Memories of Sept 11, 2001

southtowerhitThe thing that really stands out in my memories of Sept 11, 2001, is the astonishing unity of the majority of Americans – sadness, love of country, enormous anger towards our enemies.  Remember the members of Congress standing on the Capitol steps, singing God Bless America?

My friends, coworkers and I exchanged emails, as we tried to find ways we could help and honor those who had died in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. We joined in the candle lighting on the Friday after the attacks. We watched the service at the National Cathedral, where our President gave an uplifting address to the nation.

bushatnationalcathedralHe said, “It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. This is true of a nation as well. In this trial, we have been reminded and the world has seen that our fellow Americans are generous and kind, resourceful and brave.
We see our national character in rescuers working past exhaustion, in long lines of blood donors, in thousands of citizens who have asked to work and serve in any way possible. And we have seen our national character in eloquent acts of sacrifice. ……… On this national day of prayer and remembrance, we ask almighty God to watch over our nation and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come. As we’ve been assured, neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities, nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth can separate us from God’s love. May He bless the souls of the departed. May He comfort our own. And may He always guide our country.”

It seemed that almost everyone wanted to contribute, to give money, give blood, or donate time, fly flags, say prayers, light candles. We were united as a country as we had not been for a long time.


One of the emails I received contained an editorial from a Romanian newspaper. Perhaps you received it too. I’m repeating it here because I think it is an interesting assessment by an outsider of what America means.

Editorial from a Romanian newspaper by Cornel Nistorescu

Why are Americans so united? They don’t resemble one another even if you paint them! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations. Some of them are nearly extinct, others are incompatible with one another, and in matters of religious beliefs, not even God can count how many they are.

Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed on the streets nearby to gape about.

The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand. After the first moments of panic, they raised the flag on the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colours of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a minister or the president was passing. On every occasion they started singing their traditional song: “God Bless America!”.

Silent as a rock, I watched the charity concert broadcast on Saturday once, twice, three times, on different tv channels. There were Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson, Robert de Niro, Julia Roberts, Cassius Clay, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Silvester Stallone, James Wood, and many others whom no film or producers could ever bring together. The American’s solidarity spirit turned them into a choir. Actually, choir is not the word. What you could hear was the heavy artillery of the American soul. What neither George W. Bush, nor Bill Clinton, nor Colin Powell could say without facing the risk of stumbling over words and sounds, was being heard in a great and unmistakable way in this charity concert.

I don’t know how it happened that all this obsessive singing of America didn’t sound croaky, nationalist, or ostentatious! It made you green with envy because you weren’t able to sing for your country without running the risk of being considered chauvinist, ridiculous, or suspected of who-knows-what mean interests. I watched the live broadcast and the rerun of its rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who fought with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that would have killed other hundreds of thousands of people.

How on earth were they able to bow before a fellow human? Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit which nothing can buy.

What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases which risk of sounding like commonplaces. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion.

Only freedom can work such miracles!





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28 Responses to Memories of Sept 11, 2001

  1. MaryfromMarin says:

    Well worth watching [reposted from the General Discussion Thread]:

    BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience

    Liked by 8 people

  2. shiloh1973 says:

    This is on FB, but I hope you can watch the video.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. shiloh1973 says:

    It wasn’t just Americans either.

    Liked by 7 people

    • nyetneetot says:

      “Eric Draper, presidential photographer, White House: The Secret Service wanted to get him on the plane as quickly as possible. I figured that I’ve got to stick like glue to the president. Obviously, I know it’s going to be a big day. My goal was to find him as quickly as possible on board, but Andy Card said at the top of the stairs, “Take the batteries out of your cellphone. We don’t want to be tracked.” That brought me up. “Are we a target?” I wasn’t thinking of that.”

      At that point in time, American wireless telephone companies didn’t retain location data longer than necessary to make a connection. It was a legal liability nobody wanted. There were 3 or 4 third party companies that made systems that could be inserted into a working infrastructure to capture the data, but mostly it sold in South.American and Asian markets. There were E911 systems being developed that gave the location of the initial phone call, but live tracking wasn’t really implemented until 2003-2004.

      Liked by 2 people

      • stella says:

        Probably a Secret Service requirement. As you noted, there were companies that made systems that could capture the data, and the extra caution covered that possibility.

        Liked by 2 people

        • nyetneetot says:

          Introducing the system to an existing environment was a bit time consuming. Back then, it took up a whole rack at the least. The system had to know the exact location (and later altitude) of each and every cellular tower in the network to function correctly. A lot of RFID tracking technology was introduced into consumer products about 1998, but the device had to pass through a location with the receiving equipment installed.

          Liked by 1 person

      • lovely says:

        How hip to the exact abilities of technology do you think Andy Card was?

        Liked by 3 people

        • nyetneetot says:

          Technology was not the marketing blue smoke and mirrors it is today. The basic principles of cellular communication haven’t changed since the 1980’s. Salesmen stood in the large malls and handed out flyers explaining how it worked along with what major cities had some type of limited service at the time.
          The walky-talky we call a phone has changed, and the radio frequency that caries the signal has changed, but the infrastructure design remains the same.
          As chief of staff to the white house, Mr. Card may have been aware at the time of company products available since the mid 90’s

          Liked by 2 people

    • Menagerie says:

      I read that the other day. It was riveting. And heartbreaking.

      Liked by 3 people

    • stella says:

      I’m still reading – a little at a time!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. derk says:

    Thanks Stella, you’ve flushed my eyes and watered my cheeks. Love it.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. amwick says:

    Few people will recognize this child,

    Christine Lee Hanson (2 years old)

    The youngest victim of 9/11, Christine and her parents were aboard Flight 175 on their way to California for a vacation. It was also Christine’s first plane ride. Her father Peter was on the phone with her grandparents when the plane crashed into the South Tower.

    This is our connection to the awful events of that day… My husbands godson was best friends/partners with Peter and with the Hanson family. He ended up tending to the totally shocked grandparents and managing the services. He told us about it all. I still think of them flying off on a vacation, especially little Christine.

    Such a huge bewildering tragic event, and such a small sweet child…

    Liked by 8 people

  6. Col.(R) Ken says:

    I will never forget, never forget. I will never forget the enables in this Country who assisted this attack on our Country. Our own Countrymen who betrayed their Country, and Countrymen. These elites will pay, maybe not in this world, in the next they will.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. shiloh1973 says:

    I was at our local restaurant here in the small town I live in. There were about six of us having coffee at the counter before work. One gentleman preferred to have his coffee in the bar area so he could watch the news on the big screen TV. We heard him yell “Oh my God a plane just flew into the World Trade Center.” We all ran in and stood in disbelief at what we were seeing. Then the second plane hit and they all yelled, “what the heck is happening?” I told hem we were at war. The asked me who attacked and I said, “Osama Bin Laden.” None of them knew who he was. I told them that they would real soon.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Menagerie says:

    Thank you Stella. This is such a fine tribute and reminder of a day we will never forget.

    Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord. May the souls of your faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

    Liked by 7 people

  9. shiloh1973 says:

    I read this story quite a few years ago. 9/11 in Gander.

    Liked by 1 person

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