Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.
September 11 happened while I was living and working in Saudi Arabia. It was toward the end of our workday when an American radiologist came in to tell us of the "accident" at the World Trade Center.
He had been on the phone with a broker in the WTC building when the first plane hit. As we stood there wondering how a plane could have hit the WTC, someone else came in to tell us that another plane hit.
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Then we all knew it wasn't an accident. We heard sporadic yelling in the streets and happy shouts from Saudis in our own hospital. In the terminal cancer ward, patients were hooting and screaming "Down with USA," much to the horror of the American nurses tending them.
I went from feeling safe to feeling unsafe. My emotions were anger, fright, anxiety, disgust; you name it. I couldn't believe it. On the way home, my husband said the Japanese did it because of the Pearl Harbor movie. I just stared at him.
Even though I did not understand who could have done something like this, I worried about terrorism on our own soil. I wanted to know who had done it. When reports came in that Muslims had done it, I was floored. Peaceful, inviting Islam?
My feelings about my adopted country immediately changed from welcoming and warm to anger and distrust. I wanted to leave and go home, where I would feel more protected. But I could not. I was married to a Saudi and he didn't want to live in the U.S. This act of terror crushed our marriage. He did not think it was a good thing, but he didn't say it was a bad thing, either. His family was happy about the catastrophe, but tried not to show it when I was around. I felt surrounded by terrorists and just wanted to get out.
Within two years, I was back on U.S. soil and divorced. I still couldn't believe that a religion that claims it is peace-loving could do so much destruction. That single day changed my views of religions from be whatever you want to be, to never be a Muslim.
Even though I've mellowed somewhat since then, and have many Arab friends, I still wonder, did they clap and yell in happiness at the downfall of WTC, or were they sorrowful and sad that such a thing happened? I still distrust, but I do not hate Islam. I resent the people who twist it to their own ends and make others pay the price. None of us will ever have that protected feeling again because it was lost in the fire and ash of the WTC tragedy.