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Memories of 9/11…

I have no anger toward the people of the Middle East.  Nor do I hold ill will toward those people who follow the Muslim faith.  I don’t know the people who planned and carried out the attacks, so I can’t really say I hate any of them.  The actions were appalling and I hate such waste.

On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was at work.  Someone announced that there was a report on the radio that the World Trade Center was on fire.  Being a telecommunications company this could possibly have impacted us so we wheeled the tv out of the conference room and try and get reception to watch the news.  When we got fuzzy reception, in the middle of a live feed from New York, we witnessed a second plane crashing into the towers.  It was devastating, the United States was under attack.  Working in a central office, the building went into immediate lock down.  We were required to wear our corporate id at chest level so that it could be easily seen by anyone passing by.  Interior and exterior doors were locked and were to remain locked.  Contractors were ordered out of the buildings, and we employees were responsible for confronting anyone who we couldn’t identify right away.  The company also was allowing anyone who was too overwhelmed by the events the opportunity to go home.  Some people did, I didn’t.  Here in the Midwest we’re to far removed from it all.  To me, and many, it was news on the radio and tv, but nothing that effected us.

So my memory of that day is that I worked.  What else could I do?   The most prominent memory actually comes from a few days later.

My wife, daughter, and I were at the local mall, shopping and getting a little exercise.  We were walking down the mall when I spotted this little girl, about a year older than my own, standing in the crowd, lost and sobbing.  She was a tan skinned girl with long, dark, brown, hair, and enormous brown eyes.   She had become separated from her family by the crowd and being so small had no way to see her mother only a few feet away.  I could see her though as we walked in that direction.  Her mother had turned around with the panic in her eyes of a mother who has lost track of one of her children.  Also of a woman knowing that the majority of the people around you would do you harm if they thought they could get away with it.

As we approached the little girl, I crouched down to be on eye level with her.  Maybe let her feel that I wasn’t going to hurt her.  I kept my eye on the parents, the father who had also turned to look for his child looked angrily around.  The mother frozen in fear, I can imagine what was going through her mind, as she spotted this big, white man with a shaved head, dressed in black head to toe, bending down to talk to her baby.

I said “Hi” to the little girl and pointed toward her mother, “There’s your mom.”

The little girl choked back her last tear, smiled, turned and ran back to her mother.

I stood up and nodded at her parents.  There was no reason to say anything.  Their expression went quickly from panic to relief, from anger and confrontation to gratitude.  They knew that I only wanted to return a lost little girl to her parents.  These people who braved the bigotry and fear of the  masses to show everyone that they weren’t the same as those others.  They were just normal people wanting to live normal American lives.   They were in fact very much like my own family, and I couldn’t hold any ill will toward them.  They turned and walked away.  My wife, daughter, and I continued our stroll through the mall.  The only difference between those people and us was that they came from the Middle East and worshiped god through their Muslim faith.  That doesn’t make them bad people.   It doesn’t make them terrorists.  It just make them people.

Finally, to anyone who might have a say in the building that replaces the WTC.  On the ground floor of the building, at street level, devote a space for all religions.  Either one large area emblazoned with the symbols for each or an individual space for each and every major religion with a common lobby, so that people from every faith can meet and get to know each other as people and not as opposing view points.

  1. Big P
    September 18, 2010 at 9:01 am

    This is by far the most thoughtful, humanistic, profound 9/11 sentiments I have read. Reminds me of the PS of yesteryear. Good job!

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