Tag Archive | "September 11 2001"

11 Past 911

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Eleven years after, I still remember that fateful morning as if it were yesterday.  Much like today, it was a sunny Tuesday morning in the Metropolitan New York area.  But, that particular morning, the sunshine belied what would become – along with December 7, 1941 – an infamous date on the American calendar.


Informed that a plane had struck one of the World Trade Center towers, I tuned into the morning news just as a large jetliner made its kamikaze run into the other tower.  Awestruck, I heard the news just moments later of the attack on the Pentagon by yet another hijacked airliner and shortly thereafter of a plane crash in Pennsylvania, the cause of which was as yet unknown but would later be revealed as an act of heroism on the part of its passengers – preventing yet another prong of this carefully planned and orchestrated terrorist campaign against America.


I witnessed a President who appeared frightened and dazed and a Mayor whose career in public service reached, perhaps, its pinnacle in those tense hours and days following the attacks.  I observed the heroism of teams of police, firefighting, and emergency medical personnel, as well as the many first responders, ironworkers, and others who poured into the world’s greatest City in the days and weeks that would follow.


What I remember best about that day, however, was not the unmitigated evil of the foreign terrorists, but the love and unselfishness displayed by Americans of all walks of life, of every race, creed, and socioeconomic level.  It was a day when barriers were broken and lifetime bonds were forged, when each of us was given pause to shift our individual focus from ourselves to our neighbors, and when the resilience and generosity of the uniquely American spirit was on display for the world to witness.


As we commemorate the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and remember its victims from the World Trade Center towers, to the Pentagon, to the fields of Pennsylvania, let us also never forget our response, our unity of purpose, and our cooperation across political, social, and cultural divisions.  With God’s grace, we can muster the same levels of unity and cooperation in surmounting our future challenges, so that America – as it has for more than 200 years – will remain a beacon of hope to those from every land who seek freedom and opportunity.


Related Posts:


In the Name of God


Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience


Remembering 9/11






Remembering 9/11

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How time flies!  It was nine years ago that the most significant foreign attack on American soil occurred since the Revolutionary War, and with it came the sorrow, tears, anger, and ultimately fortitude of the American people.


As the second unprovoked attack on America in our nation’s history, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001 is another day in American history that will live in infamy, much like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on some sixty years earlier.  The events of 9/11/2001 left Americans stunned and saddened.  In the days following, as Americans watched the story play out on their television screens, shock turned to resolve to avenge the loss of life and bring to justice those responsible for the cowardly attack.


By the very next day, September 12, 2001, there were not enough flags available to meet the demand of Americans wishing to express their patriotism and solidarity with the families of those who had lost loved ones as a result of the attacks.  Inadvertently, our enemies had awoken a sleeping giant and given a purpose to a President and a Presidency that had struggled to find its voice and message in the early months of its Administration.


Suddenly, America was at war with radical Islam whose purpose it was to intimidate America and its allies around the world.  Revered as martyrs and patriots, the 9/11 perpetrators were celebrated in the Muslim world.  Yet, the leaders of Al Qaeda and other radical groups soon discovered and realize to this day that a united America would be tireless in exacting its justifiable retribution.


It is said that “time heals all wounds,” and nine years later, many Americans do not feel the same emotion as we did on that fateful day.  Yet, with the images etched in our minds and hearts, we will never forget.


September 11, 2010 finds America debating a new dilemma:  the intention of the Church of Islam to build a large mosque and cultural center near ground zero. This has created a firestorm of protest by families and loved ones of victims and first responders lost in the holocaust of 9/11.


America is a country that prides itself on freedom of religion.  Yet, there comes a time when all Americans, regardless of religious affiliation, should heed and consider the true meaning of the words of President John F. Kennedy when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”


Americans, for the most part, have no qualms about building mosques – or any other religious structures for that matter – on American soil.  Nor do they blame all followers of Islam for the heinous attacks.  Many do, however, consider the land near ground zero to be hallowed ground and do not wish construction of a structure that might be construed as a shrine to the perpetrators of the attacks.


If Islamic Americans and the Islamic world in general want to build a bridge of mutual respect with the rest of humanity, perhaps it should start here.  Then, we might all have hope of peace on earth to men of good will.


Related Posts:


In the Name of God


Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience


11 Paste 911



On the Horns of a Dilemma

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Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Friday the 13th arrived, living up to its reputation.  Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the man proudly calling himself the mastermind behind 9/11 will be tried not in a military trial, but in a civilian federal court in downtown Manhattan (New York City, for those of you not from the Big Apple).  Holder’s decision dovetails with President Obama’s plan to slam the doors on Gitmo, both literally and as an uncomfortable chapter in U.S. history that the President would rather have gone unwritten.


Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is not the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to face trial in New York City rather than at the hands of the military; one of his cohorts, Ahmed Ghailani, claims that distinction.  However, the administration chose, at the time of Ghailani’s trial, not to seek the death penalty.  One wonders, then, what is to become of the man who alleges to have pitched his evil plan to Osama Bin Laden, negotiated funding from the rebel Afghani leader, trained the assassins, and then blessed the systematic extinction of more than 3,000 innocent American lives.


The ramifications of Holder’s decision are both widespread and complex, and if you are interested in those legalities, start surfing the web.  I am not an attorney or a politician.  I am but a New Yorker whose city has been irrevocably altered by a handful of madmen.


If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is to attain a fair trial, as is his right under Constitutional Law, will he receive one?  The prosecution will have to journey to a mountain in Tibet to locate a single New Yorker yet to hear of and/or unaffected by the horror and tragedy of 9/11; New Yorkers, of course, do not live in Tibet.  But even if juror objectivity can be established, how can those jurors possibly be Mohammed’s peers, when his peers, by his own admission, are terrorists?


In the days shortly following 9/11, when the Bush administration linked Bin Laden to the fallen Towers and the 3,000-plus cold-blooded murders, I had thoughts of what I’d like to see happen to the terrorists.  At first, I thought it might be fitting to roast Bin Laden and his cronies over the still-smoking embers of Ground Zero; I meant this literally.  I added to this fantasy by envisioning the loved ones of those killed taking a pound of flesh, again literally, from the bastards.  One pound at time, strategically incised, would not kill them outright and would surely not kill them immediately.  They would have died a slow, torturous death. I thought this a fitting end for the filthy lot of them.  With the full knowledge that such fantasies might call bad karma to befall me, I maintained them nonetheless, struggling with my morals as a Christian and with my civic duty as a native New Yorker.


A part of me would still like to see Mohammed and his cohorts let loose into the streets of my city.  If the faint-hearted are afraid to venture there, imagine how the terrorists might feel, facing a righteously enraged mob unrestricted in addressing those who plotted for five years (according to Mohammed) to annihilate their loved ones. And some part of me would dearly love to see these proceedings televised.


The other part of me says that the dirty bastard deserves a fair trial, for that is the only way to preserve what the terrorists sought so hard to destroy and what they still seek to obliterate.   Our justice system only works if it works for all, terrorists or not.  To deny the self-proclaimed architect of 9/11 a fair trial is to negate the tenets underpinning our Constitution.  And the toppling of the Constitution was their ultimate objective, not merely the felling of two mighty skyscrapers and their occupants.


Having said that, I hope the bastards do get the death penalty once they are tried as fairly as we can manage within our system.  And I hope that the executions are televised, to send a small message to every other anti-American murderer, including terrorists-in-the-making.


In the words of Jesus Christ, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.  And render unto God what is God’s.”   The execution of Mohammed and his followers for their crimes of terrorism would kill both of those birds with a single stone.

In the Name of God

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World Trade Center Attack

“I’ll see you later” is a phrase uttered millions of times daily throughout the United States.  Implicit in the phrase is a confidence that all is well and that the speaker will actually be able to fulfill the promise of “seeing,” at a later time, the individual to whom the phrase is spoken.


Eight years ago, on September 11, 2001, thousands of individuals working at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as the passengers of United Flight 93 were unable to keep their promises because of the actions of a small, but coordinated group of deranged individuals.  I call them deranged, because they presumably believed that their actions were achieving the Will of God.


Recorded history is replete with acts of violence, murder, war, and oppression — all carried out in the name of the Almighty.  Often times, both sides in a conflict considered that “God was on their side.”  Attitudes like these beg the question, “Does God have a side?”


I recall that, on that fateful morning, as I viewed the television images of ashen survivors fleeing the site of the fallen towers and courageous public servants rushing toward them in a largely vain attempt to save the victims, I didn’t see Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, or Buddhists — I saw only people, frightened and bewildered.  And, although I do not presume to put myself in His (I use the pronoun His without reference to God’s gender) position, maybe that’s how God sees us.


While the memory of that day fades in the minds of many Americans who will give no or only passing thought to the significance of this date on the calendar, it burns vividly and continually in the hearts and minds of those who lost loved ones.  And so, it is only fitting that each of us offer a prayer on their behalf:


May our Creator give peace to the souls of all the 9/11 victims, comfort to their bereaved families, and wisdom and insight into His Will to us all.  Amen.


