September 2001 that not only did he have the conductors keep the doors closed on the trains arriving at the World Trade Center and bring the commuters safely back to N.J., but that he also sent into New York City empty PATH trains to bring back the N.J.-bound commuters waiting on the platforms to get them out of danger. I believe he saved many lives that morning and is a hero to many people who don't even know it." (9/7/06)
Anne K. writes:
"I live within walking distance of the World Trade Center site but I work in midtown New York City. I avoided the truly horrific experiences of friends who worked downtown. For the most part I go about daily life as though the attack had never happened.
Nevertheless I still have increased stress reactions -- I jump at loud noises and feel a jolt if I see people running in business clothes. I am concerned about the effects on the health of workers at the site. I was fairly certain at the time that governmental assurances that the air was safe couldn't possibly be true. The odor was too strong and too foul." (9/7/06)
Brian W. writes:
"Sept. 11, 2001, changed the direction of the life of my oldest son and has touched our lives since. My son was recently on active duty with [an Army division] and engaged to be married the last week of September. Since Sept. 11, though my son did get married, he has spent the last five years either at war, preparing to go to war, or returning from war. I have learned the lesson that when one member of a family goes to war, the whole family goes to war. My son and his wife have given the first 5 years of their marriage to the country as a result of Sept. 11. I hope despite people's opinions of Iraq or George Bush, they will honor and remember all of the families who have sacrificed some part if not all their lives as result." (9/7/06)
Carla H. writes:
"Watching the fall of the towers on Sept. 11 made me realize that our country has become vulnerable. We thought terrorist acts only happened outside the United States. Now I never feel totally safe flying and I worry that our country has now become focused on keeping people from entering for the very reasons that many of our ancestors came here: to escape persecution and to have freedom in their lives. How sad that our world has come to this." (9/7/06)
Grace D. writes:
"I am a flight attendant. It was a sad day for our airline. I lost friends and colleagues. As is often the case the crew were heroes and first responders. The stories of courage, safety, and protection on the aircraft everyday may not make the front page news but we are there watching and aware. ... It could have been me on Flight 93. I had flown it all summer long." (9/7/06)
Daniel B. writes:
"Sept. 11 has weighed heavily on my mind, leading me to write this memorial poem:
Bound for Glory
In Memory of 9/11
Burning, falling, they cried save us!
Voices no one heard outside as
friends and co-workers and strangers
clutched each other or clawed
the insubstantial air, flying
down, down, down to death.
The living know that they shall die,
the dead know not anything.
the memory of them is forgotten.
So says Ecclesiastes of old.
Yet these dead shall live forever
in the memory and hearts
of millions of Americans,
yes, and even in hearts
far 'round the globe where
tears were shed that savage day.
Though these dead became one
with the earth of a Pennsylvania
field, geometry in Virginia and
fallen towers of New York -
these now-honored souls
will never, never die.
Theirs were the smiles, the love
and laughter cut short.
We living must never forget
how innocently, how bravely
they died at the hands of madmen.
Who are those who died that day?
Citizens of the land called Freedom,
they came in many colors,
spoke in accents of homes near and far.
We miss and mourn
the rainbows of their lives,
for each one was our child,
our parent, our sister and brother,
our lover and our friend.
Fire they say purifies. So these
flaming spirits, now bright with
the radiance of eternity, are
shining pure. Today, tomorrow and
forever, our pain of loss
must fire us to plant the seeds
of these souls to grow into
sacred trees of such towering strength
that they will never fall again.
As this forest of faith grows,
its green leafy boughs will reach
heavenward while its roots are
bound forever in the
embracing arms of the earth." (9/7/06)
Naseem R. writes:
"September 11 has been an agonizing experience for me as a Muslim American. I have lived and worked in an "All-American City" for the past 31 years. I have done my life's best work here. As a private citizen, I work with community wide grassroots organizations. I teach at [a local university]. I am an independent business owner and support family- and children- oriented programs with in-kind donations. Yet, on the Monday after September 11, the manager of the residential complex we had lived in for over 25 years lashed out at me in anger saying, 'Why did you come here?' And before I could reply, [the manager] screamed 'And if you came here, why did you stay here?' ... After September 11, as I engaged in Interfaith seminars, teach-ins, workshops and community-wide presentations on Islam and American Muslims, I asked that we as a nation, cultivate the rich diversity of Muslim Americans and their strengths to find common ground." (9/7/06)
Janice H. writes:
"I practiced law one-and-a-half blocks from the World Trade Center. I was not working that day. The attacks transformed my life and worldview. Nothing feels safe. Living in Manhattan was an ordeal. Flinching at every plane, planes flying too low for my comfort, walking past thousands of flyers depicting the missing, half of my firehouse gone, no doctors available, my church converted to a funeral home--all these events became common. Yet I barely suffered at all. So that the dead did not die in vain, I forced myself to go about my business despite the terror." (9/6/06)
Bob S. writes:
"Though I live far from New York and Washington, I was so shocked that I had great difficulty accepting and comprehending what happened on that terrible day. Prior to that day I used to love to travel, but since that day I have lost interest and only travel if I absolutely have to. Not out of fear but with the hassle I don't find air travel fun anymore." (9/5/06)
Andy V. D. P. writes:
"9/11 made me want to help, but because I was too old to join the Armed Forces, I found my own way of supporting our troops and the mission they were given. Today, five years later, I'm doing what I set out to do, still searching for ways to ensure our troops are as well trained as possible. If as a result of those efforts only one soldier learns a lesson that winds up saving his or her life, I feel I will have accomplished what I set out to do. So long as this struggle continues, I'll continue to look for ways to help bring our troops back safe and sound." (9/5/06)