#965 | Tuesday, March 12th, 2002
I was at work when the horrific events of September 11th transpired. A fellow IT counterpart messaged me
from Milwaukee and said the second building had been hit. I had no idea what he was speaking of since we
are a "silent" facility with no radios allowed. I messaged him back and asked him what he was speaking of. When he told me, I was speechless. I immediately got my radio out and turned it on. I cannot convey with words the feelings that ran through me. The sadness and horror cannot even epitomize my thoughts. I went home at lunch to get my little portable TV. The rest of the day I had fellow employees in and out of my office.

I cried that day. I cried for the people who were senselessly killed and hurt. I cried for the families
on their loss. I also cried because I knew now what direction our country would turn towards and I cried for fear of what the future would hold.

I actually won 100$ that day. I had bet a friend months before that something like this would happen in the first year Bush was in office and that we would be at war.

No one takes from the horrific events of the WTC and the pain that is there. But where does it end.
Does man continue to use war and destruction as a means to solve all problems? Do we continue to use
tragic events to further political, military and economic agendas.

I stand firm in my belief that there are many hidden agendas and if anyone has watched the recent events
and the Presidents press releases, the plan is slowly unfolding as to what the real design is. It was never
for Bin Laden. It just provided an opportunity to put the plan in motion and to get the backing of the American people. The next marks are slowly being leaked to the public...maybe to let us know...maybe to see what our opinion would be.

I stand firm on that yes the people responsible for the WTC bombing need to be held accountable. I stand
firm that collateral damage or sacrifice as we like to term it now, is sad but necessary is wrong. If
anyone looks back through the last 20 years, the military and economic sanctions have done nothing to bend policy or oust heads of government. In reality they have killed, maimed and harmed millions of innocent people.

By our own definitions of terrorism [FBI, DOD], we are terrorists in our own right. We are no better than those that we condemn. We just justify it better.

The FBI has defined terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

The Department of Defense also defines terrorism as, “The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives.” Where does this place the U.S. in the scope of a terrorist?

Are we not by our actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere, such as Iraq, using violence and military/economic action to force and coerce civilian populations and governments for political and ideological objectives? Are we not decimating a population in the name of democracy, free will and war on terror?

President Bush has stated, “America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world and we stand together to win the war against terrorism.” I bow my head in silence whenever I hear this. For while our country may justify all of our past, present and future actions in the name of peace, as Albert Einstein so aptly wrote, you cannot simultaneously prepare for and prevent war.

I know our country is great. I know our country affords me the opportunity to voice my opinions without fear
of reprisals. I know our country allows me the day to day luxuries that are privilege and not found in some
countries. I know our country allows me to go to universities, hold a job and walk down the road without having to move for a man or lower my eyes. I do not dispute those facts. The freedoms and opportunities that our country allots us are intrinsic to the basis of what our society stands for.

But while I love our country and think America is great, I will not totally and blindly believe everything
that our government says nor will I absolve them of any culpability in the ill feelings that some nations
harbor against us.

President Bush states that we must rid the world of the evildoers, root out all evil. I often wonder if he realizes the context of that remark. For if one looks for the evildoers in all affronts for terrorism, one must also look to those within the US and the US government. For decades the United States has befriended, funded, trained, armed, worked along side of and supplied those they now deem worthy of this life’s expulsion.

While we are still reeling from the horrific tragedies of Sept. 11th, we should not let it blind us into unilateral decisions that affect a world population.

I do not have the answers as to how to govern a country or a world. But I know in my heart that if we all do not come to other means aside from death, there will soon be no world on which to look upon. The world will be void of that which we deem capable of intelligent thought.

Since man begot man, the thirst to conquer, control and to covet have led him on a quest to destroy all that is.

