...I was in an office five blocks from the Capitol on 9/11, and after watching the second plane hit the Trade Center live on television, and seeing the smoke rising on the horizon in the direction of the Pentagon from our windows (right after a colleague called in to say she had seen a plane crash into the Pentagon from her car on I-95), several of us, without words, left our office and walked out onto Pennsylvania Avenue and stood on the sidewalk staring at the Capitol, from which pedestrians were streaming. The dome looked so incredibly frail, like an eggshell.I also have vivid memories of 9/11. Like the author, I was watching live reporting when the second plane smashed into one of the World Trade Towers.
All that fall, I worried about additional attacks. And they happened--in the form of anthrax sent through the mail. I was on edge for months, turning on CNN immediately after coming home from work or errands.
Gradually, I got over this anxiety and obsessive vigilance. And even my anxiety was a luxury because the country didn't come close to collapsing. I wasn't worried about defending myself, my family, and any survival provisions we had. I watched as debris was cleared, people moved back into homes near the disaster site, the economy teetered but didn't nose-dive.
What I saw was the resilience of this country. But it wasn't a large attack. It's unclear what the Islamist planners of the attack thought would happen. Perhaps they thought it would provoke a major war between the West and the Islamic countries. If so, they partially got their wish.
However, neither side is even close to victory or defeat. There is still lots of fighting, but it's confined almost exclusively to Islamic countries, while the Western countries enjoy mostly peace and relative comfort. Perhaps that means the planners of the 9/11 attacks failed, but they play the long game--hoping for success decades or centuries from now. I don't think they will win, but the hope clearly keeps them going.
I'm so happy for my resilience (which didn't face much of a test), and for the resilience of the US. Unfortunately, the people who hate us are also resilient. But perhaps that's an attribute of humanity, so I can't be too upset about it. Better that we're all resilient than none of us.
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