Terrorism sends shock waves across the world

Nathan Hall

Our parents know where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated. Our grandparents remember what they were doing when Pearl Harbor was bombed. And now we will always remember where we were when we heard about the most devastating and murderous attack on U.S. soil.

A coordinated attack of unprecedented evil was inflicted upon the United States. Four planes were hijacked, two piloted into the World Trade Center towers in New York City and one into the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C. The fourth crashed in Pennsylvania.

I woke up Tuesday morning at about 8:45 a.m., planning to watch NBC’s Today show as I ate my breakfast. Instead, I was captivated by the media coverage for an entire day – and undoubtedly weeks to come.

I watched as a second passenger airliner hit the World Trade Center. I was listening when an MSNBC reporter said there was an explosion at the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C. The report of another downed plane outside Pittsburgh. The towers collapsing. And so on.

Whomever these terrorists are, they accomplished what they intended. They shut down the world in one foul swoop. I spent most of the day in a shocked and scared state. I have friends that live in New York City. I have close relatives that live in Washington, D.C. and work for the government. And all day, I heard stories from them about what they had experienced.

My uncle is a lawyer for Congress. When an explosion occurred and fire started on the Washington Mall, the Capitol building was evacuated. For several hours, he couldn’t get in touch with my aunt or his children to let them know he was fine. My aunt works in the CNN building which was put on lock down. No one could go in or out. When they both finally got home, they had to find a way to get their daughter home after her high school had been closed.

Their daughter was in French class when the Pentagon was hit. Her teacher gasped and told everyone to look out the windows, where smoke billowed not far away. My aunt and uncle also have two sons at college, one who is studying in London this fall. It took them until that evening to get through and let their son know they were okay.

Another friend drives into Washington, D.C. several mornings per week for business. He was near the Pentagon when the plane hit it – he had to run from his car because car windows were exploding as far as two blocks away.

I got early word from a good friend in New York City that he wasn’t hurt. His employer had sent everyone home once the explosions started, and he was out of the Wall Street area before the World Trade Center collapsed. My boss’ brother works near the World Trade Center. He left his office after the second plane hit the tower and watched both towers crumble as he walked home. I haven’t yet heard about the status of a friend’s boyfriend who works at the United Nations.

The husband of a woman my mom works with was in New York City this week working on a project. He called to tell her he was fine, but his partner on the project came home to find a massive number of neighborhood kids in his home with his wife. They had all been let home early from school, but their parents work in the World Trade Center and they had nowhere to go.

We all know someone who has been directly affected by this attack or who has a loved one that was involved. With so many casualties and such monumental effects, it is impossible not to.

In situations like these, we have to follow in the footsteps of our predecessors and band together as a nation. I have not been happy with everything this country or its leaders have done, but an attack of this kind cannot go unanswered.

My heart goes out to those at the University and beyond who have been personally affected by this tragedy. Your pain is felt by the entire nation.

Forever we will remember this date: Sept. 11, 2001. What started out as a normal day has become yet another American date that will live in infamy. We will each recall where we were, what we were doing and we will never forget.

 

Erin Ghere’s column appears alternate weeks. She
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