Saturday, September 11, 2004

9/11 Remembered

Rod Dreher reprints an e-mail he sent to friends that morning:

Subject: Unbelievable
Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 10:09 AM

I'm not going to tie up the phone lines long, but I wanted to tell you that we're okay. My dad phoned this morning to say, "The World Trade Center is on fire. Go look out your front door." You can see them clearly across the harbor from our front door.

"Oh my God! Julie come see!" I said.

I ran down to grab my reporter's bag, knowing I'd have to go over to the fire. At that point, we didn't know what caused the fire. Then, while downstairs, I heard a tremendous explosion and screams.

I ran out to the street. "A plane just hit the second tower!" a man screamed.

I knew the subways would be out, so I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to get to the scene. There was a steady stream of people sobbing, coming out of downtown over the bridge boardwalk. I interviewed several of them. They told absolutely horrifying stories of seeing people jump out of windows from high floors, their ties and coats flailing as they plunged to their deaths. One woman's knees were bleeding from having been pushed down by the terrified crowd.

"The Pentagon has been bombed!" a man screamed.

I made it to the last pillar of the Brooklyn Bridge before going into downtown. I ran into a colleague of mine. She said, "We better not go over there. Those towers are going to blow up."

One minute later, the south tower fell in on itself. I nearly fainted. It ... well, I can't describe it now. I'm too shaken. Everybody on the bridge screamed. Some collapsed in tears. A woman started to vomit. My knees went weak, and a huge plume of soot and smoke barrelled toward us. I decided to turn around and go home.

A stout black woman, covered with sweat, screamed to no one in particular, "Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess! It ain't over people!"

An F-16 fighter flew overhead. The cloud of soot reached us, and it was like being in a volcanic eruption. Everybody had to breathe through their shirts. Cell phones didn't work. I rushed home to see Julie. When I opened the door, she was sobbing and shaking.

Now I'm learning that the second tower has collapsed, and the Pentagon has been bombed. The sky outside is black with soot and smoke.

There is no World Trade Center anymore. I can't believe we're seeing this.

It's war, you know.
It captures a lot of the confusion and grief of that morning. I was walking North after escaping from the PATH station underneath the WTC that morning. I saw the fighter planes overhead as I neared the Brooklyn Bridge and thanked God that they were there. I heard about the plane hitting the Pentagon on a car radio outside a Jewish funeral home on the Lower East Side. I saw both Towers collapse, first the South from St. James Place and then the North from Houston Street as I cut towards the Hudson.

We must never forget and we must never forgive. The images from that day are hard to watch, but we must. We can't forget what happened to us that crisp Fall morning in 2001 and we must never forget who did that to us. Not just the 19 hijackers on the planes, or their controllers at Al Qaeda, but the whole sick culture that created them in the first place. The sickness that continues to rule Iran, that seeks to rule in Gaza and the West Bank, that thrives in the shadows in Sausdi Arabia. The sickness that used to hold sway in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Some on the Left say that the attacks of three years ago are a criminal matter, to be dealt with by warrants and arrests. They're wrong. It's a war.