Postscript: Five years later

Postscript: Five years later

Hard to believe it’s been five years since the tragedy of Sept. 11, ‘001. The tragedy was also a miracle, as the casualty count was far lower than initial expectations. The World Trade Center employed 50,000 people; fewer than 3,000 died. However, each life is precious to those who care — the husband or wife, children, relatives, friends, and significant others. Money has been paid. But, that is not enough for many.

‘6 Jewish Standard SEPTEMBER 15, ‘006

We must also not forget the rescuers, a significant number of whom are now suffering from respiratory disease.

When I look at tall buildings, I see planes hitting their pinnacles. At first this was disconcerting; now I accept it. I also see the jumpers, one in particular; head-first in a sitting position. I also see people falling from the north side and west side of the South Tower, one after another. I hear the gasps of those standing next to me. I see the first fire truck to arrive on West Street. Heroes. I also see the towers collapse. I have a very good visual memory. In this instance, that is not an advantage. Television is not required.

The F-16s are circling Manhattan on this beautiful, clear day, five years later. There was absolute silence on the streets after the disaster struck. No panic. Just silence. No one talking. I still remember seeing the United plane hitting the South Tower. I also remember not hearing the sound of impact. It’s amazing how the mind works.

For the first 18 months after the attack, I bought just about every book and pictorial representation about Sept. 11. I remember seeing the aerial photographs highlighting the fog of death, dismay, and recovery. I was in it. But my clothes stayed clean. I just don’t understand.

A friend’s son worked as an emergency medical technician. He quit two weeks after disaster struck. It was too late. Saving lives was no longer possible.

God bless Rudy Guliani for keeping New York City alive. Not many could do what he did.

The world is a different place. Osama bin Laden still lives. The Taliban have been defeated. Chaos has replaced Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The U.S. casualty count in Iraq is approaching that of the World Trade Center for a people who hate us irrespective of our contribution. Initially I was a supporter of the war, and now I am a detractor. Iraq is imploding as the North Tower did five years ago. Iraq is an artificial creation of the British and French who created countries from Shi’ite, Sunni, and Kurd tribal areas.

Iran is going nuclear. Oil revenues continue to pour in. Bombs in Spain and Britain. Killings in Holland and Denmark. Riots in France. All in the name of Allah! No more sanctity of innocent life. It’s a war of civilizations between a minority of Muslim fanatics and the Western world. And the United Nations continues to fiddle. Complacency eventually kills.

I have attended each of the memorials held at Ground Zero until this year. Time heals. I tended to stand on the periphery, listening to each name of the dead. Despite the fact that I recognized the names of only a few, the reading became very personal. And cathartic.

I am a changed person. I will never forget. I have also never been prouder to be an American.

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