By Robert Ross
September 11, 2001 The wound, the pain, the coming ordeal



The Wound
Lying in bed Tuesday morning, September 11, was no different from many mornings. A stillness in the air ó a stillness in my thoughts. This morning a phone call broke the silence. A wake-up call, of sorts. An in-law from the east coast informed us that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. Airplanes crash, I thought. Nonetheless, I jumped out of bed to check the T.V. news.

Itís been a few weeks now. In many ways, I havenít stopped watching the T.V. news. Iím watching, trying to make sense out of this. Iím watching, looking for something, some bit of news that will jar me out of the dreamlike state that I seem to have entered. Iím watching . . . images that are horrific.

I donít know what Iím looking for, what Iím hoping for, but I canít stop watching.  At times, I turn the T.V. off, then itís back on again. I flip from one channel to another, only to see, over and over again,  the rubble that was once the World Trade Center. I stare at this open wound.  Iíve been through tragedies before, wars, the assassination of a president, hurricanes, airline disasters. But this . . . this is different.

The newscasters announce that the healing process has begun. But I know, that the healing process will be long in coming. This time, things are different . . .

The Pain
Weíre having a barbeque, weeks after the disaster.  Itís a beautiful afternoon, and Iím rambling away ó as usual. I mention something about the tragedy in New York and suddenly, I canít seem to finish the sentence. Words are stuck in my throat. My eyes tear up. I stop mid-sentence. I look down. I know . . . this time, itís different.

Flags line neighborhood streets, and calls for candlelight vigils are heard almost nightly. Rumors fly through the air like embers fleeing an open fire. One website states there are photos of Satanís face revealed in the smoke billowing from the doomed buildings. On another site, I read that Nostradamus, the 16th century French soothsayer, whoís credited by some with predicting Hitlerís ascent and the French Revolution, is now credited  with foreseeing the Trade Center attack.

Mayor Guiliani briefs the nation. The number of missing keeps growing, four thousand, five thousand, six thousand. Guiliani talks of baseball and encourages people to go about their daily activities, and yet I canít seem to wake up from this dream ó from this nightmare.

Initially, ďbombíem back to the stone ages!Ē was a mantra heard repeatedly on A.M. radio talk shows. Soon, scenes of aircraft carriers and maps of Afghanistan replace images of the commercial airliners crashing into the Trade Center building.

We frantically look to symbols ó flags, battleships and candlelight vigils, as salves to heal the wound and stop the pain. But this pain will not go away so easily. And this wound may never heal.  

The Coming Ordeal
ďThis was a wake up call from hell,Ē states Benjamin Netanyahu, Israelís former Prime Minister. Initially, we answered this call with saber rattling. As the enormity of our challenge becomes evident, our vocabulary quickly shifts and we hear of  ďa far-reaching campaign, unconventional warfare, long-term effort, a coalition of nations.Ē

War has been brought to our shores and we are preparing to respond. Our response will be like no other response in our history. It will be, according to the National Security Advisor, ďa war of will and mind.Ē It is clear that it will be long, difficult and require the greatest of resolve. It will be fought on many fronts ó     political, informational, financial, economic, and military.

In this war, it is doubtful that we will see victory parades and marching bands. It is doubtful that we will ever declare victory. It is a war that may never be over. In spite of that, it is a fight we must fight.

On Tuesday, September 11, life changed in America. We got a ďwake up call from hell.Ē In the coming months and years, we must have the resolve to descend into hellís chambers and answer that call.

Robert Ross can be reached by e-mail at  Copyright 2001 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved.

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