Sep 162001

Americans are not alone

Sept 11 2001 started a little differently for me than most business days. Usually I start by listening to TV, usually the History channel or TLC. But that morning I listened to CBC 95.1 FM. It was about 8:55 and the markets report was on. When they went to a local broker, he mentioned they were kind of busy watching the World Trade Center fire… I immediately turned off the radio and switched my PCTV Vision card to channel 33 (CNN). When I saw the flames and smoke coming from the north tower, I told the people in the IRC channels I was in. Everyone found it difficult to believe. A few minutes later, I saw a big explosion out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was something in the north tower. It took a while and a video reply to understand it was another plane hitting the south tower. Looking at the IRC logs, it was then that we started to speculate about suicide bombers.

I spent the next 18 hours watching the events unfold. The most shocking moment was when the first building collapsed. I didn’t believe it when people told me. I figured it was still there, just hidden behind the smoke. We all know that wasn’t the case. Disbelief was the flavour of the day.

Checking on coworkers

My first thoughts turned to my friend Dana who lives in New Jersey but works in NYC. I sent off an email to her. Thankfully I got a quick reply. A follow up email the next day confirmed she was still OK. Then I started to think about one of my coworkers located in New York City. I tried calling him, but didn’t get an answer. People in the California office weren’t up yet. Once they arrived online, we found out that three of our employees had been travelling out of town. By air. Later that day, we contacted them, stranded in an airport, but safe and well. Near the end of the day, we heard from the NYC guy. He was well and so was his family. They were about 2 or 3 miles from the WTC. The next day, Wednesday, it all seemed rather unreal. That evening, as I headed up into the Gatineau Hills for a bike ride, I drove along Sussex Drive. All along the front fence of the American Embassy were flowers. Already. It was a very touching sight.

Driving to New York

On Saturday, the plan was to ride with friends in the Gatineau again. Matt was getting married to Denise. That was to be his last ride as a single man. But I felt the need to drive down into NY state and drop off some flowers. I figured that made more sense than dropping them off at the Embassy. The plan was to locate a memorial or somewhere similar where the Americans were dropping off their flowers etc and add my contribution. In all the years I’d lived in Otttawa for about 10 years, I’d never been to the 1000 Islands area. So I chose to cross there at Gananoque. Mistake. Although what I saw of the area was very beautiful, It took me an hour to get through. From there, I figured I would head north east and cross back over at Prescott, on the way visiting Ogdensburg. I stopped for lunch at a small sub shop in Ogdensburg and told them about all the flowers in Ottawa and asked if they’d been doing anything simlar here. Sadly, they hadn’t been. So I decided to take the flowers back to Ottawa and add them to the collection there.

Personal consumer needs

The sole purpose of my trip was not the flowers. It was also self serving. I was planning to buy some new pieces for my Thule roof rack. The sub shop staff also told me about a bike shop in Canton, about 15 miles south east of Ogdensburg. They were willing to order the stuff we wanted and would email us when it’s ready. The plan is to drive back down there, do a ride, pick up our gear, and drive back to Ottawa. The shop is only about 80 minutes from my place. My consumer needs met, I drove back over the border. This time the checks were much more stringent than on the way over. I was impressed.

Walk past the Embassy

About 8pm that night, I went downtown and walked along the fence in front of the Embassy. Flowers, cards, poems, candles, teddy bears, and flags had been left by well wisher. I walked along to the north end of the fence and found three small stuffed toys. I unwrapped the red, white, and blue flowers I’d bought in Brockville and entwined the stems through the metal fence. All around me, people were moving slowly. Reading the notes left by those before them. I remember seeing a small and very tattered and torn American flag. I suspect it had been at someone’s house for years. They had left it on the fence. All round the city, I’ve seen cars with American flags in their rear window. Children had drawn pictures and written poems and left them behind. These are the very visible and public displays by people who have been greatly affected by the recent tragedies. This despite not being directly affected as have those who have lost loved ones. I walked along and read the notes left by people. Some were signed. Some were not. People were expressing their personal feelings. Time and time again, the notes mentioned that the USA was not alone.