If all governments, including ours, truly wish for a peaceful world, actions other than the bombing and destruction caused by machines of war will have to be used.
susan lane | 39 | North Carolina

#966 | Tuesday, March 12th, 2002
September 11 started like any other day for me. I work at an Elementary School and we all were getting ready for the day to begin and taking precautions just in case. I went outside to do my normal duty as the cross walk person and I got hit by a car who did not stop at the stop sign I was holding. I went down in pain on the ground I did not get his liscense plate number, I only got his car make and model. I just recently had surgery on my knee for that injury. For the past 6 months everytime I would take a step I felt so much pain I never thought I would be the same. I am in recovery and going through therapy right now and I feel so much better. I do realize the events of that day were hard for so many and I could never feel their pain of losing someone they loved or cared so much about, but I do have a strong feeling for this day that I am going through that so many of my friends and family are having a hard time understanding. I will always have a place in my heart for this day for myself and for so many others who have lost. God Bless.
Debbie Purcell | 33 | Colorado

#967 | Tuesday, March 12th, 2002
A Run for Life

My life changing experience occurred on 9/11/01 while on a summer travel trip to the US Mid- Atlantic states in our trailer. All was going well until my husband and I were finishing up our sightseeing in Washington, DC. Early on that morning, we left in the dark to catch the subway to the first stop on our busy schedule for the day, the 9 AM tour of the Pentagon.
We arrived by Metro subway before 8 AM to allow time to go through heavy security. After showing a photo ID, we were given a numbered badge to wear. As always I scoped out an alternative exit and a bathroom. Being married to a fireman for 43 years has taught me to be prepared for anything.
At exactly 8:45 AM, a tall and distinguished US Army Honor Guard Tour Guide (in full dress uniform including white gloves) gave us our marching orders and had us place all bags, fanny packs and purses in a closet to be locked up securely until we returned. Then he had the 30 of us line up 2 by 2 to enter through the alarmed security doors. We were now on our way through their shopping mall into the hallowed halls of the Pentagon.
About 1/3 of the way through our tour, we heard a loud boom and felt strong movement. Folks in California might call it a 4.3 earthquake. It was now approximately 9:30 AM. Our tour guide yelled 3 pieces of information:
(our route) “FOLLOW ME”, (our destination) “TO THE METRO EXIT”,
(our procedure) “ON THE RUN!” We complied willingly for after having gone up ramps and down stairs, we had no idea where we were and no clue as how to exit this huge building safely.
While keeping my eyes focused on that tall tour guide in front of us, I listened to the people pouring out of offices offering guesses as to what had happened (a bomb in the courtyard, plane landing at Reagan airport in trouble and flew into the Pentagon, etc.) What I did know was that something serious had happened. This was not a practice run.
A few civilian employees were falling apart emotionally even though there was neither smoke nor fire where we were. Everyone was running the same direction, but I wasn’t sure about their knowledge of a Disaster Exit Plan or if there was one. I knew that our salvation from this experience depended upon following our tour guide’s instructions.
During the run down the hall my life did not flash before my eyes, but other thoughts were racing through my mind. One example was the fact that the paper work on our financial affairs had not been brought up to date before we left home. If Bill and I were to die at the same time, the kids would be searching for a needle in a haystack. In fact, if I died before Bill, he’d have the same problem. I told myself that I would take care of that business detail as soon as we returned home. Also without ID, the only thing people would know about me was that I was a grandma because the front of my tee shirt said so. I won’t bore you with any other crazy conversations I was having with myself.
There was a second Army officer tour guide with us. Because my husband has artificial hips and cannot run quickly this tour guide stayed with him the entire run constantly asking if he was all right. This one also assured me that the closet would be open so we could get our personal items. I wondered if that was a fact or a hope. Sure enough, after going the security doors, I swooped up my mini-disaster fanny pack out of the closet and quickly moved toward the exit. Just before we left the building, we passed by our tall tour guide standing against the wall. We gave him our numbered ID badges, the only identification we had throughout the entire experience and the only proof that we had made it out safely. We thanked him quickly and went out into the south parking lot. Adrenaline was abundant for flight, not to be wasted on fright.
