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(2001 Thread) Plane just crashed into the world trade center - Page 6

post #151 of 331

As a native New Yorker, I feel your pain and fear. I have friends among the missing and dead. Eash night I look at a picture of the NY skyline above my bed, and I can still barely believe that what I look upon no longer exists. If other plans are in existence waiting to be carried out, I think each of us in a metropolitan area shares the same anxiety. In Tampa, where I live is MacDill AFB, strategic command for the mideast. New York and Washington made excellent targets for an initial strike. Both cities embody America. But these people want to see our entire nation fall.
post #152 of 331
Safety is a relative condition. You might get hit in a crosswalk, fall down a flight of stairs or suffer a heart attack. What I was attempting to point out to Vjoy is that those agencies charged with providing national security are now making maximum efforts to prevent further attacks by terrorists. That makes me feel safer, but obviously that feeling isn't shared by everyone.

post #153 of 331

It is just that everyone has different reactions to what has happened. Grief and shock are manifested in many ways. I live in NYC. So my feelings may be different that people who live elsewhere, or they may not. I know fear is widespread throughout the country.

I just don't handle stress well, can you tell? ...:paranoid2 :paranoid2 Groan...
post #154 of 331
Please try not to worry too much about biological and chemical attacks. The main damage these would do is create panic in the public. This is something that can be prevented if people are educated about the risks - which are not that high - and about protection.

I doubt that an anthrax attack on a major city will cause more than a few dozens of fatalities (if caught on time). There are excellent antibiotics to fight anthrax and given on time, most people will be saved. I am not taking this threat lightly - it will mean evacuating a large area for several decades, but it's not as if the whole of the US will be destroyed or anything remotely like it. Smallpox is more scary, but it's really easy to get vaccinated against it. I am and so are most people in Israel. I find it hard to think of any chemical or biological attack that would cause even half the damage as the recent attack on NY.

You know, during the gulf war, the scuds themselves caused one casualty. Yet, about 20 people were killed because they forgot to take the lid off the filter in their gas mask. They were suffocating and thought it must have been a chemical attack so they never took the mask off and died. That was sheer panic that killed them. Keep your heads cool and don't be too alarmed. These threats can be handled and there not half as bad as the media makes them to be.
post #155 of 331
Look folks, Fear, to paraphrase, is always more terrifying than confronting the real thing. Likelier than global warfare (the frontal kind) and bacteriological, gas, or nuclear attacks are a bunch of rocks from the asteroid belts doing enough damage to strip us of most of our atmosphere. Disaster scenarios are imagined and considered to prepare governments for contingency plans. In Israel we have lived with the worry about bacteriological, gas, and nuclear threats ever since the Gulf War annoyed Saddam Hussein sufficiently to do more than arm his warheads with them. Fortunately, all of these things gradually decay in storage, and the nuclear warheads, made by Iraqis, become unstable and are likelier to blow up in their warehouses.

Which doesn't mean at any moment we won't have a suicidal strike by a human carrier.

More likely one day I will get on a city bus and get blown to kingdom come. Or walk into a shopping mall, or just on the sidewalk where I am an easy target to someone with a kalashnikov driving by on the road.

We can all sit around and dwell on these if we want to go crazy -- and we can dwell on them if we want the damned terrorists to win.

But to what avail? Our lives are, as they always have been, in God's hands. We don't close the chapter of our present book of life. God oversees that. We make as much of our fate as human will allows us, and then we accept what we cannot control.

TRUTH -- The US government, like all governments worldwide, I should imagine, are busy culturing sufficient anthrax (not to mention a lot of other bacteriological pathogens) to create a new range of vaccines, antidotes and curative drugs. In Israel, of course, we have had our plans for such events well in hand for years, and since the Gulf War, we have renewed our gasmask kits every year at government stations around the country.

TRUTH -- You in America are safer than you ever have been collectively, because bin Laden's wakeup call has stirred a hornet's nest of a vast range of protective and highly aggressive organizations. If there had been sky marshalls on the highjacked planes, it is very sure that most or all of them would not have been hijacked, or at worst, not reached their destinations. If there had been proper doors on the cockpits and cameras in the body of the plane for the pilots to monitor, do one could have forced the flimsy doors airplanes have one them. The government is going to take care of both these problems. Security is being tightened, and the way every citizen can help is by demanding that the government (your tax dollars, I am afraid) be allocated for whatever security it takes, and not bump it off on the airlines, who are not financially able to take up the bill. American Airlines didn't install on domestic flights even those few security measures that the FAA has been asking for because they were on the edge of bankruptcy every year and didn't really comprehend the dangers gathering in the world.

It shouldn't be a matter of money. I heard a politician from England yesterday state that they best way to avert ALL threats was to institute "El-Al" type measures (El-Al is Israel's national airline), and that that was unthinkable because it would require an enormous expenditure. But Israel pays for most of the security measures. It is part of securing the safety of its own citizens. The airline would, indeed, go bankrupt if the government didn't foot bills for security and for insurance payments in the event of a terrorist attack. Which is why I never fly internationally on any other carrier but El-Al.

TRUTH -- this atrocity took over 3 years to plan, including flight training for the hijackers, acquiring inside help through bribes, or by placing sympathizers in airport jobs YEARS AGO. And I am not talking about Arab-Americans here. Homegrown, tenth generation Americans even in the CIA and FBI have been known to take money for services rendered, and bin Laden's network is rolling in money. Trust the FBI to ferret them out while they are doing the enormous job of checking and rechecking all employees of airlines, airports, and all the businesses that flourish inside the airports, up to taxi companies that are likely to take someone to or from the airport, the dirvers of the airport busses-- It is a humongous job and it is going forward with very little fanfare.

Look, one learns to live with threat. but TRUTH, everyone in this world has been vulnerable to global threats since the first transatlantic jets made it only a few hours between continents. But now bin Laden has made the mistake of upping the ante. He has alerted all countries in the world to the potentials of his network of murderers, and an aroused world can do a very great deal to keep people safe. Dwell on the fact that life is to live, and that the souls of the dead are now within God's kingdom and can't be hurt anymore. And that being fearful and emphasizing the negative are almost an affront to their memory. If life is to stop because of fear, of what use was this terrible sacrifice of lives in New York?

Courage and pride lie in getting on with life. Psychologists and religious practitioners are all over the place to help with the nightmares and memories.

But be vigilant also. Life and living deserve your attention to ensure their preservation.

I am not one to say trust your government, because I have had a lifelong general distrust of governments and their intentions. But in this one thing, I assure you, from the most liberal democratic to the most despotic, all governments of the world (with the exception of those who are hand-in-glove with terrorists) are in perfect agreement about enforcing security regulations that are even now being internationally discussed and implemented. And if they don't want to enforce them, their airports will be cut off from international flights, and their airlines from landing anywhere but in their own countries.

I know your husband's (and because of his, yours) experiences were ghastly, and that they are impossible to forget. But it isn't forgetfulness you want to strive for -- forgetting means that you fall back into old and insecure patterns as a nation. You want to extract the pain from the memories (talk it out, cry, but hang tough) and hold on to the realization that you need to support your government in the measures it is trying to take.

