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Living under cloud of hope, despair

Chicago, Sept. 10 (Reuters): Some bought guns to feel safer, others cell phones to keep in touch. Life hasn’t really changed for many since September 11, but feelings certainly have.

Asked how the tragedies in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania have affected them in the year since, a random sample of Americans, some interviewed outside the Sears Tower, the tallest US office building, said this:

Less trust

“My life hasn’t changed that much because my business and my life are not affected by things like daily air travel. But I think every American was affected emotionally. There is so much anger because we were defiled, assaulted, invaded. I’m more cynical about people than I was before. I certainly trust less.” —

Donna Martinez, 50, Milwaukee, president of American Ornamental Iron Steel Co.

A fireman’s wife

“My husband is a firefighter (and) my brother, Greg Potter, is too. I guess until September 11th it never struck me so much how our husbands’ lives are on the line all the time. Oh sure, it scares me being a wife when he goes off to fight fires. But I feel they are very well trained ... my husband says that if we had the same situation they did at the World Trade Center, he would go right up those stairs the way they did in New York even knowing all the risks involved.” — Laura Marshall, 31, Cincinnati, insurance broker and wife of Fire Lt. Mark Marshall.

Grief avoided

“Mostly I think I’ve lost my optimism for the future. Having lived through Vietnam and the end of the Cold War, I really thought we were on the verge of a safer, more rational, more democratic world. I don’t think that since 9/11. I can see the rest of my life being lived under the siege of terrorism and under the cloud of the war on terrorism.

“How will I spend the anniversary' At the airports and on airplanes, working. And I have to admit it’s almost a reflex action. A whole year has gone by and I’m not sure I’ve really taken the time to grieve.

“I lost some friends in the Towers on 9/11 and knew one or two of the people in the flight crews who died on the four planes. It's almost as like I've spent the last year running and rushing and doing things just to avoid having to deal with the personal side of the tragedy.” —

Joe Brancatelli, on-line business travel columnist, Cold Spring, New York

A nation united

”People have become more united. You see a lot more flags. It’s sad that you don’t see them that much, unless a tragedy like that happens. Like Desert Storm — everybody had flags, and then they disappeared. I’m more aware of family. You want to spend time with your kids because you never know when something like that is going to happen. They could be gone in the blink of an eye.”

“(Tomorrow) My son is in a play at our church called Amerikids. It’s basically on God and our country, and why the pilgrims came over here originally, and why we’re free.” —

Crystal Scott, 25, stay-at-home mother, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

In touch

“In the past year we’ve got cell phones. Not specifically because of that, but because we realised that in an emergency we had a hard time getting hold of everyone. So cell phones have given us that ability. My daughter, she’s 7, she knows something happened. We never really discuss it until she starts asking questions. We don’t want to, I guess. With all the images that are going on on TV right now, I don’t know what the school is going to do ... It is difficult to know how old your child has to be before you can really discuss it.”

“My kids (tomorrow) are going to go to school, as normal. My husband is going to go to work. I am going to go to classes myself — probably try to stay as normal as possible, but also use cell phones, be connected.” —

Michelle Bucy, 34, Columbus, Ohio, a part-time student and stay-at-home mom

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