|Letters to the Editor|
Sept. 11 memories
This month marks the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Boeing employees were invited to share their recollections of that day
and especially their thoughts on heroes, healing and looking forward.
A representative selection of responses appears below.
Christopher Matthews, Everett, Wash.
As I drove to work on Sept. 11, I wondered if any of my coworkers would remember that it was my birthday. As the morning progressed before that tragic moment, I had an unusual feeling that it wasn't going to be a good birthday for some reason, but I just brushed it off.
Then it happened. A coworker listening to the radio said that an airplane hit the World Trade Center, and from that point on, I was glued to the television set the entire day watching history unravel. That day, I lost 343 fellow firefighter brothers whom I never met, but I know that they did their best to help their fellow man during a tragic event. We'll never forget their bravery.
Brent Joray, Wichita, Kan.
Can we find a way to peacefully coexist in this world without resorting to any form of violence? Do we need someone like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to walk all over the continents to make the whole world civil?
Yinglin Jiang, Philadelphia
Two things in my life have changed forever.
Aircraft always captured my attention before, but now I watch them until I am sure they are on a normal flight path.
And when the clock radio clicks on, I am always relieved to hear music a confirmation that normal broadcasting is in effect and the world is OK for the moment.
Ken Weber, Everett, Wash.
New York, Washington and Pennsylvania may be miles away from me, but it felt as though those planes crashed right next door and the individuals killed were my relatives. Initially I felt as though the comfort and security that I once felt living in America was gone. But as an American, I will not give the individuals who perpetrated this act the satisfaction of taking this comfort and security away from me.
Victor M. Perez, Tulsa, Okla.
The terrorist attacks should be a reminder to us all of what the word "hero" really means. A hero is not a sports star, an actor or someone we look up to. A hero is someone who selflessly risks his own safety for the benefit of others. A hero is a figure admired for his courage, strength and daring. A hero is a policeman, firefighter or Good Samaritan willing to give of himself for others. Please remember this and teach it to your children when you hear sports announcers or the media referring to the "heroic" efforts of athletes or trauma survivors.
Cherie Tindall, Everett, Wash.
It seems to me that the first anniversary celebrations will be nothing more than a contest to see who can be the most outrageous and extravagant. It was a shock, it was horrific, and I know the victims' families grieve, as do all families of crime victims. But it's time to move on, not to rehash and get worked up over the past.
Alan MacArthur, Seattle
We as a nation need to not only look forward but look outward much more than we have in the past. Many Americans don't have a good understanding of other cultures and haven't been paying attention to what was going on in the world, as if it didn't affect them. Perhaps we know better now, but our understanding of how others view us dawns slowly. What we do overseas and how we do it affects others' impressions of us. Given the media exposure to events worldwide, we are not just U.S. citizens, but world citizens. Let us all seek to achieve a greater understanding of our world and how events elsewhere affect us.
Laurie Wiggins, McLean, Va.
Living many miles away from your country and your home never felt so awful until Sept. 11. Helplessness was my first reaction. Some solace and comfort came after visiting the local American embassy, where a memorial in flowers and shrines grew to cover the sidewalk. Seeing the faces of many misplaced Americans and Europeans standing in silence, with some sobbing, brought a strange comfort that is difficult to explain. Never before have I felt this sense of unity not only with other expatriate Americans but also with people from many nations.
Michael Petrichko, Copenhagen, Denmark
It is events like Sept. 11 that highlight the dangers of racism, bigotry and hatred. It is very important that everyone stop thinking of different cultures as being right or wrong; they are simply different from one's own. Once this transition is made within one's self, people can enjoy the differences of all the people of this world and not fear what they do not understand. Sept. 11 was a terrible price to pay to demonstrate the evil that exists when one culture has complete intolerance for another.
Len Howard, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Sept. 11 was a reminder that we are vulnerable and that our freedom is precious. We are so fortunate to live the way we do; people in other countries face Sept. 11 every day. We are in our own little world here, safe and secure. I was in shock for weeks, distraught over the events of Sept. 11. I was glued to my TV set night after night, hoping and praying that they would find survivors. When reality set in and there weren't going to be any survivors, I came to the realization that we are the survivors and we have to pick ourselves up and move on. Learn something from this tragedy: stop and notice the little things, and count our blessings.
Diana Schnaitman, Frederickson, Wash.
The morning of Sept. 11, I was nervously preparing for a Boeing job interview in Mesa, Ariz. My daughter Hollyn, on leave from her ship CG73 Port Royal, was waiting for me in California. She called crying, telling me to watch the news. I sat stunned as I watched the towers fall. I knew what this meant for her. She had been ordered to immediately report to ship in Pearl Harbor. We were stuck where we were. When I finally returned, I had to say goodbye to my child. She was my personal hero before that Tuesday in September, but now she was my proudest accomplishment. The world had changed. This young Petty Officer would go to the Gulf, and I would go to Arizona.
Jenny Celli, Mesa, Ariz.
My wife and I were in Mexico on Sept. 11. There was a single TV in the bar on the beach, and we watched the events with other couples and families from all over the world. Over the next two or three days, we learned a lot about how people of other nationalities view the United States and our place in the world. As the world's only superpower, we have a great responsibility to lead this world, and others expect us to handle that responsibility with maturity and compassion. I pray that we can.
Bill Lloyd, Huntsville, Ala.
Sept. 11 was an absolute tragedy for the entire world. Too many Americans take what we have for granted. We have freedom of expression, religion, travel and much more. What is important? God, family and country. Buildings can be replaced, but families cannot. Treat people with respect, dignity and kindness. Don't forget your roots and where you came from. The world was created for all of us, not just a select few.
John L. Brant Jr., San Antonio, Texas
I was on military leave at Scott Air Force Base with the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Illinois Air National Guard, in the Maintenance Operation Control Center. We watched in horror as the towers fell. The unit immediately started generating KC-135 tanker aircraft [missions]. People volunteered to do whatever it took to be ready for whatever the government called us to do. Aircraft were quickly generated to refuel fighters over our cities. Guardsmen were calling in from their civilian jobs volunteering to come in. The response was overwhelming. I am very proud to be a part of this unit and its dedicated members supporting Noble Eagle with their pride and dedication.
(Editor's note: Operation Noble Eagle encompasses Department of Defense operations supporting homeland defense and civil support in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon.)
Curtis Frost, St. Louis
Sept. 11 demonstrates the tragedy that can happen when religion goes haywire and is used to breed hatred and opposition. A true religion fosters love of mankind, regardless of country, religious beliefs, race or other uniqueness. I urge everyone to seek that which is true.
Les K. Huge, St. Louis
Editor's note: Employees having continuing distress over events related to Sept. 11 can find helpful phone numbers and articles at this Employee Assistance Program site on the Boeing intranet: http://shea.ca.boeing.com/companymedical/CoEAP/call.html
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