Anyone who heard Clinton explain (after it all came out during this last week) that his government had been pursuing and attacking terrorists, with specific targetting of bin Laden's network Al Qaeda, throughout his two terms, but secretly. We didn't have the support of the key people in the country, he said. We couldn't go out and raise the necessary money, institute the necessary security measures, because the American public wouldn't stand for it. He called it not having the resources. And wasn't he right? If he had pushed the panic buttons 8 years ago, when he and the armed forces and the FAA started to quietly try to increase security all over the world in American institutions, wouldn't most of you, and myself included, have screamed about violations of civil liberties? Police states? Scare mongering? Wouldn't most of the western world have spoken of "Those Americans, always making nonsensical demands...always crying wolf..." and the Muslim countries outraged at America's "branding Muslins as the villains" because of the US alignment with, and support of, Israel? So the FAA suggested the new doors (indeed a company started manufacturing them in anticipation of a demand that most airlines did not make) and heightened security (which was also not fully complied with because of the high expense), special forces teams attacked certain meetings or locations globally from time to time, and the FBI and CIA began to amass intelligence information, which led them to began to investigate certain members of bin Laden's network who were known to be traveling to and from to the US.

That no one in their right mind would have imagined the attacks on New York and Washington -- how can we fault anyone? You have to be a monster to think of such a thing. but now, to coin a phrase we began using back in the Cold War years -- we must think the unthinkable and protect ourselves against it.

Find ways to rationalize your fear so that it does not immobilize you. Otherwise, bin Laden and his ilk will have achieved what they set out to do. Nothing in the world will be the same again, but we can all damned well make it better by going forward together and, along the way, getting rid of some vermin.

I pray for your peace of mind. I wish for us all safety and peace,
post #156 of 331
Dear Val -- I forgot to say the most important thing -- vent away. If you can't share your feelings with the good people here on this thread, where can you? We are all, in our different ways, trying to let go of the horror of last week. I still feel like crying when they show "ground zero." Or when they interview a survivor or a family member of someone "missing."

This is surely a time for people to lean on each other, to cry, to protest against the monstrous mind that planned this, and no doubt future attacks. So vent as long as you need to if it helps to come to terms with something so unspeakable that it is beyond comprehension.

Only don't be afraid, dear Val. Like Mr. Cat says -- there are so many ways to die accidentally, and we can't sit around worrying about them all the time. Otherwise, we would not be able to cope.

I pray for healing,
post #157 of 331

thanks for making so much sense. I feel so much better after reading your post.

post #158 of 331
Thank you both for your excellent words of encouragement and reality! Your posts are in essence "despatches from the front" and thus ring true. It is a great shame that such an awful tragedy as befell those many innocents two weeks ago now serves as a bond between cultures and nations, yet so it is; and I fondly hope our solidarity never fades with time.

post #159 of 331

I would like to second that! What an amazing talent you have, I just love reading your posts. If it weren't for your posts on this tragedy I think the news would be very confusing for me.
post #160 of 331
Thank you Catherine and Anne, and all of you on this site.

I greatly appreciate your support, and part of the healing is to get feelings out, which is one of the reasons I posted what I did here.

Grieving and Trauma go through different stages, and I guess I will have to go through them in my own way.

We here in the US have of course known about attacks like this in other countries. When I hear of attacks in Israel, I cringe and am horrified. I think..."I could not live there, how can people live with that terror around the corner all the time??"

But now that it has come to The United States, we are caught offguard. We are faced with something new, something we thought would not happen to this extent: Terrorism on our shores. When it happens for the first time of such a magnatude, people don't know how to handle it. I know for a fact that there are people here who are now even afraid to leave their houses. Our collective concious is numb. Our collective concious is horrified. Our collective concious is grieving. But still, people are back now in lower Manhattan, and business goes on as usual.

My husband is there, although he is very, very fearful.

Even though I know security here is beefed up, to me it is still in its infancy, and it will take a while for my government to "get it right".

I thank you all again, and I know I have friends here.
I pray for you in Israel, as well as anywhere there is terrorism.
post #161 of 331
Here is a picture of what NYC is going through...It is all true.
This was written to me by a close friend who lives near the WTC, who has not yet been able to return home....

There is almost a feeling of guilt among the living, because it doesn't feel
right to be enjoying such lovely weather in the middle of such destruction
and national emergency. It is the end of summer and there is still warmth in
the air but also a slight pinch of autumn cool. It feels surreal to walk in
the sunny beautiful weather here right now; what a gorgeous day, yet at the
tip of the island there is a huge plume of smoke and thousands buried alive.
New York City has been totally transformed by this event.

The streets are full of emergency vehicles, FBI, national guard, police,
fire men, construction and telephone workers. Every few minutes an F16
fighter jet circles over the city on patrol. Large Navy helicopters thunder
overhead on the southern tip. Processions of police cars, FBI detectives,
motorcycles and special construction crews race southwards, sirens blaring.
Occaisionally, dust and debris covered rescue and police vehicles come north
as well. People stop on the streets and applaud when fire vehicles go by. A
large fire truck went by with a huge flag billowing above it, almost like a
parade float. Everyone is wearing the flag, either a pin, a ribbon or entire
flags on their clothes. Flags hang from the windows, from cars. Taxis and
shops, and in particular those owned by muslims and immigrants, are also
displaying the flag vigoriously, and in some cases one wonders if it is
because they are afraid of being targeted for revenge. Every TV and radio is
tuned to the news. Some people are buying supplies, others are out trying to
have a good time and forget for a while. There are many more people walking
around than usual, even for New York. Everyone is looking around in a
mixture of shock, awe, grief and fear. Every conversation is about the
disaster and the coming war. There are stories about miraculous escapes---I
have met many who were on the higher floors and somehow made it out, others
who survived simply because they were outside for a 10 minute smoke or a

A few blocks from my apartment is the New York City Armory, where the
National Guard has set up a huge staging area for the relief efforts. Around
it are thousands of boxes of water and supplies for the rescuers. Hundreds
of people mob the area: the families and friends of those lost on their cell
phones seeking information, as well as curious onlookers and those simply
mourning the dead or watching the crowd itself. Tents full of international
TV crews and their equipment line the streets. Cables snake in gutters.
Police barricades and army troops try to keep order. Trucks with satellite
dishes and microwave antennas on them beam news stories around the world.
For several blocks around the walls of every building are lined with posters
by the families of the missing: thousands of xeroxes with color photos and
posters mixed with flowers that have been put there by those seeking
information, giving vital stats. There are wedding pictures, pictures of men
with their children, pictures of executives, firemen, police men,
secretaries, window washers, chefs, waiters, laborers, stock traders: all
sorts of people of all races and nationalities were lost in this tragedy. In
fact, the names and faces are more international than American. It was truly
an attack on the world, not just America.

