That Day and Beyond
I’ve never written about my own experience the morning of the terrorist attacks before. I’ve wondered why I couldn’t bring myself to do it but could only assume that it was because my own experience seemed so insignificant in comparison to others.
I was at home that morning and speaking to a friend when he said to me that something strange had happened in New York, I asked what and he said I think you better turn on your television. I turned it on CNN just in time to see the 2nd plane hit the tower. We were both silent for what seemed like ages but couldn’t have been longer than just a few moments. I heard him clear his throat and knew he was about to ask me what I thought we had just witnessed. I didn’t know, all I knew was that it felt like time was standing still. I wondered why I wasn’t horrified at what I was seeing, instead all I felt was numb all over. I remember saying "that wasn’t an accident" to which he replied ok.
We sat watching the news thousands of miles apart neither of us speaking for long periods of time. I remember praying that the towers wouldn’t come down.
He had a theories which he went on and on about as I watched the television with a mixture of disbelief and something else that I couldn’t identify until moments later when they announced that the Pentagon had just been hit. At that moment I knew exactly what I was feeling and that was rage.
I told him I had to go which he already knew as I had family members both at the Pentagon and at Dulles Airport. I made the calls that I needed to and found that my family was safe. All that could be done was to wait and to watch.
I watched the people scrambling to leave the WTC, I saw the Firemen and Police go in the buildings. I saw the South Tower collapse, Flight 93 go down and then the North Tower collapse soon thereafter.
I remember sitting here alone clutching the phone tightly in my hand as my anger built and built. I guess I knew from the beginning that we were dealing with Islamic terrorists but I didn’t know which. I wondered about the President and what he would do once the smoke cleared so to speak I didn’t know how I felt about the President because prior I wasn’t a Bush supporter. I didn’t vote for him or hold much confidence that he either could or would do what was necessary. I knew I wanted retaliation not just for the sheer senseless horror of the lives lost at the WTC or on Flight 93. But also for the audacity of the attack on the Pentagon. As important as it was to find out who was behind these attacks I also wanted answers on how anyone could get close enough to the center of our Military to do this. I come from a Military family, the success of this attack was incomprehensible to me.
People always ask how 9/11 has changed us both as a country and as individuals. I know for me it was the day I stopped crying at the drop of a hat. I used to cry over everything. I could get teary eyed over commercials on the television. But I didn’t cry that day and I didn’t cry for days and days afterwards. At the point when I believed I would probably never cry again I did. I was watching a Fireman, an older man searching through the rubble of the WTC for the bodies of his 2 sons also Firemen. I remember him speaking, trying to sound as though he had accepted their fate and only wanted to lay them to rest, But his eyes could not hide that glimmer of hope he had that he would find them trapped but alive. It broke my heart to see his pain and I suppose he became the symbol for me of all the loss we had experienced that day. Then I cried, I cried for him, for his sons and for us all.
I’m still angry and this is something that bothered me deeply for awhile. I didn’t want to live the rest of my life with all of this anger inside of me and hoped that I could find a way to deal with it. It took me a long time to understand that anger is not a sin, the sin would only be what we do with that anger.
A couple years ago I was chastised by another commenter on La Shawn Barber’s blog who told me that I had to forgive those who committed these heinous attacks. I remember being irritated with the man because he couldn’t tell me who I was supposed to forgive, who had come forward asking for forgiveness? How was I to be expected to forgive someone who was saying I did this and I’m proud of it and if possible I will do it again and again?
I haven’t turned my anger against all Muslims which I think would be an easy thing to do since so very many proudly claim their support for those who attacked us. Like so many others I get accused of doing just that because I support the war in Iraq as well as the one in Afghanistan. It’s a stupid criticism but one people like me are used to by now. What is not understood is that our support isn’t now nor has it ever been to destroy all Muslims or to put them in their place.We have instead turned our anger towards those who hold their citizens down, stripping away their dignity and rights. Murdering, raping, torturing and abusing them until they cry out for God only to be instructed that the God they seek wants them to murder and maim in his name.
In the movie Yes there is a scene of conflict between the Muslim man and the American/ Christian woman. He is giving her a laundry list of all of her/ America’s crimes. He says to her that we America hear their ( the Muslim world’s) children cry and we turn our backs. The writer could have used this opportunity to set the record straight but instead clung to the generic excuse that he the Muslim man was confusing her the American woman with the rest of us.
There are many Muslims who have stood up in support of America and what she is trying to do. They respect our right to seek justice and they embrace our desire to give them justice and freedom as well in their own lands. They have bled with us and towards them we will be forever grateful.We stand in awe at their bravery.
The following is not for them but for those who refuse to see us for who we are.
The truth about the "rest of us" is that, we hear your children’s cries and our hearts ache to push that pain away. We act to free them and you from the bonds of oppression and suffering but so many of you can not see that because if you did it would require you to make a stand beside us, The us that you only see as aggressors, murders, and Imperialists. The us you convince yourselves only want to take from you, your land and your oil. Your forget that some of your land is soaked with the blood of those of us who came seeking justice but made your freedom part of our mission.
You can not see the truth of us without first accepting the truth of you and that is unacceptable, and so the war between us will continue on.