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.
Wanda Jeanne McKnight is a wise, beautiful and loving grandma who simply glows. Jeanne, 80, grew up in the small town of New Castle, Indiana, and today lives in Anderson, Indiana. For 58 years, she’s been dedicated to her husband, Paul, a master gardener and handyman. They have one son, Mike, and a daughter, Michelle Lee, who died at home at the age of 17. Jeanne’s passions include cats, working crossword puzzles and spending time with her family and friends. She’s an incredible cook, and although most wouldn’t know it, she’s also a great artist. Jeanne was at home on the morning of Sept. 11. She compiled her thoughts from Sept. 23 to 30.
Words don’t come tumbling out of me like they do my granddaughter Jenna. I think she is a born journalist. Her letter asking me to put down our thoughts about the tragedy that struck America Sept. 11th was compelling and straight from her heart. So I have decided to try and put into words my own thoughts and feelings of how the world – the world as my family and friends viewed it – changed on that day.
We will never again have the feeling of security we had before this terrible tragedy took place. We are so vulnerable – with our open society and open borders, making it so easy for terrorists to penetrate our country and live among us. We will never know where they will strike next. It was enough of a worry just wondering what a disgruntled American might do at any time. The Oklahoma bombing showed us that.
I’ve always felt I lived in the best place on earth and I still do, although it will never be the same. I feel for my grandchildren, wondering what kind of world they face. They need to go about their everyday business as usual, but I know it is hard for them. Watching television makes me realize what a horrendous condition the whole world is in. I only hope our government leads us down the right path. It will be so difficult to fight an enemy that has no boundaries. But I have a lot of faith in our leaders. They are doing everything in their power to sort things out instead of immediately jumping into a full-scale war. I only hope and pray they are able to save the world.