Every bus stop, every telephone pole, the walls at St. Vincent's Hospital,
and other walls and store windows all over the city display the posters for
the missing---they are like gravestones, each one telling a story of a life,
a person, a family, a relationship. There are also impromptu memorials, with
candles and pictures and flowers on street corners, intersections, parks.
Little groups of people, passerbys, stop to think silently around them.
Every few blocks I see an anonymous woman crying alone, sitting in a cafe,
standing in a doorway looking south. People walk holding hands or putting
their arms around each other, happy just to have each other, appreciating
the simple things in life. The entire city is a shrine for the dead. It is
strange to have such horror right here in the greatest city on earth, it is
equally strange to suddenly see such a strong sense of community appear here
in this usually-cynical in insular city not known for its friendliness. Now
not only are strangers speaking to one another like old friends, they are
helping each other without reservations and everyone has the eyes of
compassion. It seems that this city has been brought closer together by what
happened. There is also a new energy of nationalism and patriotism that I've
never experienced in my life, and certainly not among my generation of
dot-com liberal 30-somethings. In a paradoxical way this attack has made the
fabric of this city, and this country, far stronger than it has ever been in
my lifetime. Instead of weakening us it has had an opposite effect.

At the same time, people are terrified, stressed out, disgusted, and the
anger, anxiety and sadness is only starting to hit some. A friend who has
been volunteering day and night at the Armory for 3 days suddenly called me
this morning and finally broke down on the phone; she had been the picture
of strength the whole time and only now, 6 days later has she finally
succumbed to the exhaustion and the stress. Others sit in cafes and
restaurants frantically discussing the scenario, wondering what is really
going on behind the scenes and what will happen when we respond, and after.
People are making contingency plans, where to go, how to escape further

For the last few days it has felt strange to be a New Yorker; the World
Trade towers were a fixture and a symbol of this city, and of the new world
economy. Without them the island of Manhattan feels different, lighter---but
not in a good way---but rather like it is missing something essential, a
part of our collective body. There is an acrid burning smell, like burnt
toast, in the air. People are quiet, thoughtful. This was once a happy,
carefree city, a city where everyone I knew had started an Internet company
and made a fortune, a city where people thought more about what they were
going to invest in or what they were going to wear out on friday night than
about what was going on in the rest of the world. It was a city that was
concerned mainly with money, fashion, culture, sex, fame, success, and
power---I am not saying that these are good things to be focused on, I am
simply saying that this was not a city that was concerned with fear,
tragedy, or loss. It was a city where we built things and never thought
about destruction or disaster. It was a place where it felt good to be
alive, where people had big dreams and big ideas and big offices, a place
where there was infinite potential to achieve one's goals, a place where
fortunes could be made and lost and easily made again. It was a place of
dealmaking and privelage, an island of wealth, an oasis of opportunity, and
also a maze of fun, nightlife, commerce and excitement. And it was a
multi-cultural place where people felt good immersed in the masses, the
multi-ethnic, multi-national sea of humanity---not a city where people
looked at each other with suspicion and dread. This was a city where going
out on the town was a joy, not a place where people wandered the streets
looking desperately for any news of their loved ones. Now the city feels so
different: it is a war zone. It is a casualty. It is a graveyard. These are
feelings that we have never felt about this place or in this place and it is
now a very different city to be sure.

The giant billow of smoke from the wreckage glows at night, illuminated by
the lights of the rescue effort, and rises into the sunny blue sky by day,
obscuring the tops of the other buildings like mountain peaks in the clouds.
You can see it from everywhere. And there is a strange gap in the skyline,
like missing teeth, teeth that have been punched out. Whenever I look south
I remember those unbelievable moments on tuesday morning when I woke up and
looked out my window to see the first tower on fire, then minutes later the
second tower exploding. Like everyone else who was here, I just couldn't
believe it was happening: it was like a bad dream, I actually wished I was
still asleep, but I wasn't. It was impossible to imagine even as it took
place before my eyes. There was nothing to do but stand there openmouthed,
riveted to the South. I remember the intense orange color of the flames
coming from windows in the buildings, the thick smoke pouring from the
gaping holes where the planes went in. It just didn't look the same on TV:
the size and the colors were so much more real from here on the ground. And
then the collapse and the enormous mile-high cloud of smoke above, and the
millions of people walking uptown past my apartment to get away, people
covered in dust from head to toe, trucks bashed in and covered in ash and
debris. It was unreal, it was shocking. The scale of the disaster could only
really be understood if you saw it yourself.

Like so many others who live here and love this city, whenever I face south
now I can't help thinking about all the people who died down there under a
billion tons of rubble, and the many who are possibly still alive in the
buried underground mall complex and subway tunnels that the rescuers still
cannot reach, and in air pockets or crushed vehicles, starving, thirsty,
clinging to survival in the dark somewhere, not knowing what happened, not
knowing if anyone is coming to rescue them. I also can't help thinking about
where the world is headed now, the tragedies and struggles that lie ahead
for all of us. Many choices are being made now---by each of us, and by our
governments---that will set the course of our lives and those of millions or
even billions of others around the world for decades to come. Perhaps now,
more than at any time in the past decades, our destiny hangs in the balance.
In what may the last few weeks of relative peace for a long time, autumn is
coming slowly to New York and the last traces of summer linger for a while.
It really feels like the end of an era, the end of an innocence. In Arab
countries people face east when they pray. In New York City, we pray when we
face south.
post #162 of 331
Dear Val, I am so grateful you shared your friend's letter with us. It is so beautifully written that all of the experience, feeling, senses flow out and overload the reader. It is also very therapeutic, both for your friend and for me as a reader. These two weeks have been very hard -- unable to turn off the TV, but unable to listen or watch at times.

We can only pray that something good comes of all this.

I hope your husband is talking to you about his fears. Men have such difficulty sometimes expressing their inner feelings.

And didn't you adopt a cat in the midst of all this? How did she settle in?

During this two weeks I have taken in a feisty little teacup-sized puppy of about 6 weeks, and a few days ago the veterinarians who so generously take care of my animals at a large discount told me about a kitten they had rescued -- their only alterntives to put it down or give it to the local humane society, which has a very poor record of giving cats away. Of course I offered to take it home. So they, bless them, didn't charge me for cleaning one of my dog's teeth, a blood test to see why she wasn't eating, and some antibiotics. In return I brought home a beautiful little Turkish van-type female with the beginnings of those lovely watered green-blue eyes -- almost totally white except for a pale brown and gray ringed tail and two brown and gray ears. She is also about 5 weeks old, and just about the same size as the puppy! So they made immediate friends -- none of this getting acquainted slowly -- instant games of chase and tag and bottle-top soccer. So from the first night they both sleeping in the bathroom with the doors to the carry boxes wide open. I have not found her name yet, but the puppy is Thumblelina, because she is so tiny. Both the puppy and the kitten have a long haul ahead of them before the older cats accept them, but two surrograte mothers have come forward -- a little black and white female who fosters all the kittens, and the monster golden retriever-type puppy (now about 8 months old), who is fostering the puppy. There is nothing like new babies to put all of life into perspective.

Love and peace,
post #163 of 331

Your post was quite moving. I have knots in my throat and stomach after reading it. I don't even have the words to tell you adequately that I am sending prayers and thoughts your way. May the greatest city in the world overcome the disaster that has befallen it.
post #164 of 331
There is a guy who works on the day shift at our plant, and his brother is one of the many firefighters missing in the rubble. We just found out about it last night.
post #165 of 331
Last Thursday and Friday off-duty fire-fighters in St John NB collected money for the families of their fallen Brothers in NYC. They stood outside shopping malls,held "voluntary tolls",etc by asking folks to toss money into a fireman's boot. In 2 days they raised over $65000. Kids were bringing their piggy banks. This is just one example of how much people care.

