15 Sep 2001 The Change, by Kimberley Jane Wilson
On September 10, I went to bed thinking about what I should write for my October column. Two topics were on my mind that night, and both might have made interesting reading. Suddenly, neither one is very important. September 10, 2001 seems like such a long time ago.
Like most free-lance writers, I still work a day job. On Tuesday, September 11, mine took me to my office in Washington, DC. It’s located just a few blocks from the White House. It was an ordinary commute and an ordinary morning – and then everything changed.
After checking my messages and going over a few files, I logged onto the Internet to check the headlines. An incredible message was emblazoned across the screen. A plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn’t believe it. Weird things have been posted on the Internet in the past.
I was just about to go ask the receptionist if she’d heard anything when my phone rang. A friend was calling to ask if I was safe. Confused and uneasy, I asked what she was talking about. She told me two planes, not one, had been hijacked and deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center – and that another had just hit the Pentagon.
I got up from my desk and wandered down the hall to the conference room where I knew a TV was kept. My co-workers had already gathered there, and we watched in silence as the awful pictures were shown. Within minutes, the building was evacuated and I, like thousands of other folks, found myself trying to get out of DC.
I managed to call my husband and assured him that I was fine and would get home to Virginia as soon as possible. Even as I told him what was happening, something in the back of my mind screamed that this day just could not be real. Surely it was all a bad dream or a hallucination. The World Trade Center surely couldn’t be gone! The Pentagon couldn’t be on fire! But it was all true, and I couldn’t wish it away.
After walking for a few blocks, I was lucky to catch a cab to my mother’s home. The next hours were spent in a haze. Our only comfort were the phone calls to and from worried friends and relatives. Each conversation was the same: Yes, we’re okay. Yes, I saw the TV. No, I don’t know what’s going to happen now.
I went back to work on September 12. Riding past the Pentagon was heartbreaking. The huge black hole in the building looks like nothing but an open grave. I can’t look at it without weeping, yet I cannot look away. People I used to ride the bus with every day are probably hurt or dead. Thousands of Americans have been slaughtered, and the life I took for granted on September 10 is essentially dead as well.
Everything has changed.
The men who planned and enacted the attack on America were fanatics. They cared nothing for their own lives and loved death so much that they were able to gulp it down like water. How on earth do we fight that kind of madness? How on earth do we even begin to understand it?
Life in America will go on, but it will cost us. We can either live as the Israelis do – never knowing when the next attack will come – or we can strike back. This strike would have to be totally unlike any military action the United States has ever undertaken. Neither choice is painless. Neither choice would be neat and clean.
There is one shining thread of hope left in the Pandora’s box of horror unleashed by the terrorists. Americans of all ranks of life and all races have come together in a way I’ve never seen before. This cooperation and united spirit is something the terrorists never could have dreamed of and something they can’t possibly understand. If we can hold on to it we will be a stronger nation. God Bless America.
Dedicated to the men, women, and children who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
(Kimberley Jane Wilson is a member of Project 21’s National Advisory Board and a conservative writer living in Virginia. She can be reached at [email protected].)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.