On 9/11/01, my wife and I were in Arlington, Va. I was approximately one and one half miles from the Pentagon playing in a tennis tournament at the Army and Navy Club and my wife was a couple of blocks away from the Pentagon on a tour bus. The American Airlines plane came in approximately 3-400 yards to the left of where four of us were sitting. We heard the explosive roar of the airplane engines as the plane accelerated it’s speed and altered it’s course from the White House to the Pentagon. As the plane disappeared from our view we sat in stunned silence (3 seconds or so) when we heard the thump as the plane hit the Pentagon and the “whump” as the fuel exploded. I ran to my car and raced to the Pentagon to find my wife’s bus. Fortunately her bus had left the area but Claire did see the flash of the explosion. Not seeing any buses in the area I took pictures and immediately left the area getting out of the way of fire and other vehicles as they were heading toward the disaster.
The area of the Pentagon I entered was the Diplomatic Parking lot. There was no panic in the people leaving the building. It was like they were just leaving work and walking to their destinations. The smoke was rising over the building and it is possible that those leaving the building were not sure of what had happened.
There is no doubt in my mind that the terrorist hijackers couldn’t clearly distinguish the White House so they altered their direction slightly to hit the Pentagon.
What has always concerned my wife and I is why we only saw one other plane in the air and that was at dusk as we stood on the balcony or our hotel and had only heard one sonic boom later in the afternoon.. We thought at that time and believe today that we were poorly prepared to defend our Capitol despite many articles that had been written about how easy it would be to fly a plane into a building and destroy it.
I read the articles in today’s JS about before, after and future feelings about 9/11, a couple of these articles I read with dismay. One writer asks “why are we not doing things to make it better for our kids and our children’s kids” (like we aren’t??; good grief) and another writes “we continue to cling to the myth that violence can solve our problems.” He writes the term “passive resistance” was re-coined by Mohandas Gandhi to the “force which is born of truth and love”. Both writers speak of non-violence as the answer to living together in peace on one small planet.
Both writers should join the real world. And maybe will some day as they mature. Wouldn’t we all like to live peacefully even in one small “segment” of society, say Peoria. We would not need a police force, juvenile courts, jails and nor prisons. All our kids would love to go to school and learn. And that is just the Peoria area. Come back and spread truth and love. Help solve all the small wars waged by people who would kill people of all races if given the opportunity, who envy the status of more developed worlds. Solve thousands of years history’s of divisions of religions like the terrorist Shiites and Sunnis. Just like these terrorist animals who wreaked sorrow and disaster on 9/11. I reprint a quote from an intellect in this month Forbes Magazine that says the “major differences between us and animals are that we drink when we are not thirsty and have sex anytime we want it.” Animals like lions have compassion too, they take good care of their young, but I suggest one stay away from them when they are hungry or get “riled” up.
Most of what I see the overly liberals writing about today is blame it all on the Republicans especially Bush and Cheney. I regret that this administration has made many mistakes but so did Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson, Kennedy, and Clinton just to name a few. So did leaders from Lebanon, Germany, France, Russia and Japan. Violence happens when unlawful force is visited on usually tolerant people. This country has shown more tolerance than probably any country in the world.
I suggest those who believe in turning the other cheek read “The Open Society and It’s Enemies” written by author Karl Popper in 1945. Popper wrote “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”
The hatred by some people who would commit violent acts against us and each other are as old as history itself. Those who believe all problems are caused by the current administration need to read more history (include the Bible) about world events and especially, read the history of the Middle East. (I have read many books on world history, even taught it, and am reading “Fiasco” now; not that I believe everything I read) Maybe some “truth and love people” go to Israel and live for a year near tolerant terrorists like the Hezbollah or the Hamas. Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Iran can use people with artistic and international relations talents too. If you are looking for a non-violent world don’t stay in the U.S. We have more violent and non-violent people incarcerated that any other country in the world. All these imprisoned had most of the same opportunity we all have; get a free education and do an opportunity to do an honest day’s work. My ancestors fled “peaceful” Switzerland to escape religious persecution.
As to solving our problems with “violence” who do they think is protecting their freedom to live, write, get educated, speak freely and hold jobs or have families that had the opportunity to make money in a capitalist society that allow these writers to graduate from the University of Illinois and a design school in New York? I graduated from “lowly” Western because my parents had no money but I could use the GI Bill of Rights. Most Western graduates I know have more than a modicum of common sense, so much missing from many graduates of elite schools. I suggest both return to the Peoria area and help spread tolerance and diversity (didn’t Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner write “Has it occurred to people that the more we try to teach our kids to accept diversity, that we might be encouraging them to do the opposite? On the farm we had an old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make the horse drink. Think about it.
I close with a quote not mine but could have been, “unlawful combatants have always been considered a scourge to humanity, today they pose the greatest single threat to organized society, and every opportunity must be taken to de-legitimize them”.