But the one note which struck me the most was a single phrase on a white sheet of paper:

“We are all Americans now”

  19 Responses to “Americans are not alone”

  1. I truly hope that the tragedy in NYC will not be an excuse for war (though it probably will!).

    Respect the dead by advocating peace.

    • Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. America didn’t start this, but we will sure end it. And hopefully the world will be a better place.

    • The sure thing is that fighting fire with fire will definitely result in more tragedies and not only in the USA. Anyway, think about all the innocent people killed in the Vietnam war, in the Kosovo war, in the Gulf war, by the US army. I am near the Kosovo region (I am Greek) and let me tell you this war thing didn’t feel right at all. The US had to pay for its arrogance.

    • Even in 1973, a Canadian understood how worthy Americans are, and broadcasted his statement over the air, in Canada. I’m sick and tired of American’s being the constant targets for attacks. If somebody wants to fight, then declare war. If somebody wants to hijack plane(s) and destroy some of our valued buildings, their a faceless coward. I urge you to read, and soon to be mirrored on my website (no domain yet), and tell me if you think any of his opinions have changed in 28 years, besides the "current" problems in 1973.

      I was born in 1976, his broadcast was in 1973. ALL of my life, we’ve been the victims. I’m tired of it. We have the technology and money to severely damage a large part of other contries, yet we sit by and forgive country after country!

      "Please – peace" is quite the opposite from what I’m thinking. We need to show others our value. We need to show others our opinions. We need to show others our country. What do you think will happen if we "forgive" again? I sure you know.

    • > We need to show others our value

      So bombing some third world country into oblivion send a worthwhile message does it?

      I think not. It sends the same kind of message the school bully sends when he beats up some poor little kid that has absolutely no chance to defend themselves.

      Violence breeds hate, and hate breeds more violence. The attacks on America are one of the greatest obscenities ever seen on our televisions. But using them as an excuse to whip-up public support for a War is wrong. It escalates the cycle of violence, and shows the terrorists that, in the final analysis, there is very little difference between them and us.

      Vengance tempered by Justice, and a deep consideration for and innocents in the way, is the only way to deal with those behind the attacks on America.

      And if we want to stop anything like this happening again, let’s do something about reducing the amount of hate in this world. Rather than by increasing the body count.

    • Xaphod:

      No, you misunderstood my post —

      Our value, our worth — what we’ve given to other countries for nothing in exchange. Our value of technology, putting people on the moon and safely back home again. Our value. Our exports and imports to the nation. Our technology shared with the other nations. This is a very touchy subject; I can’t explain the way I see it very well, if at all.

      True, Violence breeds Hate, Hate breeds Violence. I don’t doubt that.

      I did *NOT* promote war. I think we need, however, a way to tell the nations without war, about what they’re doing to us, (attacking us), will not go without reaction. I sure hope that it is not war that shows this. I DO hope that it is through national support.

      I hope this clarified my post a bit.

    • Perhaps I did misunderstand your post. But you did seem to be advocating the opposite to peace i.e. war. Indeed, my first reaction to seeing the pictures of the terror attacks on Americas was

      "hope they nuke the f**kers".

      Perhaps it’s because I’m not American, and therefore I’m at least partially divorced from the events last week. But my views have changes somewhat.

      Yes, the fact that it looks likely that 5000 people died as a result of terrorism is an obscenity. But what about the 19000 children that die each day thanks to the cripiling $215 Billion debt the third world is labouring under. Is this not an obscenity too? Or just Economics?

      You wish to emphasise "Our value, our worth". The value of our technology, of putting people on the moon. Well, putting a man on the moon was indeed the greatest technological acheivment ever. But to what end? It cost $50 Billion, and we don’t go there any more.

      And what about Imports and Exports? It it helps boost our standard of living – we don’t do it out of altruism. I saw a picture a while back of a starving child playing with a toy truck he’d made. The wheels were made from Coke cans. This child barely get enough food to survive, but he could get a Coke-A-Cola.

      What use is our great technology to these people? Well, we’ve given them better ways to kill each other. But I’m sure they don’t have the internet, television, washing-machines, cars, and all the other "necessities" of life.

      Do really think that starving and downtrodden peoples in the world are really going to value us and our acheivments? Or do you think they are going to resent us? And resent our high standard of living?

