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...Thine alabaster cities gleam Undimmed by human tears!

Attack On America Sept 11 2001

What Happened
The children had gone to bed. I had just finished watching "The West Wing", an American drama series which I think is about a year behind over here in Australia. The series is about life in the White House. Shaun and I turned our heads to listen to a late-breaking news bulletin. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, hitting one of the two towers. As the story evolved, a second plane hit the second tower. Then they reported that The Pentagon was also attacked. A plane had crashed into one side and it was on fire. They were not certain about this. But, it was at this point that I lost it, breaking down into knowing sobs. Clearly, the world would be at war from this point on.

Cameras trained in on the WTC. Live feeds to NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN began. As we listened to Peter Jennings, the camera was live on the WTC as it burned on the top of both towers. While he was talking, we watched in disbelief as the tower on the left crumbled unbelievably to the ground, quaking ontop of and crushing would-be rescuers.

Shaun and I stayed up until 2:45am, when it was clear that the coverage would not end, and there would be no immediate end to this tragedy. We needed rest. Have we really had rest since that moment? It has not been a good rest. When I awoke at 6 am, the devastation and global reaction was overwhelming. I was hoping that it was all a horrible nightmare. I tried to shake myself free of what I had seen on live tv and I just couldn't. The tears started once again and did not stop for days.

Almost immediately, stocks plummeted worldwide. Airline companies announced major layoffs. 20,000 people each company. United, AMerican and Boeing were hobbled by the disaster. Continental, which was already in trouble, announced it was near bankruptcy. Here, in AUstralia, Ansett Airlines was spun off of Air New Zealand and left for dead. The travel industry announced instantly that it would be hurt. Every aspect of every piece of our life was now impacted by the New War.

Twin Towers on fire
Pentagon on fire

Leslie Anne was devastated when I told her the news and she saw for herself that the attack was on every single television station here in Australia. I was crying and was probably not very supportive of her. We hugged and sobbed. When I told Ricky, he was defiantly positive that all would be ok. "We'll get them. They'll be sorry" was and is his mentality.

Over the next several days, poignant tributes to the USA and to those lives lost began popping up all over the world. I did not believe Cassie when she told me they had played the Star Spangled Banner at the changing of the guard. But...they most certainly had. I saw it on the news here as well. The world was united in their disgust and loathing for this act of aggression on innocent men and women. And the world was united in fear.

As days droned on, the day would begin by seeing the war progress on CNN and Australian TV. Waking each morning was particularly unpleasant. Not knowing what the news would bring was (is) unnerving.

Fortunately, the world seemed to be uniting with the United States. And bipartisanship in the US and in AUstralia both were at least for the moment blurred for the sake of Freedom and justice. Tony Blair, PM of England, was particularly at the forefront, leading Europe in a united front along side the United States, demanding an end to terrorism.

It turned out that our own Prime Minister, John Howard, was in Washington D.C. at the time of the attacks. He was clearly shaken by the events and within days the Australian Parliament signed a blank check to help support the American effort. It's unclear to me exactly how he got back to Australia. I *think* US Air Force personnel got him to Hawaii and Australian Air Force personnel took him back home from there. Former President, Bill Clinton, was oddly enough in AUstralia at the time of the attacks. He is enjoying $1,000,000 (AU) fees for his speeches. He was very much in the public eye during this time of fear and uncertainty.

Twin Towers on fire
people paying tribute

During the early days of the devastating New War, I was actually comforted to hear Bill Clinton. He was strong and provided the leadership that I needed at that time. He and Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings were my source of strength, sorrow and comfort. President George W. Bush was, at that time, no comfort. He was stumbling over his Good Ole Boy speech patterns and drawing up images of the old west "Dead or alive". Every time President Bush spoke, he would be more and more proficient in his ability to convey what the world needed to hear in a succinct and able manner.

At first, when the attacks occured, we had no one but President Bush addressing us from Washington. There was word that Vice President Cheney was at Camp David in the interest of National Security. I kept saying "Where the HELL is Colin Powell!?!" Then he started to appear, along with the Secretary of defense. I'd actually thought Colin Powell WAS the Secretary of Defense so I was surprised to learn otherwise. He is the Secretary of State.

paying respects in front of the US embassy in Berlin

First there was the gut-wrenching witness to the horror. Each day thereafter brought with it the numbing realization that we were being led like lemmings into a war we don't want. The nations united as one - either for the United States' vow to attack terrorism and countries supporting terrorists - or against the USA.

I felt the need to have our pictures taken, on September 17th, 2001, Australia's Day of Mourning for the attack. I wanted a record of this day, for our Grandchildren should there ever be any. We hung our US flag proudly on the porch and Leslie Anne decked out in her USA shirt and bandana. (USA flag clothing was ridiculously in fashion before the attacks.)

I was not surprised when the tide turned. Even before the first attack on Afghanistan on October 7th, 2001, anti-American sentiment was growing. Pakistan civilians were rioting in the streets. Citizens of Sydney, Australia were demonstrating with anti-viet nam 1970's rhetoric, marching down the street and in front of the US company NIKE retail store.

OCTOBER 7, 2001
The states were celebrating the long Columbus Day weekend. Mayor Guiliani of New York City was part of the patriotic parade trying to restore normalcy to the critically wounded city. This in spite of the fact that he had lost dozens of close personal friends in the attack on the world trade center. While the US tried to enjoy their long weekend, casting a weary eye on the sky, and staying closer to home, the United States launched their attack on Afghanistan. Many of us were saddened by this turn of events. This action assured we would be in a long war which, for the first time in my lifetime, meant that the war would be on our soil as well as throughout Asia and the Middle East.

People in the states are scared to do a lot they did before. That doesn't mean we aren't scared here as well. The fear is probably global. There are people in Afghanistan who were arrested for preaching Christianity. They could face execution. Now we have attacked the country that holds them captive. We hold our breath for their safety. I am fearful that ignorant children may say or do the wrong thing by way of our children. Already someone asked Leslie Anne, on the day of the attack on NYC, "are all your rellies dead?" Also, one of her teachers marked her lower than perhaps she should have been because her oral report given on the day of the attack was not as good as it could have been, had she not been so upset. However, a couple girls who were 3 days late with their reports were not marked down at all. One can't help but fear that LA was a victim both of ignorance, insensitivity and anti-American sentiment.

This war we have been dragged into has heightened intolerance world wide. David Letterman, who was clearly visably shaken by the attack on NYC (boy I wish I had that tape), said (paraphrasing cuz I can't find it on the web anymore), "This is supposed to be a *HOLY WAR*. A HOLY WAR*. As long as I live I will NEVER understand how you can have a holy war." Well, as long as I live, I will never forget how my life and the life of my children changed so horribly on September 11, 2001 and it may get worse before it gets better. Hopefully, we will have the presence of mind to feed and nourish the civilians of this war and give the Afghans back their country so all the refugees in Pakistan and even Australia can go home to their country.

I don't know why we were smiling.
I guess because we were
together and in the company of friends.
la flag