A Change of Heart

Focus On Life After 9 / 11

November 04, 2001|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

A 47-year-old woman starts thinking of the importance of close bonds with her co-workers, who she now believes may be the final friendly faces she sees should any catastrophe take her life at work.

An 18-year-old college freshman realizes she doesn't want to live stupidly any more, resolving never to climb into a car driven by friends who have been drinking.

A 39-year-old writer becomes determined to be kinder to all those around her.

We asked readers to share their stories of how the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and ensuing war have changed their perspectives on life. Most wrote about fear, confusion, a sense of being unsafe, and anger at the thought that there exist people with such rancor for the United States that these tragedies occurred.

Here are our readers' thoughts:

'I'VE NEVER FELT SO PROUD'

KATRINA SHIREE HARDAWAY, 17,

OF BALTIMORE

"This was a truly a horrific event, but two good things did come out of this. One, America will never be so conceited as to think our country is untouchable. And two, we are coming together and realizing our country is worth fighting for. Personally, I have never felt so patriotic in my entire life. A month ago, I didn't see how people could risk their lives for their country; now I do. I've never felt so proud to be an American."

'NO ONE IS INVINCIBLE'

LAURA HILTZ, 18, OF TOWSON

"The terrorist attacks made me realize that no one is invincible and that I need to change the way I choose to live.

"I realize that everything we do involves risk taking. Those who worked in the World Trade Center never thought that going to work that day would be a risk. I decided that since tragedy can strike at any time, I am going to avoid unnecessary risk taking. True, I can't avoid going to work or school. But I have decided never to get into a car with someone who's been drinking. In the past, I would rationalize that they hadn't had much to drink. Now I realize that life can be taken at any time, and I'm going to avoid putting myself at obvious risk."

'I AM ... GIVING MORE COMPLETELY OF MYSELF'

JANE M. FRUTCHEY, 39, OF FINKSBURG

"The greatest change I have experienced since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon is that I am no longer stuck, stuck in my own complacency and do-nothingness.

"I am drawn out of myself now, like never before. I am living more mindfully and giving more completely of myself. I have been awakened from self-centeredness and a bogus sense of safety to take action daily. By performing small acts of kindness and living more respectfully of others, I have increased my own joy and emotional well-being.

"Each day, I try to do one or more kind gestures that brighten the day of another, whether family member or stranger. I'm taking the time to notice how some seemingly insignificant gesture on my behalf makes another's day just a little better. The gesture could be something as simple as serving lasagna and cheesecake, my family's favorite meal and dessert; baking a fresh batch of apple-cinnamon muffins for a neighbor; joining my 4-year-old daughter for an in-depth look at the path of a ladybug walking across the bedroom windowsill and then stopping to primp its minuscule antennae...

"Giving of myself has now become a priority, because I see how it improves the lives of others and brings poignancy to my own life. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, 'You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.'

"I, for one, am no longer putting kindness on hold."

'I AM NOT GOING TO FLY'

SARA BOWMAN, 18, OF COLUMBIA

"I recently took my boyfriend to the airport to see him off. There were hundreds of people there, waiting in line to check in. I knew that the airports have taken extra measures of security because I could not even go past security with him. But my first thought when we walked into the airport was, 'How can these people get on a plane now, after all that has just happened?'

"I was not happy about my boyfriend getting on a plane, and I am not going to fly anywhere anytime soon. And that really made me stop and think. The terrorists have achieved their goal: to scare us out of our minds. President Bush has told America to go on with our lives. Fly in planes, go to work, and go on as if terrorists never attacked us. I know that I will never be able to do that, and I know that many others won't either."

'WE HAVEN'T FOUGHT'

KELLY KIRWAN, 18, OF ELLICOTT CITY

"My brother and I had been in a fight over the weekend, and when all of the news went down about terrorism in America, I called my brother right away to tell him that I loved him. We haven't fought at all since then."

'IT'S MADE ME VERY PARANOID'

KIM PICCIRILLI, 17, OF BALTIMORE

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