The Dive

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The Dive
By Orato Editor Heather Wallace
On September 11, 2001, the world changed forever when America suffered the most catastrophic terrorist attack in its history. Two commercial airplanes crashed into the World Trade Centers that morning, not only killing thousands, but also leaving a deep scar on the world psyche. Over the past five years, international tensions have continued to rise, and we feel no closer to a peaceful resolution of our global differences. Rather, it seems we may be on the brink of another disaster, and the peace movement remains practically underground and off the radar. It was a day, a week and a year we can't forget. In remembering what we lost, can we salvage a sense of humanity in time to prevent another grand tragedy? Moments of silence are not only to remember the fallen, but also give us a chance to change our direction.

My alarm went off at 7 a.m. The first words I heard over the radio were, “Two planes have crashed into the World Trade Centers.” I jumped to my feet and turned on the T.V. in an attempt to bolster my understanding of an indecipherable tragedy. I was not prepared for what I saw. It took me a moment to realize it was not a movie on the screen. "Oh my god. Oh my god." It was all I could say. I did not understand. I sat down on my bed, my knees bouncing up and down uncontrollably, tears spilling out and streaming down my face.

I rushed downstairs and found my roommates having breakfast, seemingly unaware of the goings on in our continent. I asked them if they had heard. Neither of them had seen the pictures, and one of them made some jokes. “But the pictures,” I said. “The pictures – They’re awful.”

It was a torturously long week, and with the rest of the world, I saw the images over and over again, playing out like a recurring nightmare. We glued our eyes to the television, trying to wrap our hearts and our minds around the reality. I had just started a new job the day before the attack, and on September 12, my boss brought in a newspaper. The still pictures were even more horrible than the television images. I remember snapshots of a man in a suit diving from one of the windows, headfirst to his death. His journey out of this world was frozen in my eyes.

Another picture showed a blonde woman holding up a ‘Missing’ sign and weeping for her lost fiancé. Her eyes seemed to be pleading for impossible compensation. When I saw her face, I stopped what I was doing and said, “Oh no.”

After work, I went to my room to be alone. One of my roommates came to my door and started to pick a fight with me about cleaning the bathroom. I told him his timing was poor and closed my door. He kicked it open into my face, and the artwork that had been hanging from my door flew across the room, splintering to pieces. We were left standing in my doorway, both of us staring at each other, breathing heavily and furious. I wanted to hit him and it looked as though he wanted to hit me. I yelled at him and he yelled at me. I told him he had a serious problem and he told me I had a serious problem. I told him I wanted to be left alone and he said I had no right to be left alone.

Later that night, still shaking from shot nerves, I told my other roommate what had happened with him. She hugged me and started to sing me a song she’d just written about fanatical radicals. I had no peace that night.

Early the next morning, on September 13, I walked to City Hall. The birds were the only souls there. I had taken some paints and brushes with me, and I proceeded to paint a large and colorful peace sign across the sidewalk. When I was done, I sat on a bench and wished the world could always be quiet.

When I got home, I found my songstress roommate sitting in the kitchen, singing her song about fanatical radicals. She stopped briefly to say, “It’s therapeutic.”

“I know,” I said, clutching the paintbrush in my hand.

The next weeks were more of the same. I received a letter from my father. He wrote, “Beneath, around, above – in the arms of everlasting love.”

I read a newspaper story about a man and his son in New York, just moments after the tragedy. They were sitting on the curb as plumes of smoke and ashes surrounded them, and the father was reading nursery rhymes to his distraught child. I broke down again and cried for that father and his son and thought how the boy would always love his father but may hate his world sometimes. Stories like this continued to flutter through our consciousness in the first weeks after what came to be known simply as 9/11.

Of course it was usually the topic du jour among friends in those times, as we all gathered close in candlelit bars and cafes, seeking refuge. I asked one friend how she was coping and she said, “I’ve cried alone. But this was important. It was supposed to happen. It was an act of nature as much as anything else.”

We turned to our philosophers. I remembered Aristotle had written that nature does nothing uselessly, so I hung on those words. We have been fighting since the dawn, so maybe it is our condition. But our world is getting old. We are waging war on a more sophisticated battleground. I began to question whether history is already written and we are mere witnesses to an end. Like a dying grandmother, we don’t want to see her go, but we suspect it must be so.


One day at the end of September, I was walking over a bridge on my way downtown. The sun was shining, the leaves were changing and the traffic was getting in my eyes. Noise was all around me, and there was dirt in my mouth. I could feel it gritting between my teeth. I reached the other side of the bridge and went into a church – not because I wanted to find religion, but to shut myself in somewhere quiet. I sat down and looked up at the stain glass windows. I wanted to cry, but I felt the dirt on my face and could not relax enough to let it go.

A woman came in and sat down behind me. She began to cry. I wondered if I should comfort her, but didn't. A janitor came close to where I was sitting and mopped the floor …wiping up our mess. On my way out I found a bathroom, and I went in and washed my face.

In those weeks, I supposed there were still some places in the world untouched by this event. I tried to take comfort in the fact that without man, the world would be quiet. But I could not accept that. I held out hope that the peacemakers would get through to Bush. But then the war drums started beating and it did not stop. It has not stopped.

I still think about the image of the man diving headfirst from the burning building. That poor man, who had no idea when he went to work that day that he would die a teacher.

Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Evil cannot drive out evil; only love can do that.”

We’ve had many teachers in this life. It seems we have not kept up our end of the bargain.


From a grass belly
squirming with life,
eternity universe
of not long surrounding.
You give us color,
we ask for air,
and soon we go down
in a pool of blind green yesterday


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Very poignant essay, but the writer & her friends still seem to

think al-Qaeda did it. Can someone ask them to watch “Loose Change”?

I didn't hear Heather say that...

She said her roommate was singing a song about "fanatical radicals".... and we here in America DO have our unfortunate share of those bent minds. Many of them Command our solders into misguided foreign adventure for treasure, manipulate our information here at home, blame "Others" for all our ills and still claim to serve the voice of God.

Our homegrown fanatical radicals gravitate towards spheres of influence, finagle our economy for self enrichment, and exert a far greater detriment with clear and present danger to ALL, much more than a Kaczynski, Mcveigh, or other bumbling 'tarristststs'. Our real terrorists rule from the top down, and threaten millions... if not billions. They need to be carved out from under our skin, hung out to dry, and crushed into oblivion... a recurring (everlasting?) task for vigilant free people upon our globe.

Erin, as far as McVeigh is

Erin, as far as McVeigh is concerned, spend a couple of hours with these links:

You said...

"It took me a moment to realize it was not a movie on the screen."

Heather, your first impression was correct. It was a movie. The death and destruction of the towers were real, but many of the "images" we were shown "over and over", were not.

learn more->

"On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr from his speech: "Remaining Awake" .

"Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority." Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

I think you summarize our current dilemna quite well in saying, "We are waging war on a more sophisticated battleground". Indeed we are.

I hope the information I offered above may guide you to a better understanding of the events of 9/11 and that, in time, you may find, if not peace, clarity.

You cartoon planers @ the WTC will try to stick your junk

anywhere, won't you!

Speaking of fake planes, what happened to the b.s. video that shows AA-77 striking the Pentagon? It was supposed to be released yesterday. I guess it's still not been doctored-up quite enough yet.

Dearest Non-Trolling Anonymous

what junk are you talking about?

The cartoon planes @ the WTC junk

(You may need to select the option that puts posts in the order they were answered in to follow the converstations better.)