Editor’s Note: The letter 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.
Greenville, South Carolina
Pierre Beauparrain – a 26-year-old engineer and dedicated family man – was born in Oullins, France, and today lives in Greenville, South Carolina. He and his wife, Sylvie, have one son, Maxime, born August 2001. Beyond his family, Pierre is passionate about the arts. He is Catholic. On the morning of Sept. 11, Pierre was at home with his wife and son. He wrote his essay shortly after the terrorist attacks.
When I first received your e-mail asking me to write an essay on the Sept. 11th tragedy, I said to myself, “Nah!” Not only am I not a talkative person and not a good writer, but too many people are already debating this subject. But then I remembered my History classes in school and what I have learned from my grandparents on W.W. II: “Never Forget!”
Sometimes, you have to remember the Past to avoid making the same mistakes again, and last week’s event was probably one of those events you should not forget. I must admit, with the Media bludgeoning us with horrific videos of the planes crashing into the towers … I want to forget this event as quickly as I can.
I was home with what is now my family when all of this happened. My mother-in-law called us at 9:30am and told me with a grave voice: “Have you seen the news?” The day before Michelin just announced they were cutting jobs, so I thought maybe she was referring to this news. I wasn’t really convinced she was speaking about that, so I turned on the TV to be overwhelmed by the first pictures I saw: the first tower of the World Trade Center emerging from heavy smoke. She then said, “Terrorists just attacked NY and Washington …”
I couldn’t believe what she was telling me, and I immediately imagined troops of foe soldiers marching down the avenues of New York and Washington, D.C.!! And it was approximately at this moment that we saw the second plane hitting the second tower. Oh God! Poor people … Did they realize? I can just hear them screaming in my head before the spectacular loud boom.
At the time we were not sure if the regular pilots were still flying the planes, and I was horrified that the hijackers may have forced them to do this desperate maneuver … How awful would that be if one forced you to kill innocent people?! What if the pilots did not realize what was going on? Maybe they thought this was just a regular hijacking and they were just going to fly around for a little while … And then flying over the big city, what other options did they have? Crashing the planes into some smaller buildings? I think I would have probably chosen the highest tower also, hoping that nobody down below would get hurt.
Then pictures kept flowing in mass. The Pentagon in flames, a 360- degree view (!) of the crashes in Tower One and Tower Two (where did all those film crews come from? How can you film something like this?). President Bush making his speeches of revenge. The second tower finally giving in, then the other one, etc., and still no reason WHY.
We now know part of the Truth … well at least we think we know! Bin Laden is now the most hated man on Earth. And I am all the more worried by what will happen next. Is the US also going to massacre innocent people in Afghanistan? All the World Wars started like that: King Ferdinand was shot in a crowd of people in Bosnia, Hitler invaded Poland … Let’s hope that we still remember our Past and that our first troops, the Diplomats, are still here to protect the fragile equilibrium of the World.
I really don’t want to raise my child in Terror. I want the Best for him, and Fear is not something I want him to learn … too soon. For the time being, I am not going to be too concerned by what will be going on. After all, those “things” happen routinely in some countries and the war hasn’t spread out yet. We were and are still in shock – it has only been a week! – but they say “time is a healer” (Phil Collins), and now that we are better prepared, such tragedies will and shall not happen again. Lessons have been learned, again.
Take care all of you.