      I live my life in my own little world. It’s a comfortable world. But I’m ashamed of it. I feel that once we have dealt with those behind the attacks on America we need to come together and address the real issues. To see to it that the whole world has the lifestyle and the technological benefits that I take for granted.

      And what a fitting memorial it would be who so tragically lost their lives last week.

    • Those responsible for the tradegy have to be brought to justice, period. Should we just sweep it under the carpet and not do anything? That’s just an open door for more terrorist attacks. Osama Bin Ladan was given 72 hours to turn himself over. What if he doesn’t? Well, maybe we should just say "OK" we tried, and pack-up our stuff and send our troops back to the USA. There are times when diplomacy ends.

    • Americans have only notions and NOT EVIDENCE about the guiltiness of Osama Bin Laden.This is the first thing. Second thing is the fact that all day long I see in the CNN channel "America’s war against terrorism". Well is it truly against terrorism or against Afghanistan? If a country wants to fight terrorism, it will fight internal terrorism, not declare war against other countries shouting out that this is war against terrorism. For example, in this way England could declare war to terrorism and start bombing France because England had notions (even evidence) that the terrorist who killed 5K people in London using a bunch of C4 explosives is French.

      • Panos wrote:
        > Americans have only notions and NOT EVIDENCE about the
        > guiltiness of Osama Bin Laden.

        Bin Laden has already been indicted twice in the World Court. For this he is a wanted man. For the WTC incident, the evidence is still being collected. What do you expect? It to be publicly displayed?

        > This is the first thing.

        It is nothing.

        > Second
        > thing is the fact that all day long I see in the CNN channel
        > "America’s war against terrorism". Well is it truly against
        > terrorism or against Afghanistan?

        Americans have nothing against Afghanistan in general. Specifically, they object to the harbouring of known and indicted criminals.

        > If a country wants to fight
        > terrorism, it will fight internal terrorism, not declare war
        > against other countries shouting out that this is war against
        > terrorism.

        Crap. Why only internal terrorism? Much terrorism is exported. Deal with the source, regardless of location.

        > For example, in this way England could declare war
        > to terrorism and start bombing France because England had
        > notions (even evidence) that the terrorist who killed 5K
        > people in London using a bunch of C4 explosives is
        > French.

        A poor analogy. Please get with the program or piss off. Nationality has nothing to do with this issue.

        Finally: Did you not read my notice. I’d rather you address my article than spout political propaganda. Withdraw or grow up.

    • TJ wrote:

      >If somebody wants to fight, then declare war.

      In case you didn’t know … The USA has bombed 18 countries since the WW2 and there was a formal declaration of war in only 5 cases (NOT in Vietnam war).

      >what we’ve given to other countries for nothing in exchange.

      Do you know that Americans, comprising some 4% of the world’s population, consume approximately 40% of its resource?

    • These terrorists will not stop if we forgive them. They will keep coming. A reponse of force is not to punish, but to deter them and others from doing it again. A lot of peace advocators forget that peace is anything but free and must be defended.

      This third-world country harboured the terrorists and worked very closely with them. They were given a chance to hand this guy over and refused. The responce is warranted.

      The US and NATO allies are the strongest and most advanced forces inthe world. If anoter party decides they want to attack any of us, we will respond and in a force that is decisive.

      I am just greatful that this thing has not resulted in any thermonuclear confrontation at this time — the world would surely change.

    • Alright, as a Canadian who was there, I’d like to put my two cents in. Sure it’s late, but at least it’s not never.

      First, terrorism is a world issue, there is not one nation, there is one planet, and we are all the same.

      Secondly, the issue isn’t as black and white as it seems, there is always atleast three sides to every issue, your’s, mine, their’s and the truth…..

      Thirdly, the only way to stop violence IS violence… Kill all humans and let the smart animals have the planet back.

      Flame me, hate me or agree with me. My opinion.


    • i am from europe. So i am not so emotionally envolved in this
      topic like americans are.

