We Will Never Forget!
It All Comes Home
... our thoughts
Photos courtesy of AP, Time-Warner, and other
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WTC EYEWITNESS GALLERY
|Waking up to a beautifully clear morning, who
would have thought? It was simply a new day. An unknown identity arrives
at work somewhere up around the 93rd floor of Tower One, World Trade
Center. Settling in at his/her desk, perhaps pouring a cup of coffee,
he/she gazes out the window and marvels at the splendor of it all. From
near the top of the tallest building, in the largest city, in the
greatest Nation, he/she is practically on top of the World. But, it
probably isn't even thought of. It's a day much like any other.
Suddenly, between sips of coffee, an object is seen bearing down on the
building. As it rapidly approaches, it quickly becomes identifiable as a
large jet. The roar becomes deafening. Glass shatters. Steel bends.
Flame bursts out everywhere. Flesh is ripped apart & shredded. It
all happens in a fleeting moment. How much of that was actually absorbed
by the human mind, no one will ever know.
It was September, 11. 9-11. Should we have been surprised?
Similarly, my day began in much the same way. It was an absolutely
gorgeous Tuesday morning here in western North Carolina ... clear, blue
skies, low humidity ... Little did I know what lay ahead this day.
Arriving at the Post Office for work at 8AM, one of the Rural Carriers
walked by me and said, "Happy 911 Day!" "Huh?" I
wasn't even thinking of that, but after he made me aware, I chuckled.
It was 9:15AM and I was working the window, as I normally am at that
hour. A customer came in to mail a couple of packages. "Did you
hear what happened in NYC?" she asked. I shook my head. "They
think a missile hit the World Trade Center!" she exclaimed.
"What?!?" Another customer came in during this exchange.
"No," he said. "It was a plane."
I rationalized. Having lived in that area for nearly 40 years, I knew
small planes & helicopters flew around there all the time.
Obviously, one ventured too close & clipped a wing. A tragedy, but
no big deal ... in light of the truth to come.
A few minutes later, another customer came in. "Two jets crashed
into the World Trade Center!!!!" "My, how stories grow!"
But, he was serious. He told me the story. I went in the back, and as
carriers were calmly casing their mail, I informed everyone of what I
had heard. I don't think anyone took it all that seriously. Either did
I, for that matter. This just couldn't be.
Shortly later, I was called to the phone. It was Elaine. "Do you
know what's happening?" she asked. "Yeah, a plane or something
hit the World Trade Center." "Two jets ... now they've hit the
Pentagon." "Ok, I gotta go." I had to get back to the
customers. Suddenly, it hit me. A chill ran through my body like no
other I've ever experienced as the realization that America was being
attacked ran through me. Excusing myself from a customer, I went in the
back again, and announced what I knew. This time, a grim hush spread
through the building. Everyone stopped what they were doing ...
I tried to return to work, but the chill wouldn't go away. Then, the
realization that SOMEONE I knew worked in the WTC struck me. I couldn't
think of who ... I called Elaine back ... "Yes, my brother, Dominick.
He called to say he was ok but then the phone went dead." I could
hear the restrained fear in her voice. "Oh my God!" Then, in
the background, I could hear my son screaming, "Come look at this!
It's coming down!" I closed out my cash drawer and went home to be
|I walked in the house in time to see the
second tower crumble to the ground.
I sat there in stunned silence and tried to take it all in. That was
the city I was born in ... my hometown. I had been in those buildings,
walked below them in their great shadow. How many people must've been
Reports of a 4th plane were heard. Then, a crash. My first reaction
was that our jet fighters had shot it down, but as time passed, there
was no report of this. I thought of how it could've come down.
Obviously, a field in rural Pennsylvania couldn't have been its intended
target. I thought of a passenger uprising. It must be. The people on
that flight will go down as heroes, and they will deserve every accolade
that comes their way. For unless the "black" boxes indicate
some coincidental malfunction, surely that is what happened.
My life will never be the same. I will never see things in quite the
same way ... ever.
