For the most part so many of our days are unremarkable. They start, they end; they're not special. They leave no enduring memories, no lasting impressions that we carry on with us. They have very little impact in the course of our lives. The days all blend together and sometimes it's hard to separate them. We can't distinguish one from another. Much like a gentle stream running down a mountain side, or the high wheat plains in a mid-western state, nothing out of the ordinary; nothing exceptional ever happens there. Any Tuesday morning is not much different than the day before it, or any day that lies ahead.
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, in New York City, and around the country, the day started the identical way as Monday, September 10th. At about the same time people were awoken by the sound of an alarm clock, maybe the sun slipping through the small breaks in the blinds, perhaps a nudge by a loved one or a slobbering kiss from a hungry dog.
These hard working men and women went through the same habits they've been doing for years. A monotonous routine; showering, make-up, shaving, breakfast, making sure the children were ready for school, then a morning cup of coffee. They checked the news for the day's weather, and then they selected an appropriate outfit. Just like clockwork these people walked out of their homes, or apartments, setting out on a commute to their offices or places of business. They saw the same faces; exchanging smiles the identical way each and every weekday. On this particular Tuesday the sun was out, the skies a vibrantly colored blue — a magnificent day. The summer was approaching a transformation. It was about to give way to the fall, a rite of passage. The leaves would soon change color; from green to bright red, orange and yellow. It was the kind of morning that people are tempted to call in sick to work so they can enjoy a gorgeous day knowing winter is not that far away.
A routine start to the day
From the time everyone awoke, until 8:46 a.m., this day was routine. Yet in just forty seconds all that was expected, all that was rational, all that was well within reason, came to a sudden and terrifying end.
At 8:46:05, some men and women sat at their desks; answering phone calls, reading e-mails, shuffling through a stack of papers while they were high above the streets of Manhattan in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Some people gathered together with a cup of coffee in their hands talking about the previous night's football game. The Denver Broncos had defeated the home town New York Giants, 31-20. Perhaps they were wondering if the New York Yankees would be able to win their fourth straight World Series. Some other workers, who may have been running late, or a little early, watched as the glowing buttons on the elevator quickly counted off the floor numbers, 94, 95, 96, 97, and 98.
The clock showed 8:46:30. These people, of all nationalities and religious beliefs, were trying to survive; to pay off mortgages. They were saving for their children's education, their own upcoming marriage, maybe the marriage of a son or daughter, some may be awaiting their first child's birth; perhaps a grandson or granddaughter was about to be brought into the world. These men and women carefully saved for their retirements, while counting down the days until all their dreams would become a reality. Even though none of them knew much of fame, or endless recognition, these devoted people are heroes.
Everything Changes at 8:46:40 A.M.
It was 8:46:34 when American Airlines flight 11 banked to the left; hurtling nearer to its target. At 8:46:40 it was swallowed up into a bright burst of orange flames; black smoke. The aircraft disintegrated into One World Trade Center, from the 94th floor up to the 98th. Thick black clouds of smoke and scorching flames quickly ejected from the building. The world had suddenly and violently been shaken to its core.
Light travels faster than sound so it is my hope that the innocent hard working people on the 94th thru 98th floors, those above and those below, the frightened passengers of American Airlines flight 11, just saw a bright light, a welcoming and a comforting light. I pray their souls left their bodies freely. I pray they felt no pain.
As for the hijackers it is my wish, I speak for no one but myself, that their last moments were filled with an overwhelming, incomprehensible amount of fear, terrifying anxiety, and devastating regret. I know that the paradise they were promised, by spineless and hateful old men, whose minds and ideologies are frozen in century old beliefs does not exist.
Seventeen minutes after the first attack, United Airlines flight 175, traveling at a speed of 580 miles per hour, crashed into the South Tower. We all remember what happened over the next few hours. Chaos, fear and shock hit the streets of Manhattan. More heroes died. Police, known in New York as The Finest, and firemen, The Bravest, were doing the jobs that they were trained to do. The firemen went towards the smoke and fire; straight forward into the danger. They climbed more than sixty, seventy floors, while wearing heavy gear. They did their best to save people; to reassure those who were walking down the stairs that everything would be okay; that they would be alright. They knew the risk they were taking and yet they never stopped and turned around. Up and up they went, higher and higher. Each step upward took them closer to the peril, the uncertainty, and the anguished cries for help. Bravest is a perfect description for these dedicated men and women.
The chaos and panic eventually spread to Washington D.C. and then a place very few had ever heard of before, Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The fear also spread throughout the world. Men and women in eastern countries who harbor terrorists began to fear for their own lives knowing full well of the massive force and power that is the United States Military.
In the end the two World Trade Tower buildings that had stood watch over Manhattan, on the southern tip of the island, for twenty eight years were gone. These two buildings took years of careful planning; they were painstakingly designed. They took years of hard, meticulous work to build; incredible ingenuity, man power, and yet at a speed of 124 miles per hour it took only 12 seconds for these two immense towers to fall to the ground. Tower Two, the South Tower, was the first to fall.
American Airlines flight 11 took to the skies with 76 passengers, 11 crew members, and five hijackers. United Airlines flight 175 had 51 passengers, 9 crew members and five hijackers on board. American flight 77 carried 53 passengers, 6 crew members, five hijackers. United flight 93 flew with 33 passengers, 7 crew members, and four hijackers.