In an odd way,all those deaths have made the rest of us into a family with our brothers and sisters of NYC. Let's hope we don't waste it.
post #166 of 331
We had firemen here doing the same thing. It's very touching.
post #167 of 331
The New York Times on the Web

Grieving When the Lost Are Never Found

September 25, 2001


For many of the thousands of people who lost loved ones in the massacre of Sept. 11, the continuing search-and-rescue effort leaves a fragment of hope - either that the missing will somehow be found alive or that their bodies will be recovered so the process of mourning can begin. For some, even a declaration that no more victims will be found alive is difficult or impossible to accept.

There may never be any tangible evidence of death for many of the more than 6,000 unrecovered victims. And this can result in what Dr. Pauline Boss, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota, calls "ambiguous loss" - the unresolved grief and inability to move forward that can occur when there is no verification of a missing person's status as alive or dead.

A Brooklyn man in his 40's said that in the days after the terrorist attacks he could not begin to grieve for his wife, who had been in the World Trade Center when it was destroyed, until he was certain she was dead. He diverted the consoling efforts of friends and instead discussed pedestrian matters like tennis schedules and drink machines.

"Without knowing if the missing person will come back, the grief process is frozen and so is the coping process," said Dr. Boss, the author of "Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live With Unresolved Grief."

For some people - as with many of the families of servicemen and women missing in action and the parents of children who disappeared mysteriously - the uncertainty can last for years, leaving them in a kind of limbo, hoping against hope and unable to say goodbye.

Still, Dr. Boss and other therapists have found, there are ways to cope with ambiguous losses - to make adjustments that allow people to keep hoping yet to accept the likelihood that their loved ones will never return. They can then get on with their lives.

Last week, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani told people that "all hope is not lost," but at the same time he cautioned them to "prepare for the worst, that no more survivors will be found." The longest anyone has survived beneath the rubble of an earthquake was 13 days.

Normal, Natural Feelings

Dr. Boss said it was crucial for people facing the torment of an ambiguous loss to realize that their feelings are normal. "Ambiguity can erode the cognitive and emotional processes that begin us on a journey of grieving and coping," she said.

"This happens to very competent people," Dr. Boss added. "It is not a sign of weakness. The situation is crazy, not the person, yet many people distrust their own sanity because they feel so helpless."

She added that it was important for people suffering ambiguous losses to be tolerant of one another's beliefs, particularly within families in which one person may be more prepared than another to accept the finality of a loss.

"If a belief isn't immobilizing a person, then people should be allowed to have the belief they want," Dr. Boss said. "But if a belief creates dysfunction and causes a person to become frozen and stuck - unable to make decisions, go to work or perform their usual tasks - or if it keeps a person depressed, then it would be helpful to talk with someone to help reframe it so that it becomes functional."

As Dr. Evan Imber-Black, director of the Center for Families and Health at the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York, put it, mourning an ambiguous loss does not mean that memories die. "People can honor their memories of what used to be, but they must move on into the present and not remain locked in the past."

However, Dr. Imber-Black, among others, said that for many people, including those not directly affected by the tragedy, it is all right to move slowly, since reaching that point in recovery can sometimes take a long time.

People can help themselves move forward in the face of an ambiguous loss by asking themselves what the missing person would have wanted them to do. Would that person have wanted them to be unable to work or to be as sad as they are?

Would they have wanted them to cancel celebrations or fail to see beauty in the world? "Often this kind of thinking can help people break loose and move forward," Dr. Boss said.

"No one could bear this disaster if life stopped moving on, with weddings, babies being born and other causes for celebration," she said. "People must look into the face of beauty because they've seen the face of evil. They can find beauty in the face of a baby, in nature, in music, art, a cathedral, synagogue or mosque. Each of us needs to find a place where we can look at some beauty, some sign of life to prevent us from getting frozen in place. You may cry when you see something beautiful, but that's O.K.; it's a normal reaction."

Even without a formal announcement that the missing were indeed dead, some people were ready last week to acknowledge the permanence of their loss. For example, a neighbor's missing 39-year-old son - the father of a 5-month-old girl - was honored in a prayer and memorial service at which friends and relatives offered moving tributes to a glorious life cut much too short.

Others with missing loved ones said they had begun to shift their thinking from hoping to find the lost person to accepting the fact that the person would never come back.

Dr. Boss notes in her book that there is a natural tendency to place blame when things go so wrong. A woman in Boston blamed herself for insisting, in spite of a financial hardship, that her husband fly to the West Coast for his stepdaughter's wedding. He was on one of the planes that crashed into the twin towers. A more reasonable attitude, Dr. Boss said, is to let go of cause-and- effect thinking and self blame and realize that sometimes bad things just happen.

She wrote: "If we can't forgive ourselves - or others - we ruminate about the past; there is no closure. We cannot grieve." It is crucial, she said, to realize that the situation is not your fault.

Advice for Moving On

Her advice to people facing an ambiguous loss is to talk to others about how you feel; to keep hoping, but at the same time not feel that it's wrong to think about a future without the loved one; to talk with others about the stress of not knowing; not to be a loner, but to let others help you; and to do some daily activity, even a small one, where you feel more in control.

Many people have said, for example, that exercise helps, as does doing something useful for someone else.

Dr. Boss says it is also helpful to honor the missing person in whatever way seems fitting - perhaps with a memorial service, a book of tributes, a work of art or a contribution to the person's favorite charity.

In her book, she points out that there are lessons to be learned from ambiguity. "It can make people less dependent on stability and more comfortable with spontaneity and change," she wrote. "With ambiguous loss, the task is to let go, to risk moving forward, even when we do not know exactly where we are going."

The comedian Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989, at age 42, wrote of her acceptance of ambiguity in her book "It's Always Something": "Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end.

"Like my life, this book is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. I may never be able to control the fear and the panic, but I have learned to control how I live each day."

That is the task of people facing an ambiguous loss: to learn to live life as fully as possible despite the uncertainty and the persistent sorrow it can create.


Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

post #168 of 331
The New York Times on the Web

Therapists Hear Survivors' Refrain: 'If Only'

September 25, 2001


They are an uneasy current running beneath the stories of close calls, courageous acts and sudden losses: regrets shaped by hindsight, what-ifs and if- only's, wishes to undo what cannot be undone.

A woman replays over and over in her mind the argument she had with her husband on the morning of Sept. 11. It was a silly spat, about where the two would meet that evening, says a therapist the woman confided in. Her husband left in a huff, without kissing her or saying goodbye. Within hours, he was missing in the rubble.

A group of firefighters in Brooklyn retrace an endless circle of lost possibilities. "If only we had left a moment later," they tell a counselor. "If only the traffic pattern had been different."

An investment banker, late to work that Tuesday, cannot stop imagining the last moments of each of his colleagues in the World Trade Center, how this one would have been frightened, how that one would have been a fighter.

"The sense is, he should have been killed with everyone else," said Dr. Yael Danieli, the clinical psychologist that the man consulted.

In the wake of devastation, especially that wrought by humans, often come feelings of guilt and regret, said Dr. Danieli, a founder of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, who has worked with survivors in Rwanda and Argentina, and other experts on the psychological impact of trauma.

