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One year later: Reflecting on 9/11

September 11, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

A year ago today, the editors of The Herald-Mail were midway through their morning when a bulletin came across the wire saying that one of New York City's World Trade Towers was on fire.

They turned on the small TV in the conference room and watched as the smoke poured out of the building from a place so high that some felt that a plane must have strayed off course, by accident or through some mechanical malfunction.

Then, in slow motion it seemed, a jetliner came into view, its pilot apparently trying to turn around the building, as if the tower were some marker in an airborne race.

But a moment later, the plane slammed into the building, shattering the steel structure, thousands of lives and any illusions about America being isolated by the oceans from the mindless violence of the Middle East. A third plane hit the Pentagon, and like it or not, the nation was at war.

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The tragedy brought out the best in Americans, beginning with the passengers who gave their lives to bring down a fourth hijacked plane that might have been headed for the White House.

Millions donated blood, contributed to fund drives and spent months at the Ground Zero crash site in New York City feeding the crews there. Like London during Hitler's blitzkreig raids during World War II, Americans reacted to adversity by extending hands to each other, even as they vowed to deliver a death blow to the perpetrators.

Professional counselors interviewed at the time offered this advice: No one lives forever and tomorrow is not guaranteed. All we have is today, to live as best we can, helping our fellow human beings, not only because it makes us feel good, but also because it's the right thing to do.

That is why the aftermath of 9/11 has to be about more than defeating the terrorists. America also has the task of replacing their backward, hate-driven ideology with something better, starting with Afghanistan, which, with the world's help, can become the envy of its neighbors with an educated and prosperous population.

So on this day, we ask readers to remember not only the victims and those who died trying to save them, but also that it will take good works as well as bombs to win this war.

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