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Feelings about 9/11 tough to put into words

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Anybody living and able to comprehend events had to have been profoundly affected by what occurred in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

Most of us know where we were or what we were doing when we heard about it; most of us, in today's mass-media dominated world, watched in horror the end result of the planes crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

We've watched over and over again the various news shows and documentaries about it, from ones that told us how it was possible the towers could collapse to ones that took us inside the firehouses of the companies that perished to the myriad of ones that showed us every conceivable angle the planes came from.

Ten years later we are asked to put on Facebook or write to newspapers or TV news forums about our feelings, about how that day changed our lives. You would think it would be easy for somebody like me who uses the written word to convey so much of his life, but I assure you it is not.

I can tell you I am more apprehensive today when I hear of terrorist plots involving New York City than I was even three years ago. That's because my son and daughter-in-law live there now and, while they live in Queens, travel almost daily into Manhattan. I have other friends or the children of friends who live there, as well.

Just Thursday night, when news of the latest terrorist plot came to light, I sent a text message to my son and implored him to stay off the trains and out of the subway on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the worst day in American history. I am quite certain I am not the only parent or loved one who did so.

I should not have been surprised my son responded with "Why is that?" He hadn't heard about the threat or, if he had, was in his normal skeptical way ready to ignore it. That's how he was with Hurricane Irene. I hope he takes this more seriously.

I wonder, though, if the younger generations take such things seriously enough. Those who are not old enough to remember 9/11 only know the stories; they cannot be expected to feel the crushing sensation older people did. Those my son's age were teen-agers at the time and were shocked, but considering how much other stuff they have seen through their lives because of mass media may not have felt the same personal threat their parents and grandparents did – and still do.

I wish I could put into words why we feel that way. Perhaps it's because the attacks 10 years ago made us feel more vulnerable. An older relative compared it to how people felt after Pearl Harbor was attacked. "But this was different," I remember him saying. "This was right here, close by. It brought the greatest city in the greatest country in the world to its knees."

It did; we recovered and many feel we are stronger for it. God I hope so. I hope we never have to find out.

Paul Gordon is editor of The Peorian. He can be reached at 692-7880 or at

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).