Every time I go through airport security, every time I hear about someone who appears middle eastern being persecuted, and every time people defend our actions in Iraq, I can’t help but think that the terrorists won. They made us fear an invisible enemy, made us afraid of our own people, and drove a wedge between all of us. That is what we should never forget.
Top 10 Good Things about 9/11
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10. We are cracking down on terrorism.
With the horrors of terrorism reaching so vast an audience, the world’s new focus on defeating terrorism may one day save us from each other and ourselves.
9. The odds are in our favor.
The chance of anyone dying today (or any other day) is always the same. The people who died on September 11th were beating the odds. Something as unprecedented as that occurs so rarely that few people should really worry for their own safety. The more catastrophic something is, the less likely it is to happen.
8. The world is made more aware of the problems with extremists.
Unfortunately, many people are persecuted for the actions of extremists claiming allegiance to their ideologies or religions. By understanding that the extreme minority that commits these horrible things, we learn tolerance for those who happen to call themselves by the same name as misguided idealists.
7. The United States of America
Though I have to admit it has faded back into party-divided debates, this country seemed–for a while–truly the United States. Some of us felt patriotism we never knew we had, while others took this as an opportunity to assert their nationalistic pride. But, we did not get this way by separating ourselves from the rest of the world, so we must continue to stand together.
6. We learned how buildings fall.
There is no way to crash test a building, and this unprecedented event allowed us to see the worst-case scenario take place. With every catastrophe comes a chance to defeat future ones.
5. There is an increase in civil service.
There is something poetic about the “crimson tide” that swept across this country. Starting about lunchtime on September 11th, and continuing for several days, blood banks started filling up all over the U.S. The terrorists wanted to spill the blood of their enemies, but instead many voluntarily did so to save their human cousins. People who were unable to do anything felt they had to do something. More blood was preserved that day than all the blood that was spilled.
4. We learned not to underestimate the evil of people.
By letting our guards down, we open ourselves to attack. But no one can (or should have to) anticipate a blinding shot out of nowhere. There may or not be a great evil at work in the world, but there is no debate as to the evil intentions of some humans.
3. We discovered what a true hero could be.
Ordinary people in extraordinary situations have always created the most heroic people in history. People who were “just going to work” changed the course of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of individual lives.
2. Many people grew spiritually.
Whether you are Buddhist, Catholic, Agnostic, Jewish, Muslim, Non-religious, Christian, Hindu, Atheist, you can identify to some degree with the tragedy that occurred that day. Though only the minutest fraction of Americans actually lost friends or family, we all watched the events unfold on television. We are fortunate enough not to have suffered such a loss, but that does not mean we do not empathize with the horror of that day.
1. You’re still here.
Smile. After all, you are still here. If you have been afraid or suffered a loss this past year, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.
Attack on America: My First Reaction
About an hour ago Kari woke me up talking about planes and hijacking or something. She was so serious that I hopped immediately out of bed and we flipped on the television. Slowly it occurred to me how serious this really was.
I saw the tower of the World Trade Center smoking like an oil torch, and as I sat there in disbelief they show an airplane slam into the other building. A terrible fireball poured out of the opposite side of the tower. Massive debris rained down on the streets of New York. I couldn’t believe it.
Then slowly-but-suddenly the walls began to transform into a cloud of dust and debris. The goddamn tower was collapsing! It seemed to take more than a minute for the tower to fall to the ground. A few moments later the top section of the remaining tower, which had been burning since I sat down to watch, suddenly began falling. As it fell, it took the rest of the building with it.
It was like something out of the movie “Armageddon.” I have been awake for an hour and this incident is only four or five hours old, so I’m sure there’s more to come. How many cameras were running when that plane hit New York City? I’ve always wanted to go to New York. Not that it was to be the reason I would’ve gone, but I always wanted to visit the World Trade Center. That is now impossible.
Since it is, after all, still a school day, Kari and I left for our one class for the day. I’m sitting in her class right now because my class (marching band) has been cancelled “in light of the awful national tragedy.” As we walk to the music building we saw that the women’s dorm next to the music building was evacuated. It occurred to me that I should’ve brought my camera. Girls and a couple of police congregated on the other side of the street from the dorm. Could the terrorists want to destroy an obscure dormitory in West Texas? I don’t think so. It was just the first sign of what (I think) is to come.
We walked through the music building that is connected to the University Center. Since the largest class on campus (band) has been cancelled (along with many others) the hallways were packed with people. Everyone was standing around with more or less the same stunned and confused looks on their faces.
Occasionally you would see someone crying, but most people appeared emotionally unaffected. It was clearly the topic of 90% of all conversations throughout the building (and probably the nation).
We walked through the UC itself and I was reminded again that I should’ve brought my camera. People were sitting all around the indoor courtyard and two televisions were set up and tuned to CNN. In a room with more than a hundred people in it (or more) it was decidedly quiet.
We made it through the UC and walked across the campus to Kari’s class. The sound of sirens confirmed to me that something (even if it really was nothing) was going on at that dorm. The three giant flags in Memorial Circle were at half-staff. I wonder if they were at full staff this morning. Did they have to be lowered at one point this morning? We moved through the Mass Communications building heading for Kari’s class and every room had a TV on. I wonder how many classes today will have the attack as the topic of discussion. Maybe it should be.
© 1999-2022 Eric P. Metze