We turned westward and saw billowing black smoke, but it wasn’t until I heard a car radio blaring the news that I learned what had happened in New York and to the Pentagon. We all were then told to move away from the building because there was a fourth plane heading towards Washington, DC. That was the one that went down in Pennsylvania. I turned eastward and saw in the distance the beautiful white Capitol. It had been spared but at such a price.
When the F-16 military planes roared overhead, we knew that protection for the city had arrived. They were certainly a welcomed sight. We watched the military set up triage and begin organizing their “troops” while they waited for fire department equipment and ambulances to arrive. Only one trip by the medivac helicopter could be made with the injured before all of the planes were grounded in the country.
Seeing that our training in CPR and first aid was not needed, our next challenge was to find a way back to our trailer in Maryland. We began a long trip around to the other side of the Pentagon where we saw flames, smoke and the gaping hole in its side. We were aware that with this kind of damage there had to be many injuries and even deaths. Sadly, we continued on and climbed a wall into Arlington Cemetery for the long, long walk to a working subway.
The Washington DC of Sunday, September 9th with wall-to-wall people was gone. Having been evacuated, DC was like a ghost town with the streets occupied by only police, military with big guns, a man in a suit running with an attaché case, and two tourists, us. But underground the subway was bustling with activity. There were people who had never ridden the subway and were at a loss as to how to get home. We, with city and subway maps in our possession, were the center of attention for quite a while. For two weeks we had seen people with their heads buried in newspapers and books, talking to no one. Now everyone was talking to someone about what had happened, where they were when it happened, and trying to figure out why it had happened.
Even though we had learned about the attacks on the World Trade Center, nothing had prepared us for seeing their collapse repeated over and over again on the TV for days and realizing the terrible loss of life. We had just been to the top two weeks before. The many pictures I had taken showing their beauty were still in my camera not to be developed until we were home.
We finally got in touch with the family to let them know that we were OK. This was the only day of our four month trip that the family knew exactly where we were would be. We were in big trouble because they were sure that we could have found a pay phone somewhere in DC to let them know hours before that we were alive and well. I told the kids that this was payback for the times we waited up when they were out past curfew. They were not impressed with my attempt at humor.
We left Washington the next day and began the long trip home to the West Coast. We saw God Bless America, United We Stand and Prayer for Our Leaders written on signs everywhere, even on school marquees. Flags of all sizes were flown from poles, windows and cars. It was apparent that a great change had happened to the American people over night.
When folks at home found out where we had been during the terrorists’ attack, they asked me a lot of questions. My answers included the following: “ No, I wasn’t afraid. No, we didn’t panic. No, I didn’t think I was going to die. I guess it wasn’t my time to go.” My responses seemed so inadequate after awhile.
These questions made me re-think my experience and re-evaluate my life and my priorities. At the same time, my pastor Dave Moore of Southwest Community Church in Indian Wells, CA preached powerful messages about sharing God’s love and salvation. He made me aware that because of what had occurred on 9/11, people all over were searching for answers as to what had happened, what was important in their lives, and what they could do about it. I was challenged to meet my responsibility as a Christian to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to those around me.
While I am not shy about my faith, I have never been one to get up on a soapbox and preach either. I knew that I had a story to tell, but how was I going to do it. My decision was to change my Christmas letter that normally shares family news to one about my experience and what it meant to me. Since this would be a totally new challenge I yelled to God for help, and the letter was completed in an amazingly short time. I decided that not only would I sent it to the 250 people on my Christmas mailing list, I would give it to anyone who sent me any kind of letter, card, solicitation, or bill. It was MY money paying for all of it, so I was going for broke. The worst thing that could happen would be a shortening of my Christmas card list for the next year. The best thing would be changed lives. I anticipated some interesting reactions, and I got some.
My letter included a shorten version of the experience, the following reflections, and what I had learned from them. Now it was my turn to ask questions. So here it goes.

