Editor’s Note: The essay below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.
The following is written by a 43-year-old airline pilot and veteran of the U.S. Air Force, including nine active years on duty. He is married with four children. He sent his letter Sept. 26 and asked to remain anonymous.
I had gotten home late the previous night, so I got up in time to see my kids off to school. The TV was on, and one tower of the World Trade Center was burning. Then, the second airliner hit the other tower. My initial reaction was, “What is this violent movie that’s on so early on a school day, and how come I’ve never seen it before?” I quickly figured it was no movie, and that it was really happening as we watched it. As information became known, that terrorist suicide hijackers had seized the aircraft and deliberately flown them into their targets, the question that formed first in my mind was, “What are the long-range goals of those murderers?” What could they possibly hope to gain from the mass murder of 6,000 innocents, not to mention the loss of real estate and other property?
Hoping to bring down the American way of life? Instill an intense feeling of fear and hopelessness on us? Turn world opinion against the U.S? Maybe win us over to their way of thinking on some political issue? Bad news, bad guys: None of those was or is even a remote possibility. The nation is quite unified behind our leaders, whom the people expect to hunt down the masterminds of the atrocity. Then once the bad guys are identified, the bad guys will come to understand the stupidity of attacking this nation and murdering its citizens.
I see a great surge of genuine patriotism in the U.S., which is most gratifying. Conversely, I am sickened when I hear of the small faction of pseudo-intellectuals who say that a military response is the wrong move, that we should just talk out our problems. Perhaps in their little worlds devoid of anything of value, those wags not only have nothing worth fighting for, but are also totally unwilling to defend anything themselves.
Those murdering bastards snuffed out 6,000 innocent lives, and so there is nothing left to discuss or negotiate. Osama bin Laden won’t be able to buy his way out of this one. Although it may not happen in the first or second strikes, I am sure he will eventually get the full measure of justice as served up by the U.S.