      TJ, you behave like a 16 years old boy. "He hit me, so i have
      the right to hit him". That is bullshit as your mother should
      have told you, but now it is to late i think.
      It is a general problem that americans are not able to think about
      problems from another point of view. You just see your thing.
      "They attacked the greatest nation of the world, the have to be
      You simply do not think about political and, much more important, economical depedencies. America is a baby-nation and
      a nation of babies, with no moral, no other values than money and
      personal profit. That is a a lot too general. I now that not all
      americans are like that (but 99,999999999%), so please do not
      bore me with comments about that (I do not want to talk about the
      picture that americans have from other countries. "Do you have
      telefones or cars or warm water???" Who doesnt know this narrow
      minded questions).

      But to get concret:
      "a Canadian understood how worthy americans are"
      That is a little simplified. Americans are not more worthy than
      any other nation. They have great influence because of military
      and economical power. That is a difference.

      "I’m sick and tired of american’s being the constant targets for attacks." Lets laugh. I am sick and tired of seeing America
      invading other countries and kicking human rights with feet.
      You have to think about why america is a "constant" target to
      terroris activity. I leave this as exercise for the reader 😉

      "ALL of my life, we’ve been the victims" Lets laugh and have a party. You are the victims. How sweet, come to me boy, I will dry
      your tears. Tell that to the people in Afghanistan. You are sitting in front of a Computer, drinking beer, eating chips.
      You are such a poor victim.

      "We have the technology and money to severely damage a large
      part of other contries, yet we sit by and forgive country after country!" That is what i am talking about. You just see your thing. Your opinion means: As long as i can drive my oversized
      car and can eat junkfood, it is ok if other people die in the
      third world.
      You do not see an very important thing. america will never live
      in peace, if there are still people dying from hunger. Think about
      that. Think about what it means to suffer hunger. Imagine it would
      be the other way around. Afghanistan would invade america and all americans would suffer hunger. Would you not do EVERYTHING that your children/parents/wife/sisters/… have something to eat.
      That is just a starting point. Try to imagine what you would do in their situation.

      "We need to show others our value" If you show your "value" with force against other countries, you dont have value to the world any longer.

      "We need to show others our opinion" You do that all the time.
      Before shouting out your opinion, try to listen to other opinions.
      The american opinion is not more important as the spanish/greek/
      afghanistan opinion.

      "We have the technology and money to severely damage a large
      part of other contries" If you have such great amounts of money
      an power, why dont you use it to help other people (i mean real
      help, not the american self-profit-"help"). If you would support a
      foreign country, no one from this country would even think about
      starting terrorim against america.

      And one last word to jimmi:
      "Thirdly, the only way to stop violence IS violence… Kill all humans and let the smart animals have the planet back."

      Think about blood-revenge: I kill your father, you kill me. My
      brother rapes your sister/mother. You kill him. My nephew kills
      your brother. You burn his house.
      This will go on for ever. From a global view it is the same with
      nations. Violence is not a solution. In europe we had CENRURIES
      of war. At last we saw that we would eradicate each other, if we
      could not find a solution that would enable us to live in peace.
      This is what the selfish and egomanic americans still have to
      learn. RESPECT is the fundament for peace. You dont have to agree
      with others, but respect their opinion and their rights.
      I could go on for hours, but i have to save my power for all
      the answers of angry nazi-americans i think.

      PS: TJ please dont bore us with another senseless webpage. There is really enough crap on the web.


  2. I’d rather you be commenting on the article I wrote rather than talking about what you’d like to see happen. Who is right or wrong is something I prefer not to be discussed here.

  3. I’ve got a few pictures of the US embassy in Ottawa. It was my first outing with my new digital camera so please excuse my weak photo skills.

    There are a few shots of the embassy, a couple of weak shots of flags at half-mast, and a shot of the flame from Parliament hill.

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    • I was there tonight. The flowers are all gone. I’m not sure on which day. An RCMP officer told me they were there on Monday. I’m guessing they were removed today or yesterday. It was two weeks yesterday.

      Inside one of the "huts", I could see what I thought were the gifts left behind: small stuffed toys, etc.

  4. I must admit, this kind of thing will still bring tears to my eyes. Even after the tragedy has occurred months ago, reading and writing about the tragedy will cause my tears to fall. I wrote an entry in my online diary which I will have to put a link up for people to read at some point. It has made others cry as this one article has.

    "We are all Americans now"

    A foreigner has said that and now I cry again, thanking them for their shoulder to cry.