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I hug my daughter and wife any time I leave them, because any of us could be next. I think this has made my life mean a lot more. I do not put things off anymore. Tell your family you love them every chance you get and tell your friends the same. This is the greatest nation in the history of this planet. We will transcend this and make the world a better place still. We have always been vulnerable because of our uniqueness, but what we stand for is inherently valuable. God Bless Everyone! —Will Melahn, Morehead, KY
When I heard about the attacks in New York and Washington DC, I realized I was witnessing a major historical event, and at that moment I hated being a part of history. It made me think about my grandparents, and what they might have been feeling when they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. On both days, a terrible kinship was formed among us all. For better or for worse, Americans now share this tragedy; it has marked us all.
That said, the awful events of that day reinforced something I have always believed: evil exists, and certainly 9/11 demonstrated the kind of brutal, unthinking evil that is out there in the world. But every breath we take, everything we do to live our lives in spite of the knowledge that such evil exists, represents a triumph over it. —Emily Merowitz, Brighton, MA
I lost my best friend and my life has never been the same —Danielle Schmidt, Palo Alto, CA
My job certainly feels less meaningful after 9/11, something that I've only recently come to consciously realize. I build Web sites for a financial information company. I wasn't a firefighter covered in ash at Ground Zero, or a construction worker clearing debris after the fact. I'm not a soldier fighting in Afghanistan. Nothing I do on a daily basis directly has anything to do with our country fighting terrorism.
As a result, I think I went through a period of depression where my job suffered because, frankly, I could have cared less if I did well or not. I felt like it didn't really matter, so why bother? In addition, my usual hobbies were being ignored. Anything that took any effort, to me, was a waste of mine and everyone's time because it wasn't helping people. Who cares if yet another financial information Web site never gets built, ultimately? —Chris Druckenmiller, Minneapolis, MN
Honestly, my life, or more accurately my perception of life has changed very little because of 9/11. It was a tremendous tragedy, and my sympathy goes out to anyone that lost loved ones or has suffered needless because of it. However, why it is any more of a tragedy than the senseless violence that goes on every minute of everyday on any given street corner, or in any home or school across America? Hate, violence, death, bigotry, racism, religious intolerance are not something new, especially in our country. It's unfortunate that it took an event on this magnitude to wake so many people up from the cold, emotionless slumber that we've been conditioned to live everyday.
America is my home. I don't feel any less safe than I did a year ago, or two years ago. Everyday is a risk, on any given day I probably have a better chance of getting hit by drunk driver or catching a stray bullet from a police shootout with some drug dealer or mixed up teenager. The terrorists don't really scare me. What really scares me is the blindness, the ignorance and lack of concern about what goes on here every minute of everyday, not just on 9/11. By not seeing or feeling or even caring about these events they will continue to perpetuate, grow in number and in magnitude. My fear is eventually we will be so conditioned to hate, violence, intolerance, and death that the only thing we react to is 9/11 because nothing will do. Bottom line is that 9/11 was horrific event but what will it take to invoke that same passion and emotion for the events of September 23, January 15, May 9, June 17, etc? — Andrew Lee Ceasar, Minneapolis, MN
In my work as a librarian, I use a box cutter daily to open boxes or slit tape. After 9/11, I can't stand to have a box cutter blade open on my desk. I use it and put it away immediately because each time I see the blade, I can see the throats of pilots and flight attendants being slit. —Barbara Weldon, Bloomington, MN
As a twenty five year old Korean American immigrant to California I've grown up in a period of increasing tensions. School itself had offered an encouraging environment for a growing debate and the politics of the day pushed me to be politically vocal. September 11th has changed very little in terms of the day to day actions I take but it has completely changed my outlook concerning my freedom of expression.
I have lost the ability to have that political conversation and critique of policy. Those with whom I'm giving this designation are evenly distributed throughout the society, they include my bosses, my friends, and classmates. The opinions I am known to make have increasingly represent a minority in the United States but a majority in world perspective, yet this marginalization has left me quite bothered and has shown me the virtues of the first 10 Amendments of the Constitution. In the name of security I watch those rights ignored by the state department. Since September 11th I've learned to watch what I say when before I had the freedom to say what ever I [want]. —Ernest Lee, Irvine, CA
I appreciate this country more. I'm really very sick of people who say it's partially our fault. That's exactly like a rape victim blaming themselves... But, you won't say that on the air. —Bradley Nesseth, Minneapolis, MN
My life personally wasn't directly affected by September 11, but I'm increasingly alarmed by the initially creeping, now cantering, soon to be galloping, all-American version of fascism that the short-sighted, arrogant Junta now running the country is all too happy to institute. People are still reeling, fearful, and kept in a state of confusion and low-level despair by the constant images and stories from last year's incident. No sooner does it look as if the nation is at risk of getting on with life than some alarming tale is spat at us from an uncritical media. Once we're stripped, even in a bit-by-bit fashion, what makes [the] U.S., who are we? —Donna Miller, New York, NY
Kate, people I know and people I work with have also been called up. I do not know where they are.
I remember. —Inna Tysoe, Sacramento, CA
Absolutely! I had the fortune to help work at the WTC site last October. In spite of the immense suffering associated with 9/11 I had several valuable spiritual experiences. I worked at Ground Zero midnight shift for a week. I learned that each and every American must take responsibility for the suffering and inequity in the world. What can we do in our own communities to end violence and war? What can we do to bring people closer together and increase harmony across the artificial boundaries of ethnicity, religion etc.? How can we create sustainable communities at home and around the world which do not use more than our share of the resources? I got involved with 3 local schools where we address these issues with staff, students and community. I also took my family on a trip to Bali that I'd wanted to do for 20 years. So many people fear flying and traveling now, I don't. Like many I feel important things should be done now! All Americans need to become aware of geopolitics, environmental issues, and human rights. Choose your issue, educate yourself and make a stand! —Harrington Mark, Santa Rosa, CA
My life has not changed since September 11th. In the 80's and 90's I listened to Central Americans, friends working in Kosovo and the Balkans, indigenous people, Iraqi environmentalists, economists, and others and was opened to the effects that United States foreign and domestic policies have on and throughout the whole globe. I am saddened daily that I enjoy a relatively privileged life at the expense of others and the planet we live on. This is not new for me.
I am troubled that the events of September 11 are now being abused and that more innocent people's lives will be made more difficult for the profit of a few. I am convinced that our wonderful planet has the resources to insure clean water, adequate nutrition, and thoughtful education for all people but remain doubtful that as humans we will be able to work together to share her wonderful gifts. —Mary B. Newcomb, Duluth, MN