Maggie Shortt - a police officer in the midwest

On September 11th, I was spoiling myself a little and sleeping in. I am a police officer in the Midwest and had been up rather late the night before. My husband is also a police officer. On the morning of the 11th, he was out working. The phone rang and I let the answering machine get it thinking that is was probably one of those annoying solicitors. I heard someone leave a message but didn't pay much attention to it. About 10 minutes later, one of my husband's pagers went off and I heard the dispatcher announce that all police personnel were now under high alert due to the terroist attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon. I ran out to the living room and turned on the television just in time to watch a replay of the second plane as it hit the tower. I numbly pushed play on the answering machine to hear the voice of my First Sergeant telling me that my own department was under high alert, and that I was to let my commander know where I was at all times. At that time, both towers were still standing. That didn't last long and I mourned for all the people and their families.

At the time of the attacks, I knew very little about Bin Laden or Afghanistan. I could point to Afghanistan on a map and tell you that they had fought and won a war against the Soviet Union. I could tell you that I recalled Bin Laden's name being mentioned in regards to several other terrorist attacks, but I couldn't tell you exact details about the man. Now I can. I can also tell you that I want him dead. As a Christian that's probably not how I should think. However, I've felt that way since Sept. 11th so I don't suspect that I'll be changing my mind on that anytime soon. About Afghanistan, I could also tell you that I knew they primarily follow the Muslim faith. I've known for years that the Muslim and Christian faiths are not all that different. The fact that Bin Laden has attempted to make this some kind of religious war shows, in my mind, what a coward he is. There is no way he can justify what was done and what his followers continue to do. They should leave the true Muslims out of this and stop giving that religion a bad name.

I really can't say that this has changed my view of the world all that much. Part of that has to do with my own lack of education as far as current world events are concerned. In the past, I didn't pay much attention to events that occurred outside the USA unless it was a monumental event such as the dismanteling of the Berlin Wall. Another part has to do with time itself. Will our current allies remain our allies in the future concerning this and other issues? Will the Muslim nations end up hating us or will they ultimately agree that we handled this the correct way?

My view of the American people waivers from good to bad depending on the day. After the attacks, I wanted to help so badly. I think everybody did. The amount of money and supplies and workers that flowed in was inspiring. I remember escorting several members of the Chicago Fire Dept. across my state on their way to New York on the 12th. They were so full of energy and hope. At that time the whole nation prayed that there would be many survivors to pull out of the rubble. We (fire, police, rescue) knew the reality of it but hoped for the best anyway. I never saw those guys again and I can't help but wonder if they're dealing with the horror that I'm sure they must have seen. I also remember the young man who followed my escort knowing full well what was going on and taking advantage of the situation because he felt that he would be able to speed across my state if he injected himself into our caravan. I also grew very tired of the calls where people emphatically demanded that we pull certain vehicles over because the occupants "looked" arabic and acted "suspicious." However, I am proud of the fact that the nation became so patriotic. I really hope it lasts.

Maggie Shortt