\"\"I can remember the attacks of 9/11/2001 as if it were yesterday.  I was at work when a coworker heard on her radio that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center buildings. At first we all thought that this was a terrible accident. None of us were too surprised in that here in NYC and especially in lower Manhattan there are all kinds of planes and helicopters flying around.  Periodically we hear about a crash of one of these flying machines. I thought it was one of these small crafts that hit one of these buildings.

We all tuned our cassette-radios to the local news radio station which is 1010 News on AM. We were horrified to learn that it was not a small plane. We learned that it was a large commercial plane that hit one of the towers.  In my mind I wondered how could this happen? It brought to mind the many times I flew in from Ohio, going to LaGuardia Airport. On the planes I traveled on, they would all work their way to Manhattan and fly up the west side of the island and swing around for an approach to the airport. If you’re sitting on the right side of the aircraft, there is nothing more beautiful than seeing the island of Manhattan from the air. It was as if we had to say hello to this great city before we could land in Queens.

We were all talking about the terrible mistake this was. We were also talking about the effect this was going to have on the families of those both on the plane and in the building. We were all in a state of shock. How could this happen? Was it pilot error or an error in the control tower?

Before we could catch our breath another plane hit the second building. We soon found out that four planes were hijacked by Islamic terrorists. Two were flown into each of the buildings at the World Trade Center, one was flown into the Pentagon and the last crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

The visions that will stay in my mind forever are those of the planes going into those buildings and when both of those buildings came crashing down. All of those images, to this day, leave a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I work for the Federal Government and part of the requirement to getting this job was that I had to take an exam. I took that exam in a building that is located right next to World Trade Center. That building was badly damaged, during the attack, but it is still standing and is being used today.

Many people around the country think that New Yorkers are so overwhelmed by the amount of activity that goes on here, that we are unable to experience any kind of emotion. Some think that we walk around with blank expressions, traveling from one part of the city to another. These thoughts are very far from the truth. Every time I went to that part of Manhattan, I felt proud to stand where the economic power of the world existed. These buildings were so awesome that cloud cover kept me from seeing their tops when I looked up at them. I even remember riding up to the observation tower of one of the buildings. The sight there left me breathless.

The day when these terrorist attacks took place, all of all of our cell phones became useless paper weights. Nothing worked. After a few hours, I was able to contact my oldest son and my main concern was for his well being.  “Are you Ok?”  I asked.  He quickly responded by asking me if I was OK. “After all you’re in Manhattan where the attacks took place” he said. That is when the enormity of this whole situation hit me. The truth is that I do work in Manhattan. This was the first time I got emotional about what had happened. At the same time we began to see some of the survivors of this horrific act. We knew who they were because their whole bodies were covered in dust. The transit system was shut down, so these people had walked from downtown Manhattan to where we were on the Upper West Side, some 80 blocks. I cannot, then or now, imagine what was going on in their minds.

In the ten years since these terrible acts, I have tried, as a positive parent, to keep my kids focused on what really happened on that day. It is true that Islamic terrorists took credit for killing all those people. What I have tried to impress on my kids and anyone else who will listen, is not to make their religious affiliations the central issue.  These groups of people are criminals who happened to be Muslim. I feel that the whole point of terrorism is first to instill fear into its victims and second through that fear have those victims at odds with each other, each placing blame on the other for being the cause of whatever the horrific act was.

All of us who are positive parents must work even harder to instill in our kids that they must be able to separate the criminals from their affiliations.  We should not condemn a whole group for the actions of a few. We must go after those criminals and hold them accountable for their acts. At the same time we must teach our kids that we live in a great country and that our freedoms should not be taken for granted.





This Post Has One Comment

  1. Julie Burton

    Thank you for tweeting the link to this important post, which has incredible relevance to me and my family today. My 16-year-old son is getting to experience your message first hand. He left a week ago for a 6-week study program in Israel. When he called us to tell us he got there safely, he also told us about his assigned roommates. “One of them is 6’6″ and from Argentina, and one of them is from Turkey, and he is Muslim, and they are both really nice,” he explained.

    Most of the kids on the trip are Jewish and I was so grateful that my son was given the opportunity to room with a Muslim boy from Turkey. I could not have asked for a better real life lesson on how to not pre-judge people and how, like you said, we need to separate criminals from their affiliations. I also would love the chance to talk to his Turkish roommate’s parents and talk to them about their choice to send their son on a program in Israel that is predominately attended by Jewish kids. I would say that was pretty brave of them…and I am really glad they did!

Leave a Reply