HORRENDOUS ATTACK    

ON OUR
HOMELAND

Shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, lots of people e-mailed me, or posted online, to express their feelings about the events of September 11th and to encourage each other to fly flags or light candles to demonstrate the meaning of "united" in the name of our great country.  These events have touched us all deeply, whether we know any victims personally or not, and they will probably affect us for the rest of our lives.  We are truly a nation a family and united we stand.

On the anniversary of these events, the hearts and minds of Americans are once again filled with memories and other thoughts and overwhelming emotions about the tragedy and its significance to all of us.  No doubt, this will be the case for the remaining lifetimes of all who experienced it no matter how distant we may have been on the day of the devastation.  

On September 5, 2002, our own featured a story about Long Island children reflecting on their thoughts one year later.  It was called "Voices of the 9/11 Generation."  Reproduced below are the words of a 14-year old Oceanside High School freshman, Denise Huerta, Class of 2006:

Lessons Learned From Sept. 11th
by Denise Huerta

1. I learned that evil exists in my world.
2. I learned that good exists and it's stronger than evil.
3. I learned that life can change in a heartbeat.
4. I learned what a hero really is.
5. I learned that it's important to say "I love you" and to say "goodbye."
6. I learned that we all might possess courage.
7. I learned that I'm angry and, at times, scared, but that won't stop me.
8.  I learned that I'm proud to be from Long Island and I'm prouder to be an American.

And we of the Class of 1960 should likewise be proud of young Denise.

 Click here for a report of the memorial ceremony held in Oceanside September 11, 2002.

One of the most poignant messages I received arrived only two days after the tragic attacks, and I am compelled to share with you below; it was from my dear friend for almost 50 years, our classmate, Nancy Keegan (Bixby).

Here is what Nancy wrote me on the morning of September 13th:

"Oh, Howie I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes.  If I listen to or see any more of the carnage on the TV or the radio, I think I'll go insane.  Everyone here is walking around like zombies.  We all know someone who is missing.  Families are just torn apart!  I, personally, know of two who are missing.  Numbness can't come quick enough, but even that doesn't quell the anger inside and the wish for justice.  When the justice does come, AND IT WILL, it will have to be so absolute and so devastating that we will never again be attacked like this. 

"I long for our lives to be back where they were two days ago; I guess we had become complacent.  I wonder if we will ever again be able to just pack our bags and "GO" wherever we wish and whenever we wish.

"This country and the world have rallied to the support of NY and Washington so beautifully.  I know that everyone, not only NY residents, is feeling this as much as we, here in NY, are.  It doesn't matter how far away you are, every American feels so violated! 

"Here in Long Island, we're so used to hearing planes go over every 10 minutes or so.  The silence now is eerie.  Every morning, though, at around 7:30, a huge plane can be heard coming into NY.  I am assuming it's military personnel or government people here to assess the situation.   Every house has a flag flying.  The street at the end of my block has a flag on every lamppost.  My son heard God Bless America being played by a reporter, and he cried.  Maybe now people will salute the flag as it passes in a parade, and clap for the veterans as they pass by. 

"I don't know; I'm rambling.  Thanks for your shoulder, Howie, I know that you and all of our classmates are just sick at heart, as we were all raised here in NY.  It doesn't really matter if you're living here or there or anywhere, our lives as we knew them last week are over, and a new distrust and a horrible sadness has set in.  I don't think I've laughed in three days."

Thanks, Nancy, for sharing those intimate thoughts with us.  

To read the reactions of hundreds, maybe thousands, of Americans and others ― and to add your own,  if you wish follow this link:
                                                      
http://www.teklock.com/Remember/.  
Go there often, and I assure you, you will swell with pride and be moved to tears of sadness and joy over and over again.  One of my closest and dearest friends, and our classmate, Bob Rubin, went there and posted the following thoughts to share with the world on Friday, September 21, 2001:

"I write, I call, I cry.  I question, I speculate, I fear, I listen, I watch.  I light candles, I sing, I give, I pray.  I have never been so uncertain, so angry, so proud."

Right on, Bob!


           


           

The following quote is from USAToday, October 26, 2001:

"The terrorist attacks Sept. 11 changed the world in myriad ways large and small.  One of the small ways is this: Americans who once viewed New Yorkers as arrogant and self-absorbed now see them as big-hearted and heroic.  These days the Big Apple is the apple of our eye."

