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IS ANYTHING THE SAME? That's what one of you, a former New Yorker, wondered as she planned her trip to Ground Zero this month. The same could be asked of our country and, perhaps, our world. A year later, many of you say you remain more patient and tolerant, more thankful and aware. But you're also more afraid and skeptical. And others are asking, Has anything really changed?

Comments collected from Seattle Times readers and
compiled by Kennan Knudson and Patti Jones
Sept. 11, 2001

When American Airlines Flight 77 smashed into the Pentagon, 184 airplane passengers and military and civilian workers perished, along with five hijackers.


I BELIEVE we've had plenty of moments of silence, plenty of renditions of "Amazing Grace" and taps, and I believe that the victims' families have received plenty of money. It seems to me that the first anniversary celebrations will be nothing more than a contest to see who can be the most outrageous and extravagant.

It was a shock, it was horrific, and I know the families grieve as do all families of crime victims. But it's time to move on, not to rehash and get worked up over the past. If we fail to move on, then al-Qaida will have won.

Alan S. MacArthur, Renton

MY THOUGHTS: I still feel great sorrow. The world as I know it changed forever on that day.

My fears: The hatred in this world. If we could all individually break down those barriers and forgive, as difficult as it may be.

My resolutions: Kindness, and tolerance! I go a lot further to look in a stranger's eyes, and smile. I listen more then judge. I have always done volunteer work, but now I stretch my time further to reach out. We have to start within ourselves, like a seedling, and grow.

Deborah Marlott, Seattle

9/11 MADE ME sympathize even more with those living in the Middle East and what they have endured on a daily basis for years. Analogies made between the recent attack to the U.S. and the constant Middle Eastern attacks seemed, somehow, greatly imbalanced.

9/11 made our children realize that to be an American today is perceived very differently than their ancestors. Terrorism is a universal concept. And the world is rapidly becoming a complicated place.

Marlene Souriano-Vinikoor, Seattle

I AM NOT ONE to look back and whine. I am one who moves on. Nonetheless, I believe that before I move on, the culprit must pay the price.

I am an immigrant/naturalized citizen myself, but I make sure I obey the law. The U.S. of A. has been the epitome of what a great nation should be, and I will not let anybody do harm to her. We may cross the line in political correctness, but we have to eradicate the culprits. Let us put them all in a place where no more harm can be done to innocent lives.

Jennifer V. Reyes, Tacoma

TRAGEDY CAN SHOCK US so profoundly that we are forced to confront our reason for being here. Once we crawl out of that deep, dark place of grief and sorrow, we have the opportunity to use the darkness to discover the stark contrast of light, love and hope in our lives. Rumi, a Persian saint, wrote, "The falls of our life provide us with the energy to propel ourselves to a higher level."

Let us use the anniversary of Sept. 11 not only as an homage to lost lives and heroic acts, but also as a time to focus on our own true purpose in this life. Every day, not just this day, we have a choice in how we want to live our lives.

Kim Hargrave, Burien

I HAVE FOUND IT extremely important to keep life in perspective. Make sure people know I love them and value their presence in my life. Make sure to focus on enjoying all that the universe has to offer. I know for certain that when I die, it won't matter that I finished painting the kitchen or that the carpet has been cleaned. It will matter that I went to the zoo and reveled in a sunset and then a shooting star.

We shouldn't need such a tragedy to help us recognize what is truly important.

Other than that, I would like to be in another country on Sept. 11, 2002, as well as the days immediately preceding and following. The press needs to find a new feeding frenzy to focus on — like why did the "powers that be" who saw this coming not do anything about it!! Enough already.

Patt Ayers, Mountlake Terrace


I WILL FOREVER have the picture in my mind of two people, hand in hand, falling down from one of the towers. It was incomprehensible to look at something like that and know the consequences. I don't think I would have had the courage to do that. They were very brave souls. Tears come to my eyes, and I hurt inside, whenever I think about it. May God have mercy on their souls.

Lois I. Peters, Kent


SEPT. 11 WILL NOT be real for me until I visit Ground Zero this September. I'll pay my respects, read the memorials, as many as possible, and spend hours in disbelief gazing at the empty hole. I'll try desperately to visualize two towers that reigned over the city, and all the good folks who lost their lives. I'll then walk to the cemetery at Trinity Church, where 35 years ago I'd find respite from the Wall Street bustle during lunch hour. I wonder if anything's the same?

Suzanne G. Beyer, Bothell
Audio linkSuzanne reads from an essay about her trip and about healing [1:30; 349K]

LIFE HAS pretty much returned to normal since that fateful day. The unity we shared as a country immediately after the terror has been forgotten. As a country we need to go back to that time where we all looked out for each other and had a common goal: Osama bin Laden.

Rebecca Sobus, Federal Way

SEPT. 11 WAS a reminder that life is fragile and that you have to stop and enjoy it. A reminder that you can't let your fears hold you back from doing things. A reminder that your faith will sustain you — even through the most tragic events and the darkest of times. A reminder that you should always let your friends and family know how much you love and appreciate them. A reminder of what the priorities in your life should be. A reminder that, even with all our differences, we are indeed one nation standing together.

Shirl Ganir, Seattle

THIS SEPT. 11, I will try not to be overwhelmed by the overblown retrospectives that will be on TV and the, no doubt, massive analyses that will be in the newspapers. After last Sept. 11, I couldn't read anything but newspapers for about a month. This time around I will find a good science-fiction novel and zone out.

Thornton Kimes, Seattle


The Anderson's grandchild

ON SEPT. 11, 2001, our second grandchild was born. At 2:38 a.m., he came into the world, and I even cut the umbilical cord. Then I saw the horrid pictures of the towers collapsing, knowing that hundreds, if not thousands, of lives were lost.

That is quite a thing to go through: watching someone come into the world, and just hours later, see thousands of people die right on television.

This Sept. 11, our grandson turns 1 on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil. When he gets older, when he can start to understand, we'll have to explain why everyone is so solemn and sad on his birthday. But he lives in the greatest nation in the world, and has lots of people helping him and his sister. God bless America, and our allies!

Kelly K. Anderson, Renton

I HAVE NOT SEEN such devotion to the flag and what it represents in my lifetime, even at the height of our country's turmoil in the '60s and '70s. And, this is what both confuses and perplexes me: What exactly are we currently saying when we display the flag, wear clothes emblazoned with it, place flag decals on our vehicles and in our windows?

For the past six months I've hosted a group that meets weekly, called a Conversation Café, at the Blue Willow Teahouse on Capitol Hill. We spent two sessions talking about the meaning of patriotism and the definition of a patriot: There was agreement that these times call for more such discussion — conversations now largely absent across America.

Flag-themed clothing, disposable diapers, shoes, towels and doormats seem more about merchandising than unifying a nation, more about displays of loyalty and stifling loyal dissent. Our president is unwittingly the poster child for a Madison Avenue capitalism gone wild when in time of war he urges us to consume, rather than conserve. I doubt that there's ever been another leader in world history to summon his people in time of war to act as if it is business as usual.

As we approach the first anniversary of 9/11 we have some soul searching to do as a people — to ennoble our flag and patriotism with meanings worthy of our time and energies.

Larry Gaffin, Seattle

ONE OF THE BEST legacies that came out of this tragedy was the rebirth of patriotism in our country. You can see this when you look at the number of homes, businesses, vehicles and even people who proudly display our flag every day.

Hopefully we will never have to relive our past, but if that day should ever happen, the world is on notice that they can bend the American spirit, but never break it.

Arthur Kuniyuki, Seattle
Audio linkArthur talks about the disbelief, and the spirit [:38; 152K]


Sept. 11, 2001

About one in five Americans polled in August said they so fear attack that they avoid large gatherings, steer clear of national landmarks or look with suspicion upon people of Arab descent.
~ Princeton Survey Research Associates for Knight Ridder
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