343 Firemen lost their lives, as did 23 Police officers and 37 Port Authority Police officers. In World Trade Tower number one, 1,402 people lost their lives. Tower Two claimed 614 lives. The average age of the greater number of souls who passed on is 35-39 years old; men and women in the prime of their lives; ready to live life to the fullest. Among the civilian deaths in New York, 2,752 victims came from over 70 countries throughout the world.
These facts may seem cold; maybe even callous. After all how can we take the horrifying events of September 11th and simply put them into numbers? Then again maybe it's the best way to remember the day; to never, ever, forget it. We need to make each generation aware of this tragic time in American history.
Most of us did not know anyone who died that day. We never saw their faces, never looked into their eyes, we never spoke to them. We did not experience the pain, the shock, which the victims' families had to deal with; their profound sense of loss, the anger, the rage they have to control, to live with each and every day. Yet if we remember how many lives were lost, and add in how many relatives, close friends each innocent victim had, and then maybe we can better understand, thereby never forget them.
10 Years Have Passed...
Have we learned anything?
In a few months ten years will have passed from a day which is beyond all logical and rational thinking. I feel the best way for all of us to remember is by not doing something. We should not give into the insensitive demands of building a Mosque in Manhattan.
I spent the first 37 years of my life living in Queens, New York. The Manhattan skyline was visible from the kitchen windows of my two story house. I checked the colored lights that the Empire State Building lit each night. As a teenager I watched as the World Trade Towers were being built, the way they grew taller each day. As a resident of Florida I'm a little out of touch about what goes on in New York; yet I've heard and read about this Mosque, or pardon me, an Islamic Cultural Center. I've followed it closely.
Do you know there is no such thing as Islamic culture? Islam is a religion. President Obama, a man whose first Presidential task was a worldwide apology tour for America's 'misguided' way of life, doesn't understand. Mr. Obama may have given the order to end the life of Osama bin Laden and save his presidency and yet he appears all too often to be embarrassed, hesitant, to call himself a true American.
NYC's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a man of self entitlement who has long ago lost touch with the people of New York City, doesn't get it. Well let me word it another way. These men are much smarter than I am, so they understand the volatile nature of what blessing a project like this would bring about. They know yet they just don't seem to care or want to listen to the wishes of New Yorkers and Americans throughout this nation. They think they're right. These men think they know more than all of us. They want the world to believe they're compassionate; yet they show only weakness. They hide behind the right of free religion; yet in the end they're cowards. The right of free religion is one thing, but common sense and loyalty towards those who died on that dreadful day, the family and friends the innocent victims left behind, and the voice of a nation's people is another.
In reality this Mosque or Islamic Cultural Center is neither. Mosques are one story buildings, this one is not; it's thirteen stories tall. All Muslim buildings, like a husseinyiahs, or a zawiyyah, follow very firm building codes. It isn't important what those buildings are; what is important is how and why they are built.
According to Islamic history this thirteen story building, in the heart of downtown Manhattan, would be what is referred to in the Islamic world as a 'Rabat.' It was at the time of the prophet Muhammad when the first rabat came into existence. The Prophet forced his will on Arabia with 'Ghazvas,' also known as razzias. Razzias is where the English word for raid comes from. The word Ghazvas also has an interesting use. Radical Islamists use the term Ghazvas to describe the attacks of 9/11. The terrorists who carried out the attacks are known to Muslims as ghazis, or shahids. Translation: Martyrs.
The raids were meant to strike fear into the hearts and minds of those people who did not share the beliefs of the Prophet. The raiders violently compelled these unfortunate souls into believing that their very own society was destined to fail. This eventually led to men and women being forced to submit to Islamic rule, the Islamic way of life.
After each raid was victorious the Prophet ordered the construction of a rabat. It was carefully planned that these structures would be built at the center of the territory that had been conquered, like Ground Zero!
To put this into the simplest of terms, radical Islamists believe the United States is 'The Evil Empire,' the cause of all that is wrong in the world. They despise our way of life, our free will, the way we encourage women to become a vital part of our society.
If we allow this building to come alive in the heart of Manhattan, and near the 9/11 attacks, it would bring great joy and pleasure to Islamic countries throughout the world. It would represent a monumental symbol of victory. This would be an immeasurable offense, an insult of the most repulsive kind to all those brave, innocent, men and women who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The building would increase the number of supporters taking on the cause of destroying the United States from within. Freedom of religion is one thing, insanity another. Common sense must prevail! It's time for all of us to take a stand. If we continue down the road we're on the very compassion we've shown for centuries, a compassion that has made us a great nation, will, in the end, destroy us. We just can't say 'yes' to everyone; not in these unstable and volatile times. The madness has to stop sometime, somewhere, and New York City should be that place.
All American politicians, who represent each and every one of us, need to know that there can never be an understanding, a co-existence, and a dialogue, with an ideology that despises all Democratic nations. During World War II Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of England, spoke about this when referring to Nazi Germany.
We cannot bargain or negotiate with countries who encourage homicide bombers, and whose very own leaders are responsible for threatening, abusing, torturing, and killing women.
By not allowing this Rabat to be built we would honor those lives lost on 9/11. We would stand up to a force that they were unable to on 9/11. It would show the world that all Americans remember them; that we all care; we have not, and never will forget. It would demonstrate we are watching out for them each and every day. By not allowing this structure to come alive we can honor those heroes, can pass the memories of how they lived; how they died, for centuries to come. It very easily could have been anyone of us on those planes or in those buildings on that fateful day of September 11, 2001. It could have been you; it could have been me.
'There but for the grace of God go I.'