It’s been ten years. The anger has wafted away, but the sorrow still remains. The destruction of New York’s twin towers changed life in North America as we knew it. No longer were bombed embassies, blasted hotels and fire-ravished buses with tourists, something that happened to people we didn’t know, who lived in places we’d never been to.
Now it was on home turf and for those who missed Pearl Harbour and the Bay of Pigs, it was a startling reality check. Terrorists were no longer boogey men who murdered in Egypt, Israel, Algeria, Pakistan, Nairobi, Yemen, India, and other faraway places. They had arrived on our shores with their venomous agenda.
And, so ten years later, has the fear retreated? Did it make us feel safer that several months after 9/11 Guantanamo held 536 Al Qaeda devotees or that Saddam and Bin Laden were later captured and killed?
How could it? One only has to consider the continuing terrorist turmoil in our world including the Bali bombings in 2002, the Madrid train bombings in 2004, the American Embassy attack in Yemen in 2008, and hundreds of other violent incursions into our everyday life. Not here, but over there.
My friend Pat from Atlanta Georgia was celebrating a family birthday in England in September 2001, reveling in the pageantry of Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and other historic tourist sites.
Taking the Chunnel to Paris, Pat and her daughter checked into a small hotel where they were greeted by their Parisian host, who immediately offered his sympathy. Pat had no idea what he was talking about and so he ushered her behind his counter where a television set showed footage of hundreds of New Yorkers enveloped in grey crud, running for their lives.
As Pat recounted the story to me this week, her eyes filled with tears remembering the horror of that day and the kindness of strangers. At Pat’s hotel a meeting room had been set up for the hotel’s American guests where they could be together to share their shock, vent their anger and cry their tears.
France was also in mourning and in recognition of the enormous loss of life, church bells rang throughout Paris, a clanging that brought comfort to my friend.
Days later she was on a plane back to Atlanta, where at one of America’s busiest airports she stood on the arrivals floor. There was not another soul in sight.
Months passed and as she was driving in downtown Atlanta, she suddenly burst into tears, as feelings of despair and loss overwhelmed her.
Now, as Pat tells me her story, the grief resurfaces. She says it’s not enough to remember just once a year. She wonders why it has taken ten years to complete the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. She prays for America.
We should all pray for America.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang