Feeling 9/11 in Westlake
When the towers of the World Trade Center fell in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, they fell in Westlake. When the Pentagon burned in Washington, it burned in Westlake and when Flight 93 dove out of the sky into an open field in Shanksville, it crashed in Westlake, too.
My wife, Elaine, and I heard of a plane hitting a Trade Center Tower on our car radio just after we finished our walk at the Westlake Recreation Center, while driving to the temporary location of Porter Library. Driving home from there we heard of the second tower being hit and knew, as others did, we were being attacked. Soon after arriving home, and watching events on TV, we learned of the Pentagon crash and then, the missing flight boring into the ground in Pennsylvania.
As we worried about the people in the towers – at first believing they were hit by cargo planes (after all our security systems protected passenger planes, didn’t they?) we learned of the many people on board the hijacked planes and the horror increased. How many would die – maybe thousands? How many would be injured – maybe thousands more? Who did this to us? And yes, how soon can we get them to pay. It could not be soon enough.
Our feelings – shock, grief, depression and anger – here in Westlake were those of people in communities across our nation as we tried to cope with what was happening to us. It would take weeks, if not months, to fully realize what was done to our country that day. We were not safe but vulnerable not just to missiles, but also to any number of deadly devices conceived by fanatical groups. We were awakened to a new stealth war designed to hit quickly and hard to create terror among us – and so we live today.
Since that dreadful 9/11 day, our security systems have been upgraded, but not enough; the Taliban has been overthrown, but is still fighting; Osama bin Laden has been killed, but al Qaeda, severely damaged, lives on; Saddam has been hanged and Iraq freed; and monuments to the fallen completed or under construction.
And history may some day tell us that our actions in the Middle East led to the eventual fall of other dictators including Mubarak, Gadafi and maybe Assad. All of this has come at a great cost in American lives and money, nearly driving us into a financial crisis which has yet to be resolved.
Our lives go on in Westlake – a microcosm city of all American life now just as it was when founded 200 years ago. However our lives can really never be as they were before 9/11 – nor should they be. America in facing and meeting challenges of all magnitudes has always become stronger in doing so. We will this time, too.
May God bless all those who sacrificed so much for us in so many ways that disastrous day and ever since.
Mel Maurer lives in Westlake.