These are excerpts of emails and letters sent in about memories of Sept. 11, 2001.
September 11 affected my life immediately. I felt as through part of our nation had been crushed. I was in the Army at the time ... I knew that we were at war. But at war with who? Still to this day, I cannot fathom the amount of lives lost ... in each death, a family was torn, crushed, broken ... This is going to be a hard month for Americans and especially for New Yorkers ... I have an iconic image in my head when I hear the words “nine eleven.” The image is of two great towers, a symbol of greatness ... both have black smoke boiling out of them. God bless our America. Embrace the land you live in. I love our country.
Brian Cook, Oklahoma City
Those feelings lasted a few seconds when we realized ... the backlash that was to follow. Oklahoma was no stranger to terrorist attacks ... In April 1995 a Christian fundamentalist blew up the downtown federal building killing many innocent people ... Although initially everyone pointed fingers toward Muslims, the attack turned out to be homegrown ... During the days to come the life we were accustomed to slowly changed ... The local mosque for the first time requested a police escort for their Friday sermon. Students were advised to cut back on social activities and not to interact outside classrooms. They were ordered to report to the local immigration office for a long registration process normally done for illegals caught crossing the border. Many, including myself, skipped classes in fear, while some opted to move to Canada ... My luck always outshines at the airport when the computer always randomly selects just me for special screenings, but I am used to it now, so I guess it is time to move on.
Mobisher Rabbani, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
I went to lunch around 11 a.m. and called my Guard unit, the 115th Military Police Battalion, at noon to see if we had been activated for duty ... When I got home (that evening), I received a message stating that I had to report to the Salisbury Armory in less than an hour ... By noon the next day we received orders to report to the Pentagon ... I remember the smell of death and jet fuel our first night on duty inside the Pentagon ...
We stayed at the Pentagon for approximately 30 thirty days. During that time we were allowed to tour the crash site with CIA/FBI escorts. The hole in the side of the building does no justice to the hole inside the building that burned through many of the underlying levels ... 9/11 and the resulting War on Terror have changed my way of life forever. Before 9/11 I considered myself something of a patriot ready to defend this country. Having been a Marine, I felt OK with this ideal. The attacks on 9/11 galvanized any pride that I had and formed that it into an unwavering sense of patriotism. Since 9/11, I have been a National Guardsman, an airman, a soldier, and currently a Reservist. I have been a part of the Pentagon mission, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Yet, I have never been more proud to be an American than on that fateful day 10 years ago.
Stephen Fischer, Yukon
Some people had heard of other attacks across the country, that U.S. fighters were racing to intercept other planes … but no one really knew ...
As I subsequently sought a way to get home, the sense of community emerging in the great crowds of people around me was palpable, spontaneously arising from the shared proximity to such a horrific event ... When I finally arrived back to my house, the phone rang off the hook with the concerned calls of friends and family back home in Oklahoma. Those of us who were able volunteered to assist in the surge of planning activities necessary to both respond to the attacks and to protect the country from further attack. For the first couple of weeks, I assisted in Marine Corps planning efforts to ready the service for our national response effort. By the end of September, I was on my way to U.S. Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., responding to a call for additional officers to help plan and execute the operation that was to unfold against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Since then, our country has suffered 1,756 deaths in Afghanistan and another 4,474 in Iraq, with 1,135 amputees from Iraq alone. There has been a financial cost, too, with some estimates ranging as high as $3 trillion when taking into account long-term medical support for our veterans ...
I cannot begin to estimate the intangible costs incurred by families directly impacted by repeated deployments and the wounding or loss of a loved one. These must not be forgotten.
Dakota Wood, Claremore