Related Posts:


Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience


11 Past 911


Remembering 9/11





God, the Economy, and Chess

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Like the fiery avalanche that felled the Twin Towers, 9/11 ripped through our collective consciousness and continues its ripple effect.  Who among us in the metropolitan area has not, in that horrific blink of an eye, suffered an irreplaceable loss?  Who of us is not acquainted with someone snatched from the jaws of death that day by a seemingly random quirk of fate?  As a native New Yorker with her feet now planted on Jersey soil, my connections to those once-mighty towers include the father-in-law who had helped erect the exoskeletons designed to withstand all but the unthinkable, and a sister-in-law who narrowly escaped with her life and that of her unborn child.  As a writer servicing the Central New Jersey area, my profession aligned me, briefly and irrevocably, with clients whose lives were forever altered by the events of September 11, 2001 — individuals whose experiences altered my own perceptions of self, God, and the interconnectedness of every living creature.


These individuals include the sole surviving employee of the prominent investment firm, Cantor-Fitzgerald (not the CEO who appeared extensively afterwards in the media, but a salaried worker).  Minutes before a twisted kamikaze rammed the hijacked plane through the skyscraper housing the firm, this woman was sent to fetch breakfast for her managers.  From a coffee shop on the street she was thus positioned, like a queen on a chessboard, out of harm’s way.  Another client, a registered nurse who’d ministered to some of the victims of the World Trade Center, confided to me things so heartbreaking and shocking that I have never repeated … or forgotten.


There were other clients, of course, immediately following 9/11.  But of all the strangers whose lives intersected with mine in the wake of this national tragedy, one remains foremost in my mind.  And there she will remain until the day that I quit this earth.


A professional woman so beautiful and regal that she could have modeled, she had been born abroad, educated well on American soil, and was respected in her field; in other words, a woman not given to flights of fancy.  After conducting our business, our talk turned inevitably to what had recently taken place beneath the Statue of Liberty’s eyes, including human courage and Divine intervention.  The client informed me that one of her close relatives had been born with the double-edged sword of clairvoyance, enabling her to predict, without fail, natural disasters of a very specific nature.   When manifested, the woman’s gifts had been documented and published by objective, qualified scientific personnel.  What remained undocumented and what my client confided to me were the less spectacular aspects of her foresight, the ability to foretell things as easily as a person beholding a cloudy sky and predicting rain.


Whether or not we have purposely sought them out, most of us sometime in our lives have encountered people with such gifts.  These complete strangers will divulge some hidden nugget of truth so deeply personal and so accurate that their very utterances send the hairs, one by prickling one, rising up along our bodies.  Strong, instinctual reactions such as this are often attributed to confronting The Truth with capital “Ts” (that from which there is no escape). What my client relayed to me via her relative, with respect to 9/11, raised the goose bumps on my own body as if in the face of unstoppable sirocco.


“We are being repositioned,” my client quoted with conviction.  “God is sending us all — the good, spiritual people, that is — to where we can do His will most effectively.  We may resist and rail against these changes.  We may be very surprised by where we land.   But go we will, for it is impossible to deny the will of God.”


Time and again, this haunting prophecy comes back to me; given the state of the economy, it returns lately with increasing frequency.  If 9/11 sparked the beginning of our worst economic decline since the 1930s, is God using the marketplace as a catalyst for this great, presaged shifting of humanity? Loss of income, loss of material possessions, and the accompanying loss of pride will, and is, moving many of us into strange new geographic and psychological territory.   Ripped of what we had once taken for granted and finding ourselves on a more leveled playing field with our fellows, what will become of us as individuals, a nation, an entire world?  Will we rediscover our compassion and share our remaining resources with others?  Will we, like the wise Native Americans whose example we refused to follow, take only what we really need?  Or will we revert and like cavemen, fight tooth and nail for a piece of whatever is needed to survive?  Will we, in the end, become nothing more than chess pieces on some cosmic board, moved at the whim of an Almighty hand?


Like the Push Me-Pull You in Doctor Dolittle’s world, I am of two minds with respect to this prediction that, eerily, appears to be coming to fruition.  Part of me is tired of fighting the good fight, tired of acting in a lawful and responsible manner while the bloodsuckers at the top of the food chain get away with murder … well, at least, corporate bailouts equating to financial immunity and stability.  That part of me embraces the ideology behind the old R.E.M. hit, “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine!”


The other part of me balks at the notion of being a pawn; that part cites the power of free will.  If we operate under free will (and the headlines, obviously, confirm that we do), do we not possess the stamina and intelligence to change our circumstances, to pull us up by our own bootstraps?  Do we not possess the ability to view the tanked economy as a huge and largely unprecedented opportunity — a door opening onto a brave new world, a true renaissance in every sense of the word?


If I had the answers to my own questions, I would not be writing for a living. I’d be making hand over fist as the greatest seer of our time, greater than my client’s kin.  The only answer I do have is couched in the advice of a much loved and at one time, much maligned celebrity.  In coming to terms with her own revelation, in which she found joy and wonder and spirituality, Shirley MacLaine has stated:


“Perception is everything.”


Indeed, it is. 

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