It is a week of incomprehension. To say that there are no words to describe the tragedy our nation is facing is an understatement: It is beyond words, beyond thoughts, even beyond the darkest of nightmares. As I watched the definition of reality on Tuesday, September.. 11, shift to a new horrifying extreme, I discovered what it is to look on the face of death and to see evil.
The planes that smashed against and into the steel towers we knew as the World Trade Center have stripped us of so many things.
To my fellow students of Western Illinois University and those around the country, I know your pain. I may not know how you feel, whether it is anger, ache, disbelief or numbness, but I know how deeply it stings inside to see things we have taken for granted shattered before our eyes.
To those who are forced to push their mourning aside and continue on each day, in Congress, the armed forces, and at the workplace: Thank you for letting 50 white stars and 13 stripes rise above all else and show that we are the United States of America. You show that, as a nation, we embrace in love, revel in victory, and we console, comfort, and bear together the scars of disaster and tragedy. And you show that together, nothing will make us give up.
To those that have lost loved ones and family: I am sorry. I am so sorry for whom you have lost. My heart holds grief for you. My face shows the tears of pain and agony that mirror your own. My thoughts and prayers will be ever with you.
Just as the choirs resonate our sentiments in song, our pastors and priests humbly ask God for peace and solace and all people who comprise this nation kneel before you in humble remembrance of those taken away, so I, too, wish you tranquility.
And, as I watched the smoke billow as two symbols of America fell to nothing and another lay in partial ruin, I could not even cry. It is a scope of destruction beyond my ability to grasp.
Only now, over a week later, can my heart accept what my eyes have seen. I had no idea how much it would affect me. And as our country, indeed, the World prepares for war, I wonder how much more pain the United States will feel.
Yet, even past the awful devastation, even past the pain and tears, even past all the deaths, a silver lining laces through all the murky gray: have I felt such a bond to my fellow Americans. Never before have I witnessed such kindness from all our people.
If tomorrow I meet a stranger in the street, I will endeavor to know him, not just another man or woman, but as a person and a friend. For it is what we must do to accept our fellow man. We must unite.
Years from now, when we look back on this, I hope we will say that this was not only the day the world shed tears, but the day that humankind learned to know one another. The day we learned to love.
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:4
Note from Marilyn Ferguson: My son wrote the above essay during his sophomore year in college.
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