Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Remembering 911

Posted September 11, 2006

I remember feeling rather smug having just written a 30 second promotions tease for the Noon News on WRAL TV five years ago this morning. Then I looked up at the monitor near Mark Roberts' Traffic Center and saw a live shot of a smoking building. My first thought was that a small plane must have become lost and struck a skyscraper. At first, I was slightly irritated that I would have to re-do my neatly written report to include the breaking news. Soon after all the facts came out I would feel incredible guilt for my grumpiness. How could I begin to feel anything but deep sadness and compassion for the thousands of people who would die that day? History began flashing in my head. First, I thought of my parents' assessment of Pearl Harbor, how horrible that attack was and how it plunged the US into World War II. I thought of JFK's assassination and the autumn afternoon I learned about it on a school basketball court in Morganton. I thought of the horrible day of Dr. Martin Luther King's death. The Beirut bombing in the 80's flashed through my head and I felt deep sadness for the Camp Lejeune Marines who died there. And the Oklahoma City bombing reared its ugly head in my psyche. How could so many terrible things happen to so many wonderful and decent people? It is always a question that I ask and struggle with in times of historic grief. I never really get an answer that seems complete. But I am always comforted by this: the incredible examples of herorism, compassion and sense of community that rise from the ashes of national tragedy. Yes, I do believe in God and I believe these troubled times are when we see God most clearly in the acts of human kindness, generosity and resilency. Today I will revisit my sadness, anger and grief that grew out of 911. I think it is important to do that. But I will linger longer with the incredible sense of love and pride I felt for my fellow American heroes during the days of recovery and healing. Please share your thoughts on this somber anniversary.

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Bill Leslie