A Remembrance Of Things Past-9/11

I can hardly forget where I was on that fateful day seventeen years ago.  I was at the Board of Trade.  I had just faxed off a copy of a client's statement to them in New York that morning.  I knew something was up because the television was on and tuned to CNN.  I didn't think much of it at the time.  I saw that little blurb at the bottom of the screen that announced that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  THAT caught my attention because I worked for Cantor Fitzgerald at the time and our main office was located in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

I still didn't think much of it because I assumed that the airplane was a single engine plane that might have done some damage but hardly anything to worry about.  I was aware that a similar accident had befallen the Empire State Building some thirty years before and simply assumed that's what happened THIS time.  Little did I know how wrong I could be.  It didn't take too long before I was disabused of my assumption about a small plane hitting the World Trade Center as I saw the pictures of the VERY large jet plane wedged in the middle of the North Tower.  Suddenly I became very aware of the seriousness of the situation, both from a personal and professional point of view.

What strikes me now and what struck me then was the fact that I really couldn't wrap my mind around the tragic event that was unfolding before my very eyes.  It was too fantastic.  Which only made the second crash even that much more surreal.  Intellectually I knew and understood what was happening, but psychologically I couldn't believe my own eyes.  This couldn't be happening.  It was too big, too amazing to actually be true.

Most of the rest of the day was a blur for me.  Like everyone else I was hoping that the conflagration in the twin towers could be contained, that the first responders would find SOME way to save all those people helplessly trapped inside.  And then, of course, the North Tower collapsed to be followed shortly by the South Tower.  When the news of a third act of terrorism at the Pentagon was broadcast, the Board shut down and we were all sent home.

I lived within walking distance of Cantor so somehow I found the strength and energy I needed to trudge my way back to my apartment.  What struck me at the time was the silence.  All air traffic had been halted and I wasn't hearing the familiar roar of jet engines overhead.  Many things flashed through my mind as I walked the two miles back home.  I still couldn't accept the magnitude of the tragedy that was still unfolding so many miles away.  All I could think of was the people I knew in our New York office, hoping against hope that somehow, some way they could have been spared, which of course they were not.  Over five hundred Cantor employees died that day.

As I look back on the events of seventeen years ago, I can't help but wonder how anyone could have thought they were doing anything useful or constructive with such a horrific attack, not on America, but on humanity itself.  How could people who professed that they believed in a Supreme Being think they could effectively send a message to the United State in such a savage and inhumane way?  Didn't THEY have friends and family?  Didn't they realize what they were doing to people who had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the political issues they were trying to protest?

At first I wanted to lash out, to GET those responsible for this horrible crime against humanity, to see that they got their just desserts.  Over time I got over the need for revenge.  I couldn't see how taking MORE lives made up for the loss of all those innocent souls.  What strikes me even up to this very moment is how little we've learned.  Terrorists are still finding ways to envelop innocent people in a web of death and destruction.  The forces arrayed against terrorism are still following the Biblical concept of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, without so much as advancing the cause of peace one iota.  And I can't help but wonder how long we're going to follow this cycle of death and destruction until we, as human beings, come to understand that there HAS to be a better way to redress our grievances against one another.

As I contemplate the end of my own existence on Planet Earth, fighting what will probably turn out to be a losing battle against cancer, I try as hard as I can to be optimistic about the future.  I don't blame one particular religion or religion in general, but I can't help wondering what a God of Love thinks about the human race.  I ask myself if God ever regretted having created humanity in the first place.  And I have no answers.  I don't blame God.  We human beings have free will and we are fully capable of making our own decisions.  I only hope that the God I worship is something more than a disinterested bystander, that when we human beings ask God for the grace to be able to do God's will that God will shower humanity with an abundance of such grace and understanding and that we humans will be smart enough and obedient enough to accept that grace!

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