Where do we go from here? September 11th, the United States was reminded in the most horrific of manners that even a superpower is penetrable. What I as an American citizen take for granted on a daily basis -- relative safety, security, and confidence of character -- was nearly shaken down to its very core as 4 commercial airliners were hijacked and taken on voyages of terror and carnage, smashing gaping, smoldering holes in not only our military nerve center, the Pentagon, but also our largest symbol of prosperity and wealth, the World Trade Center in New York City. Two were flown into the WTC, which ultimately collapsed as its steel structures buckled under temperatures exceeding 14,000 degrees. A fourth plane crashed in rural western Pennsylvania, 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. It will take weeks, maybe months, to calculate the death toll (numbers reaching the thousands already from the World Trade Center alone); itís brutally obvious that these figures will soar. Itís simply unfathomable to me.
My initial reactions fluctuated like a basketball as I went from sorrow and pain, to unyielding rage and hostility. Knowing both my brother and sister live and work in Washington D.C., I scrambled to receive confirmation of their safety. Thankfully, they were indeed safe. Although I felt an unparalleled sense of calm upon hearing of my families good health, I began to wonder about the other brothers and sisters who have found out and will continue to find out that the fates of their loved ones differ greatly than that of mine, because theyíre certainly out there. Theyíre right here at the University of Pittsburgh with me. As the casualties increase, there will undoubtedly be lives on this campus altered forever. It is now that I find myself overcome with a rage that is unyielding and unwilling to compromise. What human being could orchestrate and carry out an act as unspeakable as this? What cause is so just and worthy that not only do you take your own life, but also the lives of tens upon thousands of innocent civilians? Itís awfully difficult to keep a cool head at times like these. I in my lifetime have never seen an action so callous and sickening.
Although immediate and stalwart retaliation is a byproduct of human nature, will it solve the problem? For the time being, I donít believe it will. Taking care of our family members, friends and fellow citizens, as well as assisting anyone who needs help in any manner as a result of this nightmare should be our priorities. These courses of action will not only make a significant difference in the lives of individuals, but also reaffirm the strength of the American spirit and put on display for the world what we already know as an unparalleled solidarity. Iím entirely confident that not only extended security measures will be taken, but that our military stands stronger than ever, ready and prepared to carry out its duty. Policy for years to come may be reformed, but, nevertheless, this is a country that we as Americans will continually strive to maintain as the greatest on earth. We shall succeed with flying colors in doing so.
I am proud beyond words to be an American and although this disgusting act could temporarily alter my mindset into one driven by frustration and anger, I will make every attempt to turn it into one that further augments my understanding as to why acts like what occurred this month are committed and how they can be prevented in the future. Although a small world made these tragedies easier, this same small world should make communication, reconciliation and toleration even more plausible. Every human being deserves as much.
Editors note: This article originally appeared in the October print edition of the Pittsburgh Standard
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