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.
Jill Womack, 40, has quite an eclectic background: She’s taught in London, studied in Oxford and lived in eight states with some thirty moves. She was born in Opelika, Alabama, but as a “government brat,” was bounced around a lot. Today she calls Columbia, Missouri, her home, where she works as an artistic director and education outreach coordinator for TRYPS, a professional children’s theatre company. Films, teaching, painting and theatre fuel her fire – and she simply doesn’t have time for marriage or kids. She also recently began flying lessons (“An odd time to have started learning,” she says. “Had my first three hours in by Sept. 11.”). Jill says she’s a free spirit and doesn’t subscribe to any religious denomination.
On Sept. 11, she was at her parents’ house. As she describes, “I turned on Today to catch up on news over a quick cup of coffee before work and saw the first tower in flames. I called upstairs for my dad to turn on the TV in his room. We both watched the second plane hit in separate parts of the house.” The following is from a letter she sent to a friend Sept. 21.
The only solace I can find in the aftermath of September 11’s horror is this…
If all those killed on Tuesday, September 11, were part of a greater plan to create peace,
If their deaths and their sacrifices were the impetus to move the world’s nations, peoples, religions, races, and genders closer together,
If those lives unite us in a common purpose of peace,
If all those lives were lost to heal the living,
If all the present sorrow, grief, and anger, can be channeled into a future in which everyone – beyond borders, politics, and theologies – can live in peace, pray to whatever God they believe, have freedom from hunger, fear, and the right to grow in thought and spirit,
Then this terrible price will have some meaning, purpose and consolation.
Anything less is unbearable.
I pray for all of us to find the courage to take part in this great change,
to show the kind of courage we saw from ordinary people placed under extraordinary circumstances who chose to act for a fellow human being
and the greater good of humanity and civilization.