“Exit from our physical life can happen any time, any place and in any way.
Do you know where you are going to spend eternity? Where is your destination?
To whom are you looking for your security? Who is your tour guide? How are
you going to get there? What is the procedure? Jesus gives the answers to these
questions in the book of John in the Bible. He states in John 11: 25,26, ‘I am the
resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and
whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’
I ask you dear family and friends, do you believe this? Jesus is my Tour Guide.
My destination is to be with God for eternity, and I am following His instructions
completely. He says BELIEVE, and our action is TO BELIEVE.
I urge you to read the book of John for THE PLAN given for a life of
peace and purpose now and life eternal whenever it may come. If you want to
know about what is coming in the world situation, read the book of Daniel
(Old Testament) and The Revelation (New Testament), and you will discover
who wins.”

After the Christmas letter went out, this event began to take on a life of its own. People began to ask me for copies of my letter to send to their family and friends. I was asked to share an expanded version with several groups. Tapes of my talk were requested and were sent out. E-mail of the letter even went to Africa.
Then I started a new project. It took seven phone numbers, but I worked my way through Ft. Meyer where the tour guides are stationed and the Pentagon where they were assigned. I finally was connected with their supervisor’s office. He was intending to write an article about them and wanted me to fax everything I had written about the experience. By that time, this included not only the Christmas letter but also an evaluation letter about our tour that I had sent to the Pentagon. I, in turn, wanted an address so I could send the tour guides an appropriate thank you along with my Christmas letter and everything else I had written about them. Warned that this would take a long time for delivery because of security, I was prepared to patiently wait, and I did. Besides, the more people who had to screen my letter were more people who had to read my questions.
I finally received a response from the tall tour guide asking if we wanted to complete the tour when they were up and running again. He would like to finish what he had started that day. My answer, of course, was that we would be there any time it could happen and wanted him to be our leader again. He does not consider his actions during the evacuation to be heroic. He just was doing his job as our tour guide and as a soldier in the US Army. But after all of us had been safely evacuated, he felt relief that he was going home to his wife and baby.
Someone told me that I should write a book about what had happened. This is the closest I’ll ever get to that challenge. Another suggested that I send my letter to President Bush. I am still contemplating that one. He hears from generals and admirals all of the time. Maybe the commander-in-chief would be interested in what two of his rank and file did on 9/11.
After this experience, I will never look at life or death the same way. This has given me a new perspective on my salvation experience. I certainly have been moved out of my comfort zone of the church pew. Every time I am before a microphone my heart races, my palms are sweaty and my knees are shaking. I am not a public speaker, but I do believe that I survived this experience for a purpose and an opportunity not to be wasted. I am to glorify my God and spread His message of salvation and grace. Jesus states in Matthew 10:32, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before God in heaven”. What a wonderful promise.
I do hope that those reading this story will ask themselves, their family and friends the same questions that I asked in my letter. Now is the time for all of us to evaluate who and what is important to us in this life and for all of eternity.

Marilyn Morsch | 64 | California

#968 | Tuesday, March 12th, 2002
I remember when the first plane hit. I remeber it like it was yesterday. My best friend and i were shooting dove and listining to the radio when a speciel announcement came on the radio telling us about the plane making swiss cheese outof the world trade center. We rushed inro the house and minutes later a second plane hit. I was filled with emotion and most of all I was pissed!During second period i viewed a horrific sight on TV, I saw a people jumping from the burning buildings. This filled me with rage. I thought "its that bad that people would rather take their own lives then to die inside the burning buildings, who ever has done this is going to pay!" i thought of what these people were thinking before they hit the ground and that just filled me with more rage and sarrow. I was having fights with my father frequently that week and I drove home almost in tears witch I would never think of doing, when I got home I saw a huge flag hanging from my windmill and I ran over to my father and hugged him and said I LOVE YOU. All this made me realize how lucky I was to have a family like mine. I ask youn to look baround and appreciate how lucky and blessed you are.
Johnathan Gibbs #9 | 16 | New Mexico

#969 | Tuesday, March 12th, 2002
I will never, ever forget 9/11. I was sitting at my desk in work and waiting for my husbands usual morning call about 9:05 telling me he was in work. My husband works 6 blocks from the WTC and used to take the PATH train through tower one. My phone rang about 8:50 and he was screaming on his cell phone telling me a "bomb" just went off on the top of one of the towers and debris was falling everywhere. He was out the tower only about 5 after the first plane hit. He was across the street in the front of some store and he didn't know what happened, only heard the explosion and saw things falling around him so he just ran without looking back and made it to his job safely THANK GOD and after hours of him trying to get out of the city, he made it home to me safely. That was one of the worst phone calls I have ever received. I will never forget the way I felt that day and the way I still continue to feel even 6 months later. God Bless America & all it's people!
Jennifer | 29 | New Jersey

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