A friend of my father’s, a very successful business woman in her forties, joined the Peace Corps. She is now serving on an island in Micronesia. She left the following letter at the American embassy yesterday:
- September 11, 2003
I was affected by the events of September 11, 2001, not because I was on the 72nd floor of the World Trade’s South Tower. Nor because I had a brother, assigned to the firefighter, who tried to reach the burning floors above him before the tower collapsed. Nor because I had a dear friend on the flight that crashed in the green fields of Pennsylvania. Nor was I affected because a follow soldier died while standing guard at the Pentagon. The impact of September 11, 2001 did not touch my life in this way.
September 11, 2001, on a day beneath clear blue skies, I knew my life would never be the same. I did not know how it would change, or understand why it would change or when it would change, but I knew that who I was, what I did and what I believed was lost to a time we now call “before September 11th.”
I hiked through the woods that afternoon under a sky without jet trails. I was angry and full of hate. Hate directed specifically at one and targeted at others of a religion that shared many common beliefs as mine. I never felt like that before. I was alone, disconnected from the rest of the world. There was not a single soul in the world who knew where I was. There was no one looking for me on that chaotic day. My world changed and so did I.
I am an American from a place that is hated and loved. A land often despised yet, desired. A nation often self-serving yet, generous. A people judged but often misunderstood. I will not apologize for being an American, for my country’s actions or for my beliefs and those things I value.
September 11, 2001 reconnected me with the rest of the world. I am here today, a member of the Peace Corps community because I am not ashamed of being an American. I will not cower when what I love is threatened. I will share what I believe is good about my home. I don’t think this was the intent of the cowards who attacked my country and made me stronger.