The joy of being alive is tinged with shame at having survived when others did not. Or as one firefighter put it, "I feel guilty that I'm glad I wasn't there."

Dr. Edna Foa, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said she had not seen a trauma victim that did not feel guilty about something.

And faced with events that evoked, at least momentarily, images of nuclear war - a resonance given eerie echo in the designation of the World Trade Center site as "ground zero" - even people spared immediate losses may feel they must somehow make up for being alive when so many died.

"There are concentric circles of survivor experience," said Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a psychiatrist at Harvard, who has studied the survivors of Hiroshima, the Holocaust and other human-inflicted terrors.

"At the center are those people who are directly affected by the planes attacking," Dr. Lifton said. "But in New York, the survivor experience is more broad. There is a feeling of self-condemnation unless one can offer one's energies to those who have suffered."

This collective sense of a debt incurred by survival, Dr. Lifton and other experts said, may well have contributed to the almost desperate need to feel useful expressed by many people in the days after the attacks.

Blood donors lined up for hours and many were distraught at being turned away. Volunteers flooded crisis lines and other services. Firehouses and police stations overflowed with gifts and tributes.

Guilt may seem an irrational response to events that were impossible to predict and even more impossible to control. But, at least in the immediate aftermath of disaster, Dr. Danieli said, the idea that one could somehow have prevented what happened may help ward off the even more frightening notion that the events were completely random and senseless. This attempt to hold on to some vestige of control, she said, can be discerned in many survivors' distress.

"You can't sleep, you can't let go," she said. "There is a fear of dreaming and particularly of nightmares. It sounds terrible, but one would rather suffer the torment instead of letting oneself truly experience total helplessness, and to take that helplessness into the image of the world around us."

Dr. Danieli added that regrets also could be a way for relatives and friends to maintain continuity by holding on to those who have died and to begin the process of mourning.

Some, she said, may be afraid to go to sleep "because in their sleep they may forget the person and that feels disloyal."

Researchers have found that some aspects of the way people cope with sudden losses appear to be an integral part of the mind's basic equipment for interpreting the outside world.

For example, in studies beginning in the 1970's, Dr. Baruch Fischhoff, a professor of social and decision science at Carnegie Mellon University, and other psychologists have demonstrated that once people know the outcome of an event, they routinely overestimate how much predictive information they had beforehand.

"If I ask you to remember how you saw things in the past, before you knew how they were going to turn out, you can't reconstruct your own previous perspective," Dr. Fischhoff said.

This "hindsight bias," he believes, may be an adaptive mechanism, crafted by evolution as a way to integrate new information with old.

But for survivors, it can translate into a conviction that they should have known what was about to happen - and done something about it. A husband who urged his wife not to continue working at the World Trade Center after the 1993 bombing there, for example, might in hindsight feel responsible, though the impossibility of foreseeing hijacked planes hitting the towers may be obvious to everyone around him.

"You can't be obligated to prevent unforeseeable events," said Dr. Edward Kubany, a psychologist affiliated with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who studies survival guilt.

"There is only one satisfactory action to a why question," Dr. Kubany said, "and that is bad luck, wrong place, wrong time."

The urge to mentally "undo" horrible events by going over in one's mind all the things that could have kept them from happening is also a basic psychological response, according to work by Dr. Daniel Kahneman, a professor of psychology at Princeton, and his colleagues.

"It's very easy to imagine an alternative to what actually happened and for some reason, people are really driven to do this," Dr. Kahneman said in an interview.

He began studying the mental need to run through alternative outcomes after his nephew died in a 1975 plane crash while in the Israeli military. "We just kept thinking, `If only,'" Dr. Kahneman said.

The obsession with what could have been can be especially intense, he added, when the victim was present at the scene only by chance, rather than as part of a normal routine.

For the survivors of the terrorist attacks, for example, the sense of regret is probably most palpable for the relatives of those who, in the ordinary course of events, should not have been there: emergency workers who switched shifts that morning, people attending a one-day event at the World Trade Center or those who were there to deliver a package or visit a friend.

Dr. Kahneman noted that when he was in the Israeli army, the officers did not permit troops to exchange assignments or shifts because if a soldier was killed after such a trade, "the survivor was in deep trouble" emotionally.

For most people, the guilt, regret and other emotions traumatic losses inspire will dissipate in time, healed in the company of family members and friends, by the rituals and traditions of bereavement and by the outpouring of support that Americans have offered the victims.

But survival guilt that persists for months or even years is also a feature of post-traumatic stress disorder, a severe reaction to trauma, both in its acute and chronic form.

Many experts believe that how well people recover depends in part on the meaning that is eventually derived from those losses.

Dr. Viktor Frankl, a psychoanalyst, found that Holocaust survivors who were able to place their experiences into some larger context of meaning fared better psychologically.

Dr. Frankl, himself a concentration camp survivor, wrote that on forced labor marches, he kept himself alive by summoning the image of his wife.

"I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look," he wrote. "Real or not, her look then was more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise."

Dr. Lifton, in interviewing survivors of Hiroshima, said that "what many came to as a kind of meaning was their having been the first to experience these dreadful weapons."

"They could therefore know something about what the weapons do to people," he said, "and could warn the world about their dangers."

Dr. Lifton added, "We, as human beings and as survivors, have to create that meaning in relation to the event. The meaning can be enormously varied and the experience itself doesn't give you meaning automatically."

Dr. Michael Garrett, the deputy director of psychiatry at Bellevue Hospital, tried to convey a similar message when he counseled firefighters in Brooklyn.

"These firemen are tough guys, and getting them to talk about this is difficult," Dr. Garrett said.

While the Red Cross fliers the firefighters receive tell them to eat regularly and get enough rest, he noted, "the response of most of these guys is, `When I'm off duty, I go to a funeral.' "

Dr. Garrett said he encouraged them to focus on what they accomplished at the scene, on how much they helped other people.

"Retrospective thinking torments people," he said. "Real life moves forwardly."


Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

post #169 of 331
There are any things that will remain in each person's subconcious for years or even for life. I have one recurring image which intrudes at odd times even tho it is an image from my own imagination..no way I could have seen it. Yet it has the power to wake me. I hope that someday it will fade.

But to imagine the images that will haunt those at ground zero is daunting..God help them,they are indeed heroes for going back every day. There should be some recognition for each and every one..individually...and any psychiatric help they may need.
post #170 of 331
"Amen" to that!

post #171 of 331
From: Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Col, USAF (Ret) Former Director of Military History, USAF Academy

Recently, I was asked to look at the recent events through the lens of military history. I have joined the cast of thousands who have written an "open letter to Americans."

14 September 2001

Dear friends and fellow Americans,

Like everyone else in this great country, I am reeling from last week's attack on our sovereignty. But unlike some,I am not reeling from surprise. As a career soldier and a student and teacher of military history, I have a different perspective and I think you should hear it. This war will be won or lost by the American citizens, not diplomats, politicians or soldiers. Let me briefly explain.

