Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Day to Remember

Nancy Tengler

A Day to Remember

Like every American I remember exactly what I was doing when the second plane hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I was on the treadmill in my bedroom a little before 6 a.m., watching the stock market open, the futures soaring until a report that a plane had flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 (EST). At that point there was only conjecture; a stray commuter plane the most popular theory. Live shots of the gaping hole and the billows of smoke but still no answers. At 6:03 (PST) I watched live as the second plane plowed into the South Tower.

Two months (to the day) earlier I had taken my daughter to eat at the Windows on the World Restaurant atop the North Tower. I remembered how the view from the 106th/107th floor restaurant made my knees weak. How I stood ten to twelve feet back from the windows, too unsteady on my feet before the magnificence of the height to allow myself any closer. I remembered the giddy dizziness I felt. The tingle.

This day there was no tingle. Just horror. As the situation grew more desperate inside the North Tower and the flames presumably became unbearable, I watched in eerie silence as bodies dropped before my eyes. A single person clinging to the side of the building at least eighty stories up before the cameras turned to the chaos below. A dark cloud passed over my heart and didn't budge for years. It wasn't long before the falling body pictures were swept off the air, replaced with photos of the victims on the ground--those who had made it out on foot, the fallen who were carried out by hero after hero.

And, perhaps, because I couldn't do anything valuable or because I worked with many on Wall Street, some now victims; maybe because I had spent the prior Thursday in the Deutsche Bank building across the street from the South Tower, I feel the need to keep the memory of that day alive. So, from time to time I pull out a Life coffee table book I purchased entitled, One Nation, America Remembers September 11, 2001 and gape at a two-page, full color photo of the North Tower just before collapse, a spread eagle body frozen mid-plummet, a lone individual clinging 80, maybe 90 stories high to the outside of the building, pressed between the steel spines that would soon melt and collapse from the excruciating heat. And the cloud returns and I weep.

I wish we as a nation would unite in our resolve to keep the victim's families before us each and every day. Consider their future's in the shadow of the horror of their loss and redouble our commitment to ensure their spouse or parent or son or daughter did not die in vain. I wish too we would be faithful to the precious lives of all the young men and women who joined our military shortly after the terrorist attacks to serve and protect the country they love.

They deserve our prayers, our support and our respect. They certainly don't deserve to be gunned down by a militant Islamic Major who hated the country he served and the military he served it in. I will not proclaim the politically correct platitudes our leaders offer for the Fort Hood terrorist attack. I am sickened by General Casey's comment: "Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse." If I wasn't a lady...

We know a great deal about the intentions of the shooter in the aftermath. We know next to nothing about the victims and their families. And that is, quite simply, wrong.

So while our leaders fall over themselves to explain away Major Hasan's jihad at Fort Hood. And the media does back-bends to consider the post-traumatic stress he suffered as a state-side psychiatrist who had never seen active duty. I choose instead to ask you to join me in saluting the brave men and women who serve at Fort Hood and throughout our military and to pray for their safety at home and on the battlefield.

God bless our America.

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