September 11 arrives early in Korea
I said nothing yesterday, but today in the U.S. is 9/11. Let us remember those who died that day.
I've quoted from my 9/11 talk before, but now is a time appropriate for quoting from it again:
One year ago on a late Tuesday evening, I finished teaching my graduate conversation class, caught an Osan bus home, rocked my two-year-old son to sleep, turned on the television, and saw a huge passenger plane slam into the North Tower of the World Trade Center and explode into an enormous fireball. Within seconds, janitors and executives, secretaries and managers, waitresses and cooks, people who had been drinking a cup of coffee or chatting with a co-worker or mentally preparing for another work day, were leaping from the flames and plummeting, some hand in hand, for a thousand feet to the sidewalks and the streets and certain death. Then, a second plane, into the South Tower. Another horrendous fireball. More bodies falling in a gruesome rain. Then, the thundering collapse of those two massive skyscrapers. Finally, ashes and silence.
Only then did I go to rouse my wife, telling her, "Sun-Ae, wake up. Terrorists have destroyed the World Trade Center."
Instantly awake, she cried, "Oh no!"
We sat together in horror and darkness, watching the scenes repeated as Americans tried to comprehend the attack.
At Hanshin University the next morning, students looked at me oddly, but only one person came to express sorrow, a theology student who was heading to Germany for studies and who had previously asked me for advice about studying overseas.
Otherwise, no one . . . absolutely no one spoke to me. I felt rather alone.
In my next graduate conversation class, a day later, we talked about the attack. People had various perspectives. One person blamed American foreign policy. Another person said no, not that. Some worried about fundamentalism but didn't know much about Islam.
One kindly woman said that her husband had sat watching the news with an enormous smile on his face.
I never met that husband, but his phantom smile haunts my memory...