The famous radio humorist of the 1930s and '40s, Fred Allen, was quoted as having once said:

"When you are not in New York, you are out of town."

I was touched by the following beautiful poem.  Although considerably longer than the Allen quote, it echoes the same sentiment, updates it, and it says so well what so many people have always felt but are feeling now more than ever.  The poem was sent to me September 28th, 2001, by another dear friend and classmate, Carole Cohen, who  lived in Los Angeles since 1962:

I AM A NEW YORKER
 
by Vincent Pasquale, Maspeth, NY

I am a New Yorker
I do not live in the five boroughs or on the Island or Upstate
I may live hundreds or thousands of miles away
Or I may live just over the GW Bridge
But I am a New Yorker

I am a New Yorker
Whatever took me out of New York:
Business, family or hating the cold did not take New York out of me.
My accent may have faded and my pace may have slowed
But I am a New Yorker

I am a New Yorker
I was raised on Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Rockefeller  Plaza,
The Yankees or the Mets (Giants or Dodgers), Jones Beach or Rye Beach
      or one of the beaches on the sound (Orchard Beach)
I know that "THE END" means Montauk.
Because I am a New Yorker

I am a New Yorker
When I go on vacation, I never look up
Skyscrapers are something I take for granted
The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are part of me
Taxis and noise and subways and "get outa heah" don't rattle me
Because I am a New Yorker

I am a New Yorker
I was raised on cultural diversity before it was politically correct
I eat Greek food and Italian food, Jewish and Middle Eastern food and 
     Chinese food 
Because they are all American food to me.
I don't get mad when people speak other languages in my presence
Because my relatives got to this country via Ellis Island and chose to stay
They were New Yorkers

I am a New Yorker
People who have never been to New York have misunderstood me
My friends and family work in the industries, professions and businesses
     that benefit all Americans!
My firefighters died trying to save New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers
They died trying to save Americans and non-Americans
Because they were New Yorkers.

I am a New Yorker
I feel the pain of my fellow New Yorkers
I mourn the loss of my beautiful city
I feel and dread that New York will never be the same
But then I remember:
I am a New Yorker

And New Yorkers have:
Tenacity, strength and courage way above the norm
Compassion and caring for our fellow citizens
Love and pride in our city, in our state, in our country
Intelligence, experience and education par excellence
Ability, dedication and energy above and beyond
Faith-no matter what religion we practice

Terrorists hit America in its heart
But America's heart still beats strong
Demolished the steel in our buildings,
But it doesn't touch the steel in our souls
Hit us in the pocketbook;
But we'll parlay what we have left into a  fortune
End innocent lives leaving widows and orphans,
But we'll take care of them
Because they are New Yorkers

Wherever we live, whatever we do, whoever we are
There are New Yorkers in every state and every city of this nation
We will not abandon our city
We will not abandon our brothers and sisters
We will not abandon the beauty, creativity and diversity that New York 
      represents
Because we are New Yorkers
         
And we are proud to be New Yorkers

Remember the WTC.

Thank you, Vincent Pasquale, for sharing this with your fellow New Yorkers all over the world. 

Our own Oceanside volunteer firefighters assisted in the rescue efforts at the World Trade Center beginning on the very afternoon following the hateful attacks.  Click here to view the spectacular "Ground Zero" photos taken by our hometown heroes.

The following piece was submitted December 6, 2002, by our classmate, George Pearson (author unknown):

        
Finally someone says it right !!!

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was  actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So an Australian dentist wrote the following to let everyone know what an American is, so they would know when they found one:

An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan. An American may also be a Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim.  In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan.  The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.  An American is also free to believe in no religion.  For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God. 

An American is from the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God given right of each person the pursuit of happiness. 

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need.  When Afghanistan was overrun by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country.  As of the morning of September 11, 2001, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan. 

Americans welcome the best, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best athletes.  But they also welcome the least.  The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. 

These in fact are the people who built America.  Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001, earning a better life for their families.  I've been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 other countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists. 

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did.  So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world.  But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself.  Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place.  They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom.  Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.
       

Thanks, George.

I know we all still feel the loss, and we continue to honor the brave rescuers and survivors, the memories of the fallen, and their bereaved families. 

God bless America and God bless all of us.

Howie

       

 

 

Use your BACK button to return to wherever you were.
TO THE TOP OF THIS PAGE

 

TO 1960Sailors HOME PAGE


Copyright 2001-2002 by Howard B. Levy and 1960 Sailors Association Inc.  All rights reserved.