For the first time in my life, I can feel good about my Country's
military actions ... whatever they may be down the road. I remember,
back in the Vietnam days, thinking, even as I protested against it, that
I surely would feel differently if we were under attack. And that is
what has happened. America, my home, was attacked. My fellow citizens,
were killed, on our own soil.
It still hasn't completely sunk in, but I know this ... if we could
go through the measures we have over the years - during my lifetime -to
defend OTHER countries' borders & freedoms, than we can do no less
for ourselves ... and hopefully, a lot more. Restraint & warnings
have obviously done no good. It is time to act with a strong &
unrelenting hand. To do less would allow the thousands who have perished
to have died in vain. We must make their deaths worthwhile, even as we
prevent more innocents from perishing. This is a "Remember Goliad!
Remember the Alamo!" situation. It will not end by turning the
other cheek. History shows us ... the Middle East is THE hot bed of
unrest in the World - through all of recorded history. Terrorism,
against the U.S., has escalated in severity through the past decades.
What is next? I don't want to find out!
Some of you may remember me saying on this very Board that I wasn't
voting in the past Presidential election. I thought then that both
candidates were "morons." I no longer feel that way. President
Bush, I believe, may be just the right man for this time. He is
surrounded by competent veterans of the Gulf War. He showed me something
that no other President has ever showed me - in my lifetime - genuine
emotion and depth of feeling. He has my support. I am prepared to make
whatever sacrifices the citizenry of this country are called upon to
make. I will do so gleefully, no matter what they are. This is a War for
To all of you ... As was the case here, these tragedies may directly
hit home. I still fear that SOMEONE I knew - someone I went to school
with; someone I worked with - will be among the dead when all the names
are eventually known. Stay strong. Keep praying. Stick together.
For me, I say again, I am forever changed. September 11, 2001 is a
date I will never forget. The images, the shock, the sorrow, the anger
... will never leave me. I don't want it to. I don't want to forget.
It WAS a new day! ~ Rich Federici, September 16,
We're waiting for the deep emotional satisfaction of the
first big hit, not the conclusion of deceptive posturing by the Taliban
or Afghani clerics. Their "decision" is not only recycled
window dressing rhetoric, served up for the "Muslim
Brotherhood" that seeks recruits for Al Qaeda & sympathy for
its illegitimate cause, it's irrelevant to what has & what will
happen. We already knew the outcome of Mullah Mohammed Omar's
"Grand Council" (the same as it's been previously), but we
wisely cut the Pakistani government a little slack. Talk about a rock
& a hard place ... the Pakistani leadership are now marked men.
We're waiting anxiously because our rage demands it, requires it. Our
collective rage is natural, necessary for our self-preservation, and,
when manifested, terrible. It can't be otherwise. Thousands of civilians
were murdered on our own soil in the most horrific manner - murdered
before our eyes. Bleeding, stunned, soot covered, charred, blown to
Speech For The Ages
Speaker, Mr. President Pro Tempore, members of Congress, and fellow
Americans, in the normal course of events, presidents come to this
chamber to report on the state of the union. Tonight, no such report is
needed; it has already been delivered by the American people.
We have seen it in the courage of passengers who rushed terrorists to
save others on the ground. Passengers like an exceptional man named Todd
Beamer. And would you please help me welcome his wife Lisa Beamer
We have seen the state of our union in the endurance of rescuers
working past exhaustion.
We've seen the unfurling of flags, the lighting of candles, the
giving of blood, the saying of prayers in English, Hebrew and Arabic.
We have seen the decency of a loving and giving people who have made
the grief of strangers their own.
My fellow citizens, for the last nine days, the entire world has seen
for itself the state of union, and it is strong.
Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend
freedom. Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether
we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice
will be done.
I thank the Congress for its leadership at such an important time.
All of America was touched on the evening of the tragedy to see
Republicans and Democrats joined together on the steps of this Capitol
singing "God Bless America."