In spite of what the media, and even our own government is telling us, this act was not committed by a group of mentally deranged fanatics. To dismiss them as such would be among the gravest of mistakes. This attack was
committed by a ferocious, intelligent and dedicated adversary. Don't take this the wrong way. I don't admire these men and I deplore their tactics, but I respect their capabilities. The many parallels that have been made with the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are apropos. Not only because it was a brilliant sneak attack against a complacent America, but also because we may well be pulling our new adversaries out of caves 30 years after we think this war is over, just like my father's generation had to do with the formidable Japanese in the years following WW II.

These men hate the United States with all of their being, and we must not underestimate the power of their moral commitment. Napoleon, perhaps the world's greatest combination of soldier and statesman, stated "the moral is to the physical as three is to one." Patton thought the Frenchman underestimated its importance and said moral
conviction was five times more important in battle than physical strength. Our enemies are willing - better said anxious - to give their lives for their cause. How committed are we America? And for how long?

In addition to demonstrating great moral conviction, the recent attack demonstrated a mastery of some of the basic fundamentals of warfare taught to most military officers worldwide, namely simplicity, security and surprise. When I first heard rumors that some of these men may have been trained at our own Air War College, it made perfect sense to me. This was not a random act of violence, and we can expect the same sort of military competence to be displayed in the battle to come. This war will escalate, with a good portion of it happening right here in the good ol' US of A.

These men will not go easily into the night. They do not fear us. We must not fear them. In spite of our overwhelming conventional strength as the "world's only superpower" (a truly silly term), we are the underdog in this fight. As you listen to the carefully scripted rhetoric designed to prepare us for the march for war, please realize that America is not equipped or seriously trained for the battle ahead. To be certain, our soldiers are much better than the enemy, and we have some excellent "counter-terrorist" organizations, but they are mostly trained for hostage rescues, airfield seizures, or the occasional "body snatch," (which may come in handy). We will be fighting a war of annihilation, because if their early efforts are any indication, our enemy is ready and willing to die to the last man.

Eradicating the enemy will be costly and time consuming. They have already deployed their forces in as many as 20 countries, and are likely living the lives of everyday citizens. Simply put, our soldiers will be tasked with a search and destroy mission on multiple foreign landscapes, and the public must be patient and supportive until the
strategy and tactics can be worked out. For the most part, our military is still in the process of redefining itself and presided over by men and women who grew up with - and were promoted because they excelled in - Cold War doctrine, strategy and tactics. This will not be linear warfare, there will be no clear "centers of gravity" to strike with high technology weapons. Our vast technological edge will certainly be helpful, but it will not be decisive.

Perhaps the perfect metaphor for the coming battle was introduced by the terrorists themselves aboard the hijacked aircraft -- this will be a knife fight, and it will be won or lost by the ingenuity and will of citizens and soldiers, not by software or smart bombs. We must also be patient with our military leaders. Unlike Americans who are eager to put this messy time behind us, our adversaries have time on their side, and they will use it. They plan to fight a battle of attrition, hoping to drag the battle out until the American public loses its will to fight. This might be difficult to believe in this euphoric time of flag waving and patriotism, but it is generally acknowledged that America lacks the stomach for a long fight. We need only look as far back as Vietnam, when North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap (also a military history teacher) defeated the United States of America without ever winning a major tactical battle. American soldiers who marched to war cheered on by flag waving Americans in 1965 were reviled and spat upon less than three years later when they returned. Although we hope that Osama Bin Laden is no Giap, he is certain to understand and employ the concept. We can expect not only large doses of pain like the recent attacks, but also less audacious "sand in the gears" tactics, ranging from livestock infestations to attacks at water supplies and power distribution facilities.

These attacks are designed to hit us in our "comfort zone," forcing the average American to "pay more and play less" and eventually eroding our resolve. But it can only work if we let it. It is clear to me that the will of the American citizenry - you and I - is the center of gravity the enemy has targeted. It will be the fulcrum upon which victory or defeat will turn. He believes us to be soft, impatient, and self-centered. He may be right, but if so, we must change. The Prussian general, Carl von Clausewitz, (the most often quoted and least read military theorist in history), says that there is a "remarkable trinity of war" that is composed of (1) the will of the people, (2) the political leadership of the government, and (3) the chance and probability that plays out on the field of battle, in that order. Every American citizen was in the cross hairs of last Tuesday's attack, not just those that were unfortunate enough to be in the World Trade Center or Pentagon.

The will of the American people will decide this war. If we are to win, it will be because we have what it takes to persevere through a few more hits, learn from our mistakes, improvise, and adapt. If we can do that, we will eventually prevail. Everyone I've talked to in the past few days has shared a common frustration, saying in one form or another, "I just wish I could do something!" You are already doing it. Just keep faith in America, and continue to support your President and military, and the outcome is certain.

If we fail to do so, the outcome is equally certain.
post #172 of 331
Dear Lotsacats -- That is an excellent letter. Sober, knowledgable, intelligent, and very timely. I do hope everyone reads it.

Is it permitted to pass it on?
post #173 of 331
‘The Times’ On Line


A humane memorial to an inhuman act


How to commemorate a catastrophe? The “war on terrorism†has hardly begun but America is debating its first memorial, the site of the destroyed World Trade Centre. But what should it be? The purpose of any memorial is to recall, yet the ambition of the city is to restore normality. Can any structure express such contrasting emotions? Can it forget the deed, yet remember the dead?

In Bishopsgate in the City of London, the empty site of old St Ethelburga’s Church is near the spot where the IRA exploded a large and lethal bomb in 1993. Rebuilding the City’s ruined temples of Mammon proved a relatively easy undertaking. Rebuilding the temple of God proved more difficult. Should it become a park or a monument or something modern? Or should it be rebuilt facsimile, giving a sort of rebirth to what violence had destroyed? The answer is to be the latter. St Ethelburga’s is being reinstated largely as it was before the 1993 disaster. The terrorist will be left with no token of his handiwork. I believe it was the right decision.

So will New York rebuild the World Trade Centre? The debate is engrossing the city and is full of transatlantic echoes.

It comes as no surprise where the architects stand. They are for rebuilding big. Already Philip Johnson, Richard Meier, Robert Stern are demanding a “bigger and better†World Trade Centre. The centre’s owner, Larry Silverstein, talks of reconstructing not two 110-storey towers but four at 50 storeys, “to avoid creating new targetsâ€. He is supported by a real estate lobby which points out that 16 acres of Downtown Manhattan is never going to become “just a parkâ€. Money, after all, is money.

Rebuilding is supported by the mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, who vowed the day after the disaster that “our skyline will rise againâ€. A Gallup poll, albeit held in the immediate aftermath, showed 64 per cent of New Yorkers wanting the skyline restored. One respondent even suggested that they be rebuilt but left empty as a memorial. The idea does not find favour with Mr Silverstein, who this year paid $3.2 billion for the WTC.

Others take a different view. The WTC’s biographer, Eric Darton, argues that the towers never won the affection of New Yorkers: “They were sculptural, austere, dominating, not a combination that says ‘love me’.†Letters in The New York Times reflect this. They ask for a stark frame of twisted aluminium to be left as a monument in a park, like Coventry cathedral’s east window. The site of the 1995 Oklahoma City bomb is now a park. Artists want to erect a virtual tower of lasers, a memorial of light. Some point out that giant structures with 25,000 occupants are simply too big, “an easy target for crazy peopleâ€.

