Letters To The Editor


Remembering Sept. 11

September 11, 2002

The Sun invited a variety of Marylanders to share their thoughts on the first anniversary of 9/11. Here are their responses.

Being on scene at Ground Zero changed a life

As a police officer, I was able to spend time in New York working at Ground Zero.

I tell people that to see the scene on television or in pictures doesn't compare to actually standing on the site. To see the destruction and realize you are standing in the middle of it was as indescribable then as it is one year later.

The emotion you felt was physically as well as emotionally draining. Yet when a stranger would walk up to you on the street after you had worked your shift and say, "Thanks for being here," it made the ordeal worth it.

The changes in my personal life and the changes in work are in some ways a complete 180-degree turn. At work, my job went from being an everyday police officer dealing with normal calls to being trained in antiterrorist tactics and in dealing with weapons of mass destruction.

Personally, I sometimes look at my family and say to myself, "I'm so thankful that I live in America." I am even more thankful after seeing the devastation up close and personal.

A year has passed and I can still remember standing in the middle of the rubble and looking at the devastation. The only thing I could compare it to is hearing my parents say that they remember where they were the day President Kennedy was killed. Or my grandparents say they knew where they were the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.

I will be able to say the same thing 20 years from now, and will be grateful I live in a land that allows me to do so.

Jack Hergenroeder


The writer is a sergeant in the Baltimore City Police Department.

Legacies of hope and individual value

Two legacies are on my mind.

First, although the rescue workers were not able to save large numbers of those trapped when the buildings burned and collapsed, their actions saved something that is essential to a nation's existence. By answering the call, going to the rescue, risking and giving their own lives in the line of duty, they preserved the nation's ability to hope.

Hope is based on promise, on oaths taken and kept. If the rescue workers had failed to come when the alarm sounded, our trust in each other as citizens would have been dealt a deathblow.

The same is true of each one of us who makes a promise: In honoring our oaths, even at great cost, we contribute to our nation's health and strength.

Second, in the rituals crafted to mourn the dead, mourners spontaneously strove to make their loved ones' faces known. Calculating the numbers missing and dead was not enough, even names were not enough. Those who came to memorialize loved ones held their beloved's pictures aloft for the world to see.

And in the aggregate, what a picture of America we saw. This public insistence on individuality gives us a chance to realize a new stage of our existence as a people.

In the tragedy of 2001, we learned that every person counts and each of us counts on every person. That "We the people" designates a body of irreplaceable persons.

May our conduct as a nation be worthy of these legacies.

Sister Mary Aquin O'Neill


The writer directs the Mount St. Agnes Theological Center for Women.

Cracking open our isolation

What's in any anniversary? What goes around comes around, but we in America used to feel that this adage mostly applied to others, not ourselves.

We've led the First World in progress, always building and climbing higher; before too long we'll touch the sky. We follow the path of time like an arrow, not a circle, and have believed we could and ought to always move on.

Unlike whatever them isn't us, we have for most of a century lost touch with the cycles of eternal return -- their fatalism and their promise of wholeness.

So today is no different from any other -- just one more step on the stairway to whatever heaven we imagine as our goal.

Today, like the day before yesterday and the day after tomorrow, we have the same choice: whether to learn to live unhoused from our towering isolation, or try to build it up again and crawl back into it.

Madison Smartt Bell


The writer is a novelist who teaches writing at Goucher College.

A day of fasting, grief and reflection

Today, on the first anniversary of Sept. 11, and for the next two days, many friends, (Muslims and non-Muslims) will be joining my wife and I in commemorating the deaths of all innocent victims of Sept. 11 by fasting from sunrise to sunset. For me, this will be a time for renewed grief, remembrance and contemplation about what happened, why it happened and also the aftermath of Sept. 11.

I will be fasting, and urge all Muslim-Americans to fast and to contemplate how and why such odious crimes were committed in the name of Islam, a peaceful religion.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.