And you did more than sing. You acted, by delivering $40 billion to
rebuild our communities and meet the needs of our military. Speaker
Hastert, Minority Leader Gephardt, Majority Leader Daschle and Senator
Lott, I thank you for your friendship, for your leadership and for your
service to our country.
And on behalf of the American people, I thank the world for its
outpouring of support.
America will never forget the sounds of our national anthem playing
at Buckingham Palace, on the streets of Paris and at Berlin's
We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside
our embassy in Seoul, or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in
We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in
Australia and Africa and
Nor will we forget the citizens of 80 other nations who died with our
own. Dozens of Pakistanis, more than 130 Israelis, more than 250
citizens of India, men and women from El Salvador, Iran, Mexico and
Japan, and hundreds of British citizens.
America has no truer friend than Great Britain. Once again, we are
joined together in a great cause.
I'm so honored the British prime minister has crossed an ocean to
show his unity with America.
Thank you for coming, friend.
On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war
against our country. Americans have known wars, but for the past 136
years they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in
1941. Americans have known the casualties of war, but not
at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning.
Americans have known surprise attacks, but never before on thousands
of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day, and night
fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.
Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking,
"Who attacked our country?"
The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely
affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are some of
the murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and
Kenya and responsible for bombing the USS Cole.
Al Qaeda is to terror what the Mafia is to crime. But its goal is not
making money, its goal is remaking the world and imposing its radical
beliefs on people everywhere.
The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has
been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim
clerics; a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of
The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews,
to kill all Americans and make no distinctions among military and
civilians, including women and children. This group and its leader, a
person named Osama bin Laden, are linked to many other organizations in
different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan.
There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries.
They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and
brought to camps in places like Afghanistan where they are trained in
the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide
in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction. The
leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports
the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan
we see al Qaeda's vision for the world. Afghanistan's people have been
brutalized, many are starving and many have fled.
Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning
a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A
man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough. The
United States respects the people of Afghanistan -- after all, we are
currently its largest source of humanitarian aid -- but we condemn the
It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people
everywhere by sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists.
By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing
murder. And tonight the United States of America makes the following
demands on the Taliban:
-- Deliver to United States authorities all of the leaders of Al
Qaeda who hide in your land.
-- Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens you
have unjustly imprisoned.
-- Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your
-- Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in
Afghanistan. And hand over every terrorist and every person and their
support structure to appropriate authorities.
-- Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so
we can make sure they are no longer operating.
These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion.
The Taliban must act and act immediately.
They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate.
I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world.
We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of
Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as
friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil
in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.
The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to
hijack Islam itself.
The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our
many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and
every government that supports them.
Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there.
It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been
found, stopped and defeated.
Americans are asking "Why do they hate us?"
They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically
elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our
freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to
vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries
such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of
the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast
regions of Asia and Africa.
These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end
a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows
fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand
against us because we stand in their way.
We're not deceived by their pretenses to piety.
We have seen their kind before. They're the heirs of all the
murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to
serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will
to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and
totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it
ends in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies. Americans are
asking, "How will we fight and win this war?"
We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of
diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law
enforcement, every financial influence, and every network.
Now, this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago,
with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will
not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground
troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated
strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign
unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes
visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success.
We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another,
drive them from place to place until there is no refuge or no rest.
And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to
terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make:
Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.
From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support
terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. Our
nation has been put on notice, we're not immune from attack. We will
take defensive measures against terrorism to protect Americans. Today,
dozens of federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local
governments, have responsibilities affecting homeland security.
These efforts must be coordinated at the highest level. So tonight, I
announce the creation of a Cabinet-level position reporting directly to
me, the Office of Homeland Security. And tonight, I also announce a
distinguished American to lead this effort, to strengthen American
security: a military veteran, an effective governor, a true patriot, a
trusted friend, Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge.
He will lead, oversee and coordinate a comprehensive national
strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism and respond to any
attacks that may come. These measures are essential. The only way to
defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate
it and destroy it where it grows.
