In 1978, while visiting my Grandpa in Union City, N.J., Grandpa took us on a subway to the World Trade Center terminal for a walking tour of downtown Manhattan and a trip to the top of the tallest building in the world, The World Trade Center. The top floor of the building open to the public was the 107th floor. That was where the restaurant was located. I don't remember for sure if the roof was the 110th floor, or on top of the 110th floor. The roof was closed that day due to high winds.
At the time, I suffered terribly from acrophobia. (A fear well managed these days but not gone.) My fear of heights was not at all eased by the fact that the building was swaying back and forth in the wind. I desperately wanted to lay on, or get as close to, the floor as I could to get that much closer to the ground. Apparently the most important part of this trip to the top was to look out the windows and down onto the miniature cars crawling on the streets below.
Everyone was ready to head back down, and I hadn't mustered the nerve to get up to the glass and look down. Grandpa waited with me, and held my hand as I slowly crept to the edge to look down. If I recall correctly, there was a several inch gap between the floor and the windows for the building frames where I eventually sat allowing my legs to dangle into that interior space.
It was a good feeling to ride down the elevator, feeling my ears pop, getting down onto the ground where we met up with the rest of the family and walked out onto the plaza and sidewalks of Manhattan. This is an experience I will never be able to have with my grandson.
I remember with absolute clarity the events of the day that World Trade Center was destroyed. It was the crowning achievement of those who would wage "holy war" upon us; whom they consider "the Great Satan." On the one-year anniversary, I was teaching a class of about 100 students. It was a difficult start to a long day for all of us. Now most of the shock and rage have dissipated. Time is a magical elixir, which seems to heal most, if not all, wounds.
Nine years later, the pastor of a church with less than 50 congregants has made international headlines because he plans to burn one or more Korans on Sept. 11. Why does this make the news?
What is it about this "event" that triggers a response from a top general, the U.S. State Department, and even the President. If I called every news outlet in the state to report that I was planning on burning a bible (not in response to the Koran burning) I seriously doubt that anyone would even report on it.
Does this make news because it is offensive to Muslims? Why should anyone care? There seems to be only minimal concern about the beliefs and feelings of Jews and Christians. After all, when someone defiles the things we hold dear, aren't we supposed to celebrate their right to do so in a free country?
Isn't it interesting that those who would be our leaders keep warning us offending Muslims may provoke violence and terrorism? What should we take from these warnings? Does might make right? Don't offend a bully? If you want your symbols to be protected (Christian or patriotic) should you riot or kill those who would defile them? Perhaps Christian, Jewish, or American leaders should publicly call for the deaths of those who attack these symbols?
The World Trade Center was a symbol. It represented the economic power of the United States and the opportunities available to the common man in western culture. The 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11 were somewhere between a bonus and collateral damage. There are nearly double that many people on an aircraft carrier or virtually any military base. On Sept. 11, our enemies attacked the SYMBOLS of American power; the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
So this year, on Sept. 11, one person in Florida may attack a Muslim symbol. The only collateral damage likely would be burn marks on the ground. What are your thoughts?