DEAR HARRIETTE: Thank you for your thoughtful message about 9/11, calling for harmony, peace and justice that is inclusive for all.
It brought strong feelings about that horrific event. I had lived in New Jersey for 30 years and was visiting friends there that week in 2001. The morning of 9/11, I drove down the Garden State Parkway to the home of longtime friends Doris and John, who lived in Middletown near the Jersey shore. I was oblivious to what was happening until I walked into their house and saw on their TV that the Twin Towers were on fire and heard the report that two different planes had crashed into the buildings. Obviously, it was a terror attack on the U.S.
I have just now finished talking on the phone with Doris, now age 96, about that day and our time together with her husband and another longtime friend, Ann, who had come from California to have a weekend together at the shore in Stone Harbor, near the tip of New Jersey. We recalled how stunned we were as we continued to watch the unfolding events in NYC, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on TV and how eerie it felt when we were in Stone Harbor to look north over the water toward New York and not see any planes in the air. When I flew home from Newark Airport to Tennessee the following Wednesday, there were armed police in the terminal and not many travelers. There were only 16 other passengers on the large jet with me. I was on the left side of the plane, so I got a brief view of downtown Manhattan and what was left of the Twin Towers as we took off from Newark. It was shocking to see the change in the skyline.
As you so aptly put it, the “pain of loss remains alive within us” not only because of all the lives that were lost and the suffering of families and of first responders who did so much to help, but because “the world as we knew it changed.”
Thank you, Harriette, for your Sense & Sensitivity column, which I read every day. You always provide practical advice in response to your readers that shows them how to stand up for themselves and also be respectful of others. Good job! -- Remembrance
DEAR REMEMBRANCE: I appreciate your letter along with others who have shared their memories of 9/11. I want to encourage all of us to think about how we live and what we can do as individuals to make our world a safer place. Sometimes when I talk to people, they feel like it’s not possible for one individual to make a difference. I challenge that notion. I believe that the way that we live our lives and how we treat others, especially during times of stress, can make all the difference in how people feel about each other and humanity.
Call me naive, but I firmly believe that if other people think that we value them and their needs and desires as we also value our own, we can create more unity in the world. I love and treasure our country, and I also value people from other parts of the world. I have traveled a lot and seen the struggles and triumphs that others experience. Seeing the ways in which others live has opened my eyes and helped me recognize how much privilege we enjoy in this country. I’m hoping that we all can open our eyes and see each other in our own country and from afar with greater compassion. Perhaps this is one way we can make our world safer and happier.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)