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When I was 13, I lived through the televised death of John Kennedy. Later, I lived through the atrocities of Vietnam, through Kent State, through mass murders and natural catastrophes. I've watched space shuttles explode on CNN and listened in horror as children killed other children in American schools. All of those appalling events of an imperfect world live with me, shaping the person I have become. But perhaps no other day in history has touched my heart in the same way as did yesterday.

Television stations in this country are calling it the "Attack on America," characterizing this senseless violence as a second Perl Harbor, as a declaration of war. Maybe they're right. Yet, what I've seen in the past twenty-four hours within these and my own forums convinces me they are, at best, only partially right. September 11 was an attack not against just America, but against the world.

If you don't believe me, ask Titia or Munda, writers from the Netherlands. Ask Melissa or Kit, from Canada, or Dee or Maree from Australia. Ask Kamla from New Zealand. Voices have been raised in England, in India, in Ireland, in Korea, and in dozens more nations across the planet. Our forums are international, and so too is the compassion and outrage expressed by our people.

I am both humbled and incredibly proud of the people whom comprise the Internet. They give me hope.


Scared, she tried to calm the tears
of her seven-year old daughter.

"It's going to be okay," she lied,
as the dark men,
armed with knives and cold eyes,
herded passengers to the rear
of the half-empty plane.
Furtively, afraid to draw attention,
she breathed into a small ear,
"Please don't cry."

Scared, he forced his eyes from
the window to the photo on his desk.

Across the way, the tower
that mirrored his own
was adrift in flames,
dark clouds of billowing smoke
all but obscuring the
approaching, well aimed, plane.
"It's coming," he whispered to
his wife's smiling picture.

Scared, she flipped the channel
to yet another chronicle of chaos.

Their apartment was so close
she imagined she could smell the smoke,
though perhaps it was just a reflection
of the stinging argument they had
while he was dressing for work.
His office phone went unanswered,
his cell number refused to connect,
and still she mouthed the words, "I'm sorry."

Scared, he bounded up another flight of stairs,
the plaster walls trembling in unison with his heart.

"Keep going!" he breathlessly yelled
to civilians he passed in the closed stairwell.
Some were covered with silt, some with blood,
all with the clinging, cloying sense of fear.
Twenty-three floors, and still he climbed,
checking for locked doors,
directing frightened people,
and praying, "Please, give us more time."

Scared, she ran through the crowded street,
panic pounding more loudly than the thunder at her back.

The tower was collapsing under its own weight,
its steel palms crushing those unable to run,
its billowing fingers of darkness relentlessly chasing
those still trying to escape.
Hot winds tickled her bare neck,
a silent voice urging her to greater speeds.
Fetid darkness blinded her, choked her,
as speed alone proved not enough.

Scared, I lay awake in a darkened room last night
and asked the inevitable, "Why?"

Those who died weren't soldiers.
They didn't shape foreign policies
or decide global economies.
They were just people.
Mothers and fathers, daughters and sons,
each now a victim of hatreds
beyond their responsibility,
beyond anyone's real understanding.

Scared, the world watched in horror, in pain,
and in ever growing rage.

Shoulder to shoulder, they stood together,
speaking in many languages,
in a single assenting voice.
"This cannot be," they whispered in awe.
Ignoring differences, forgetting distinctions,
they joined unlike hands and equal hearts.
And the whispers rose in crescendo:
"This cannot be ever again."

Ron Carnell

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