In remembrance of 9/11, I am sharing these excerpts from my written reactions eight years ago.
From 11 September 2001, “the act itself”:
On the way to work I heard a correspondent on the radio say something about how the act itself was shocking, but the fact that it happened was not. This is the scariest thing I’ve ever heard.
From 12 September 2001, “the aftermath”:
I do not want vengeance. I do not want more violence, and I especially do not want more civilians — innocent people, regardless of nationality — to die. I realize how serious this act was, and is, and I realize that our government will exact punishment on those it thinks are responsible. I also realize we may be wrong. If we ever thought ourselves invincible, that delusion no longer exists. The loss of life, of way of life, has been more than I expected. But it was only a matter of time, as the saying goes.
From 13 September 2001, “the current situation”:
Instead of discussing retribution, why don’t we consider how we got to this point? Can we see ourselves as others see us? Can we at least try? I’m disappointed and dismayed about what has happened, but I cannot sponsor the short-sightedness of an immediate campaign for more violence and destruction. If what matters most to you is a brief period of “got you back!” then clearly you should not be reading this ‘blog. I care far more about how this affects us as human beings than I do about what sort of tactics and politics make for good retaliation.
Also from 13 September 2001, “survivor”:
“After the crash, and amid the screaming, he started to pray out loud. ‘I said, “Jesus save me and these two guys with me.” Neither one of them complained.’”
From 16 September 2001, “the ignorant child”:
I am saddened to note that no one has come into our library and asked for any information on the situation in the Middle East, or U.S. foreign policy. But they have all been to Target to stock up on their American flags. The little plastic souvenirs are waving from many car antennae, flapping wildly as the wind hits them, as we drive fast and faster to war.
From 18 September 2001, “stop, look, and listen”:
And after you understand what we did in Afghanistan, perhaps you can consider that I am as proud to be American as any of you are, but I am unwilling to pretend that “American” can be equated with “good” or “right”. Just like human beings are imperfect, so are the countries they populate and run. We have made mistakes, and although I have shed many tears for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we must bring away from this not a sense of vengeance but a sense of understanding … or we have lost all those lives for naught.
You may wish to contribute your own story to Make History, a project curated by the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.