Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 2001

People escaping the hellish inferno of the building--by jumping to their deaths
In honor of the day, I am posting here an e-mail I wrote that evening, after the day that changed something in all of us:
 
9/11/01

Dear Everyone Who’s Written to Check On Me Today.
Thanks for your concern.
            We are in complete shock. That is, even those of us who had expected something horrible to happen, something that would be so devastating that it would reach a place beyond our imagination (*)
            At nine in the morning I left my beach house in the Hamptons toward my home in Port Washington--East Egg on your literary map--which is 20 miles outside NYC. My writing group was to meet  that night. I was listening to Books-On-Tape, when, forty-five minutes into my drive, I needed to change a cassette. That’s when I heard the news. Two planes, one after the other crashed into The World Trade Center. “Here we go again,” I thought. “Those small planes. I hate them. They are prone to accidents, flown by amateurs.” But two? The gears engaged in my brain. Sabotage. An act of terror.
            The feeling of deja vu--the events I've witnessed in Israel from close and far—settled on me with some strange remoteness. The wait was over. It had finally happened. I called my husband, Ron, whom I had left behind at the beach house, and told him to turn on the TV. There was an odd utterance of sounds coming out of him as he watched with disbelief.
            “Talk,” I implored.
            Finally he became more coherent and proceeded to describe what he was seeing.
            The a scream. “Oh, my God!”
            “What?” I asked. “What’s happening?”
            “Oh, my God! The Building is falling down.”
            “What do you mean ‘falling down?’ It’s just a small plane—”
            “It’s a jetliner!”
            I raised the sound on the radio. They reported about a fire ball thirty stories high.
            “This is the moment that would change my life, our life, the world’s life,” I thought. Yet I was too calm. Five of our kids work in Manhattan—two daughters and three sons-in-law. I should panic. Something was terribly wrong with me.
            On the cell phone, his voice shaking, Ron insisted I return to the beach house. “They’ll block all the roads in and out of the city,” he said. “You may not be able to return for a long time.”
            “This is the beginning of a war,” I said. I had been driving for an hour. The notion that the Long Island Expressway would be closed due to a terrorist attack was absurd. Yet, that was how things worked in Israel. Nothing was absurd anymore. Not if the World Trade Center tower fell down. Fell down? I still thought that only the top floors had collapsed, from the spot where the plane had hit and upward.
            I pulled onto the next exit, drove the bridge over the highway to the south service road, then stopped on the shoulder. My heart started to beat fast.  There was no one around, all was eerily quiet, the radio turned down again so I could gather myself. I examined the calm with which I handled the news and knew that, as in time of a crisis, the impact would hit me later with force that would leave me reeling for a long time.
            I engaged the gear and began driving back, calling the kids. They had to evacuate all the tall buildings. My youngest daughter was in the street when she answered her cell phone. Her office is located in a basement, and people in her company stayed put. But since her wall borders the 86th Street subway station, which is one of the largest subway intersections, I ordered her to leave. She wanted to go in to inform her staff.
            “Call on your cell phone,” I told her. “Just go home. We haven’t seen the last of the surprises.”
            She started walking. As did my other daughter. Soon after, most phone lines to the city were partly disconnected or overtaxed. Our son-in-law, who lives in Long Island, walked across the bridge to Brooklyn, where he hitchhiked home.
            Ron’s niece, a mother of three children, the youngest only six months old, works in the building across the street from the WTC. She managed to flee when her office was hit hard by debris. In the confusion and black cloud, she found herself on the Staten Island ferry, shoeless and bagless. Ron’s two cousins who work on the 80th floor of the World Trade Center happened to be out of the office. One was away on a business trip, the other took their father to the eye doctor today! The mother called us earlier: Her husband's progressive blindness had saved this son's life...
 
(*)        Now re my remarks about those who expected this disaster: Last year I attended a lecture by Richard Clark, US Counter-Terrorism Coordinator at the National Security Council.  He said that Osama Bin Laden, a Muslim billionaire hiding in Afghanistan, had trained hundreds of militants to attack the West. His operation was very professional. His plan was--still is--to take over the West, the infidels. (He's behind the U.S.S. Cole attack and others.)  Bin Laden had already planted many highly trained people in the US. Some of them were known to the security authorities, some not. The problem was with the INS. Our immigration laws are extremely lax. Coupled with a legal system that grants instant rights to people suspected of trying to penetrate the US for hostile purposes, these men had been allowed to enter and were then told to come back for a hearing "in 8 months." In the meantime they were let loose on the streets of the USA.
            Often, if the FBI or CIA can't show the INS enough evidence about the INTENT of these suspects--only claim that they know from secret sources that these people had been members of terrorist groups in Egypt or Syria or Algeria. Judges then demand TESTIMONIES from these sources (How is the CIA supposed to fly in the sources?) Needless to say, most of these terrorists simply enter the country because of our liberal legal protection. They come in illegally and are instantly being handed the Bill of Rights.
            Once they are here and are legally cleared from any wrong-doing, the law prohibits the FBI to just follow them or tap their phones... . The FBI must show the judge PROOF of these men's conspiracies.
            To our question why didn't the public know about it, Clark said that the media considered these reports to be unnecessary alarmist and simply buried them.
            So here we are. The day that would mark the start of World War III.
            Talia

P.S. Two days later I got a call from a friend: Hundreds of cars at Long Island train stations had been left there, their owners—commuters to New York City--never returned to claim them.

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