Reflections on a Year's Journey
Readers, from a Shakespearean actor to a Muslim American, describe how life is different for them since Sept. 11.
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On Sept. 1, 2001, I was happily cruising along in life. Dec. 31 would be my last day practicing medicine after 33 years.
In September 2002, my high school in the Philippines would be celebrating its centennial, and I had planned on going to see old friends after 48 years.
Then Sept. 11 came. I still bade farewell to my patients in December, our hearts weighed down in a way that reminded me of John Donne's preaching that no man is an island. The plan to visit my native country vanished like a wisp of smoke.
Here in America, I felt pangs of insecurity for the first time since arriving in 1964. Watching those towering infernos at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon brought back memories of World War II when, growing up in a small town in the Philippines, I first experienced the devastation of my country.
Now I feel better, still anxious but more cognizant of the things that matter most in life family values, love, friendship, and an abiding trust that our leaders will make our nation more secure. America, my adopted country, has become more meaningful to me than ever.
Remigio G. Lacsamana is a retired physician.
My boyfriend, Clark, was pounding on my door. "Turn on the television. The World Trade Center fell."
I stared at him. What kind of joke was this, I remember wondering.
A few weeks later, Clark said he wanted to join the armed forces, but he thought he was too old. I told him to find out. I think I nagged him about it.
He lost 60 pounds and scraped in just before his 35th birthday. Now he's in Navy boot camp. I have become the woman who sits at home and frets. I can't help thinking, as the war rhetoric goes on and on: Am I going to be getting a telegram in six months, or a year, or two? I encouraged him to try for the Navy. I supported him when he did. He's doing the right thing. I have to keep telling myself that for the next six years.
Jamie Proctor is a freelance writer.
Rouses Point, N.Y.
As an eighth-grade English teacher, I have always felt a tingle of anticipation each September.
At 8:20 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, my biggest problems were learning students' names, setting the tone for a "bully-free" classroom, and making sure no one knew it was my birthday. This year, I find myself with an all-too-real example of the effects of bullying and intolerance. I doubt anyone at school will be thinking about my birthday.
My students and I will discuss Afghanistan a country last year's students and I couldn't find on a map or spell and how to stop terrorism, beginning with our school corridors.
Karen Bouvier teaches at Northeastern Clinton Central School.
In the past year, I have learned to press 120 pounds with my legs and 70 with my arms. The images of women fleeing the World Trade Center on 9/11 left a bold impression. Those who were fit got out faster.
Before the attack, I knew I wasn't as strong as I used to be. I didn't mind. I could still play an easy game of tennis and jog a slow mile in the park. But as scenarios of terror ran through my mind, I didn't think I could survive shimmying down a rope from my fourth-story office, or fleeing Manhattan by bicycle.