Many will be involved in this effort, from FBI agents, to
intelligence operatives, to the reservists we have called to active
duty. All deserve our thanks, and all have our prayers. And tonight a
few miles from the damaged Pentagon, I have a message for our military:
Be ready. I have called the armed forces to alert, and there is a
The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud.
This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is
not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is
civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress
and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.
We ask every nation to join us.
We will ask and we will need the help of police forces, intelligence
service and banking systems around the world. The United States is
grateful that many nations and many international organizations have
already responded with sympathy and with support -- nations from Latin
America to Asia to Africa to Europe to the Islamic world.
Perhaps the NATO charter reflects best the attitude of the world: An
attack on one is an attack on all. The civilized world is rallying to
They understand that if this terror goes unpunished, their own
cities, their own citizens may be next. Terror unanswered can not only
bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate
And you know what? We're not going to allow it.
Americans are asking, "What is expected of us?"
I ask you to live your lives and hug your children. I know many
citizens have fears tonight, and I ask you to be calm and resolute, even
in the face of a continuing threat.
I ask you to uphold the values of America and remember why so many
have come here.
We're in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is
to live by them. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or
unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith.
I ask you to continue to support the victims of this tragedy with
your contributions. Those who want to give can go to a central source of
information, Libertyunites.org, to find the names of groups providing
direct help in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The thousands of FBI
agents who are now at work in this investigation may need your
cooperation, and I ask you to give it. I ask for your patience with the
delays and inconveniences that may accompany tighter security and for
your patience in what will be a long struggle.
I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American
economy. Terrorists attacked a symbol of American prosperity; they did
not touch its source.
America is successful because of the hard work and creativity and
enterprise of our people. These were the true strengths of our economy
before September 11, and they are our strengths today.
And finally, please continue praying for the victims of terror and
their families, for those in uniform and for our great country. Prayer
has comforted us in sorrow and will help strengthen us for the journey
ahead. Tonight I thank my fellow Americans for what you have already
done and for what you will do.
And ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, I thank you, their
representatives, for what you have already done and for what we will do
Tonight we face new and sudden national challenges. We will come
together to improve air safety, to dramatically expand the number of air
marshals on domestic flights and take new measures to prevent hijacking.
We will come together to promote stability and keep our airlines
flying with direct assistance during this emergency.
We will come together to give law enforcement the additional tools it
needs to track down terror here at home.
We will come together to strengthen our intelligence capabilities to
know the plans of terrorists before they act and to find them before
We will come together to take active steps that strengthen America's
economy and put our people back to work.
Tonight, we welcome two leaders who embody the extraordinary spirit
of all New Yorkers, Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
As a symbol of America's resolve, my administration will work with
Congress and these two leaders to show the world that we will rebuild
New York City.
After all that has just passed, all the lives taken and all the
possibilities and hopes that died with them, it is natural to wonder if
America's future is one of fear.
Some speak of an age of terror. I know there are struggles ahead and
dangers to face. But this country will define our times, not be defined
As long as the United States of America is determined and strong,
this will not be an age of terror. This will be an age of liberty here
and across the world.
Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in
our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment.
Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom, the great
achievement of our time and the great hope of every time, now depends on
Our nation, this generation, will lift the dark threat of violence
from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by
our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter and we
will not fail.
It is my hope that in the months and years ahead life will return
almost to normal. We'll go back to our lives and routines and that is
Even grief recedes with time and grace.
But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened
that day and to whom it happened. We will remember the moment the news
came, where we were and what we were doing.
Some will remember an image of a fire or story or rescue. Some will
carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.
And I will carry this. It is the police shield of a man named George
Howard who died at the World Trade Center trying to save others.
It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her
son. It is my reminder of lives that ended and a task that does not end.
I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted
it. I will not yield, I will not rest, I will not relent in waging this
struggle for freedom and security for the American people. The course of
this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and
fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God
is not neutral between them.
Fellow citizens, we'll meet violence with patient justice, assured of
the rightness of our cause and confident of the victories to come.
In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom and may he watch
over the United States of America. Thank you.
~ President George W. Bush, September 20, 2001 ~
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