I'm a 50 year old woman who lives in Arkansas and has lived all my life there. On that particular day, my lover - who is from the Netherlands - was visiting in my home, and we were watching the morning news on television. We saw the pic of the first tower after the plane had hit it and said to each other, "What a horrible accident." About that time, we saw, live, the second plane purposely hit the second tower. We were dumbfounded and horrified, along with the rest of the world, to witness such an incomprehensible act of utter destruction. The scenes of the people fleeing from the crashing rubble... seeing people jump from those tremendously high buildings... all the rescue workers rushing in while everyone else ran for their lives... These were the impressions that still linger. In a magazine a few days later - I think it was Life or Time - there was a picture of people running as the buildings collapsed and a huge cloud of smoke and debris followed them. The lead person in that crowd happened to be of oriental heritage, and it struck me how similar the picture was to photos I had seen from the bombing of Japan during WWII and Viet Nam, the oriental people running away from that awful scene.
I learned after 9/11 how very little I knew about the world and terrorism. I think it was an eye opening event for many Americans. My Dutch lover was much more informed about the situation in the world than I was; Osama Bin Laden was a name she recognized, and she knew about Al Qaeda and terroristic events throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia that I and many others had never heard of. All I knew of the Taliban prior to 9/11 was that they took over Afghanistan and destroyed many of the Buddha statues that had stood for centuries; I was informed about this not because of the plight of the Afghanistan people, but because of the loss of the Buddhas as artifacts. I had also heard just a little about the maltreatment of women in Afghanistan, and only this because I happened to hear it mentioned on the Late Show with Jay Leno whose wife, Mavis, is active in the campaign for women's rights.
I am writing this from the Netherlands. On my jacket is a pin with a flag of the USA. At home, my car also bears a US flag. Most everyone I know is doing the same, showing patriotism, and we are calling each other more and listening better to the words and feelings expressed by those we love. Almost everyone I know has done some intensive soul searching and has experienced symptoms consistent with post traumatic stress. Almost everyone I know is suddenly very interested in world events and is hyper-aware of what is going on around them. How long will this last? Human beings are incredibly fickle, and, in a land where most everyone has everything he/she needs, it's very easy to be self centered. I know that for me and my family and friends, we are all making an effort to hold our dear relationships closer and to help other people who are not as fortunate as we are. I think it's a scandalous shame that it took something of this magnitude to shock us awake and make us actually aware of the rest of the world beyond the 3 minutes of world news highlights television offers us each day. I hope that we can bring our world politics and our sense of morality in line with each other and really take a leadership role that America should have taken long before now. Of course, that's just my opinion....