Throughout history, human settlements have rebuilt on the ruins of disaster. There are nine cities of Troy, each layer stained by fire. After the last European war, Warsaw, Budapest and Tours reconstructed their old towns as acts of cultural defiance. British cities tried to anticipate Mr Giuliani and “build something betterâ€. Few succeeded. They merely wiped out their former identity and produced city centres that swiftly degenerated into squalor.

“Something better†has been the cry of architects down the ages. The MP Alistair Burt wrote to this paper yesterday calling for the “best of the world’s architects and designers†to come together in New York to “turn pitiless cruelty into renewalâ€. I fear for the outcome. What Mr Burt means can be seen in the monumentalist rebuilding of bomb-torn Manchester and Berlin’s Potsdamerplatz. Every urban scholar knows one axiom. The most congenial, most populated and most desirable neighbourhoods in any city are usually the old ones. Thousands might have worked in the World Trade Centre, but when they left each night they fled to New York’s SoHo, Tribeca and Greenwich Village. They sought pavements, awnings, open air, streets built in simple multiples of the human scale. Likewise Washington flees to Georgetown and London to any quarter fronted in brick or stucco. Nobody lingers in the steel and sheetglass caverns of today’s satanic mills.

The profession of architecture has struggled for half a century to “renew†Britain’s cities with big buildings. I remember the architect-planners of Liverpool, Leeds and Glasgow boasting the new Jerusalems that would arise from their drawing boards. The intention was as arrogant as the outcomes have been sickening. The Barbican and South Bank in London still need subsidies to get people to visit them. The demolition and recasting of much of urban Britain yielded some of the bleakest city centres in Europe. Architects never apologise. They just want to do it again.

Only where old fabric has been left in place has magnetism survived. Manchester now desperately promotes its Castlefield basin, Liverpool its docks and Birmingham its Jewellery Quarter. After long wanting them destroyed, they now find these areas hold the key to commercial as well as social rebirth. Even Milton Keynes publicises its few remaining “villagesâ€. Cities need lively streets. There are none in a 100-storey tower, and none that are tolerable within half a mile of one.

When the urban historian Jane Jacobs demanded “defensible spaceâ€, she did not mean the fortified towers of modern architecture. She meant diverse streets of houses, offices, shops, cafés and pedestrians. Their presence has made the older cities of Europe globally popular. Where people feel safe, they congregate. Where they congregate, they bring money. But safety does not lie in an armed man guarding a glass door.

Modern architecture can supply monuments. It offers museums, universities, galleries, bridges, towers, mansions. But it seems quite unable to design neighbourhoods to which people want to come. Bristol and Cardiff have for ten years been seeking to create the friendly, informal quaysides of Plymouth or Weymouth. They have failed. The challenge has defeated their architects. They serve up great lumps of boast and walk off with a fee. They are doctors who can saw off limbs and stitch on new ones, but find keyhole surgery beyond them. They abuse as pasticheurs those who demand qualities of humanity and intimacy in their city.

The Middle Ages knew how to handle big buildings. The castles and cathedrals of antiquity had shanty towns tucked round their footings. The 18th and 19th centuries knew instinctively what made a good neighbourhood, a mix of houses, markets and mews. They designed porches that policed pavements. Squares and gardens made every house a palace. These quarters still contrive to embody in brick and stone the continuous personality of a city in ways that seem to defy the late-20th century.

Le Corbusier and his architectural disciples — Lewis Mumford’s “bat-eyed priests of technology†— still see the future of cities in towers, not because cities need to build up but because high means virile and glorious. Any settlement can achieve at low-rise enough density for civilised living. It was the inhumane approach to architecture typified by the WTC towers that shocked the critic, Ada Louise Huxtable. In Whose Afraid of Big Bad Buildings?, she wondered if they would not prove “the biggest tombstones in the worldâ€.

History not terrorism will judge these towers. As their fabric deteriorates, most will become slums, dangerous structures inhabited by the poor. That is already the fate of the towers of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean littoral, filling with refugees. The insecure economies of the Far East may yearn for such structures as totems of capitalist success. They will soon empty into high-density low-rise buildings. Towers are architecture that hates people. Urban dispersal and electronic employment will render them ever less profitable, as will new, hugely expensive escape and fire regulations.

New York will make up its own mind. But how exhilarating if it were to use its tragedy to buck the past and create not another corporate swing-door monoculture, but instead a low-rise enclave of public resort, its buildings remembering, consoling, intimate, magnetic and tolerant of their environs. I cannot imagine how such a village-in-the-city would look, but that is surely the ideal challenge to a good architect. It would be better than two more totems shooting the sky.


Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd.

September 28, 2001

post #174 of 331
Please pass it on. I thought it was one of the best commentaries I have read about this "war".
post #175 of 331
What a great article! I like the author's ideas of how to rebuild. Thanks for sharing it with us.
post #176 of 331
The New York Times on the Web

Recalling a Neighbor Who Didn't Come Home

September 25, 2001


Part of New York City's unique social ecology - impersonal at times, strangely intimate at others - derives from the very height of its buildings. The vertical nature of New York City imposes on its people one of the most awkward but repetitive of human relationships: that with our fellow elevator riders.

Standing physically close to strangers in silence feels bizarre, but then again, so does any kind of gratuitous pleasantry. There is no right way to do it.

Yet as so often occurs in New York, the very peculiarity of the situation creates its own opportunities. At times, relationships emerge from these strained encounters. Like those tiny, hardy flowers one finds in parts of the world with the most extreme and inclement weather, small tendrils of social life tenaciously survive and grow.

In the elevator of my apartment building I have, quite literally, a nodding acquaintance with any number of people. One of these was an attractive professional woman whom I would often see on the elevator in the morning. She had a pleasant, open face and a chic but slightly old-world style of dress. Sometimes she would even wear fashionable hats, a touch that I found nervy and original. We would smile at each other as we headed out into the sunny or wet or autumnal days.

Two weeks ago, a few blocks from our building, she hailed me and fell into step as I walked. Clarin, as my neighbor is called, had seen a piece of mine in this column about one of my psychiatric patients who had died of cancer.

She had been particularly moved by the article because she had recently experienced the death from cancer of her male companion. Walking down the street, we chatted about the uses of psychiatry in such situations. We parted feeling much more like neighbors than we ever had before.

Two days later, when I finally arrived home on that terrible Tuesday, Sept. 11, I heard that Clarin had not returned from work. A neighbor took in her mail. Clarin's phone kept ringing. A close friend later told me there were 90 phone calls on Clarin's answering machine that day - people who knew she worked at the World Trade Center checking in to make sure she was O.K.

Over the week, her bills, letters, and junk mail kept arriving. Sunlight streamed into her apartment. Clothes were delivered from the dry cleaner. She was away and yet still here in some disturbing invisible way; Clarin seemed neither alive nor dead.

Thinking back to our conversation, I remembered her description of her friend Jack's death, surrounded by people who cared about him. His death suddenly seemed like a luxury; a death that had some humanity and context, woven into the fabric of his own life and those around him.

Clarin had, quite literally, vanished into thin air. We kept seeing the image of the World Trade Center buildings tumbling down in a hurricane of debris, concrete, steel and asbestos - but no people. Tiny mementos of lives floated down from the sky as papers settled onto the street with scraps of information or scribbled notes or lists. All other signs of the buildings' inhabitants had been reduced to a thick, dusty layer of ash. The days were clear and blue-skied, but the air smelled strange. Life both continued and yet stood still; nothing got done.

Slowly signs of life - and death - began to appear. In our building, candles were placed on the lobby mantel with a picture of Clarin. Then flowers appeared and more flowers. Six days after the disaster, the building held a vigil for her. People streamed down the stairs and packed into the elevators. The lobby was filled as we read a psalm together.

Friends and family described Clarin as a woman of unusual generosity, adored by a large circle of friends. We heard about her reading group, her organization of cooking marathons with her friends, her role as a one-woman support system for her fellow lawyers. I wished I had had more than my brief elevator friendship with her, cut off at its very beginning.

Yet somehow the gathering brought Clarin's life back to us out of the powdery, white smoke of the World Trade Center, back among the living. She was as vivid a presence as anyone standing in that room. It was a celebration of a life of great kindness and warmth. We felt the tragedy of her death, but she was no longer absent.

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

post #177 of 331
Dear Mr. Cat, Now I am crying again. But it is a good crying. These sober and heartfelt memorials in prose are worth more than all the sermons and political speeches and angry thoughts. They transcend and make small the racial and religious hatred excited by this wholly ungodly act. They speak of humanity and conscience and a deep well of human love that needs only to be tapped. I pray that the stark and compelling lessons will not be forgotten by everyone once the long grieving period plays itself out. I pray that germs of the overwhelming sense of a homogeneous humanity will not die as ego and self-interest try to re-establish themselves.

Rabbi Hillel was once asked by a man what Jews believed, and was asked to answer while the man stood on one foot (make it short, he was saying). Hillel said what has been adopted by all the religions, at least of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as the Golden Rule -- Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. And Jesus said, Love your neighbor as thyself.

Do how come we three cannot live together in love? We do not have to like everything the other does. We do not have to follow the same rituals. God understands hearts, not rituals.

May it be for good, we Jews say as the ending to many prayers. Well, may this terrible human sacrifice be for good. May it open the hearts of the people the world over to the single humanity, who are all children of the same creation.

Love and peace,
post #178 of 331
Indeed, Catherine, such anecdotes as the one written by Dr. Fels do more to make us appreciate one another than do all the academic lectures or political speeches about human relations. As you have beautifully stated: "God understands hearts, not rituals."


P.S.: Everything I've ever heard about Rabbi Hillel convinces me he must have been a very wise man. I'd love to read a book about his life, assuming such a tome exists. (I tried, unsuccessfully, years ago to find such a book.)

post #179 of 331
The New York Times on the Web

Now, Doctors Must Identify the Dead Among the Trade Center Rubble

September 25, 2001


Doctors are gearing up for the largest effort in the annals of forensic medicine: identifying the dead in the World Trade Center attacks.

The scientists always knew the identifications would be an arduous task, but with more than 6,000 people still unaccounted for and relatively few bodies recovered, it is turning out to be a far bigger job than they expected.

The effort has a dual purpose - to provide evidence for those investigating the attacks and to bring answers to families and friends whose lives may be suspended in unresolved grief until there is evidence of their loved one's fate.

Some identifications have already come from such time-honored techniques as autopsies and studies of dental records, X-rays or fingerprints. Some people have been identified by scars, rings or other pieces of jewelry.

But the destructive force unleashed in the collapse of the World Trade Center was so great that many bodies are beyond detection by these methods. So doctors are turning to sophisticated techniques to compare the DNA of unidentified bodies or body parts with that obtainable from combs, toothbrushes or other personal effects of the missing.

If these objects do not yield usable cells for comparison purposes, the doctors will turn to close relatives of the missing, hoping a comparison of their DNA will help identify the dead.

Forensic use of DNA testing began in 1985 and has evolved into what law enforcement experts call the most powerful tool since the development of fingerprinting in the late 19th century. In the mid-1990's DNA testing was used to identify exhumed bones as those of Czar Nicholas II and members of his family who were executed in Russia in 1918. In 1998, DNA testing identified the "unknown soldier" killed in Vietnam.

Now DNA testing has become standard in mass disasters. Improved techniques provide speedier testing and greater precision, allowing doctors to make identifications that would otherwise be impossible. The average person has 100 trillion cells; in theory, identification is possible from just one.

The New York City medical examiner's office has pledged to test DNA on all tissue it receives from the World Trade Center disaster site, although forensic specialists say some victims may never be identified.

Dr. Robert Shaler, who directs forensic biology for the medical examiner's office, estimated the day after the attacks that his laboratory may have to perform 20,000 DNA tests on the remains. Now he knows there will be far more tests.

"Things have been changing almost hourly since then," he said, and some experts now predict that as many as a million DNA tests may be required. He said the city would do whatever is necessary to identify as many victims as possible.

"We have two public missions - one to New York City and the victims, the other to the city's criminal justice system," Dr. Shaler said in an interview.

Dr. Shaler says his is the largest forensic DNA facility in the country; still, it cannot handle the expected volume of tests. So his team has welcomed the aid of the New York State Police and contracted with a number of private laboratories to do them.

Presumptive identifications of some victims may be made from pictures of the deceased and through wallets found on their bodies. Tattoos can be useful, but not always. Sometimes family members are unaware that a relative had a tattoo.

Identification carried in a wallet can be useful, but only if officials know it belonged to the person on whom it was found - which is not always the case. "How do we know he wasn't a pickpocket?" asked Dr. Charles Wetli, the Suffolk County medical examiner.

Even in-person identification of bodies by relatives may not be reliable. Dr. Wetli recalls a case from his work in Miami in which a bereaved man identified a body as that of his wife - even though the body, a man's, had been shown to him by mistake.

In 1996, Dr. Wetli led the forensic investigation of the victims of the crash of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island. When terrorism was initially suspected, his team decided it could not rely on presumptive identifications and used DNA testing, Dr. Wetli said. DNA testing had been used in identifying more than 80 Branch Davidians who died during a standoff with F.B.I. agents in Waco, Tex., in 1993. DNA was also used to identify all but 2 of the 141 Ukrainians and Russians aboard a Russian airplane that crashed near Spitsbergen, Norway, in 1996.

Dr. Jack Ballantyne, who ran the DNA laboratory in Dr. Wetli's office, said the Suffolk County team used DNA to identify 22 of the 230 victims in the TWA crash who would not otherwise have been identified. It was the first time such testing had been used in a commercial airplane crash in the United States.

DNA testing also led to the identification of all bodies in the crash of a Swissair plane in 1998 and an Egypt Air plane in 1999, said Dr. Michael M. Baden, the chief forensic pathologist for the New York State Police.

DNA identification of the victims and hijackers could be important in a criminal investigation by aiding law enforcement officials in bringing any accomplices to trial.

But the World Trade Center disaster is many times larger than the TWA, Swissair and EgyptAir crashes. Although the forensic specialists have passenger lists for the two hijacked planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, there is no way to list everyone who might have been in the Trade Center buildings and surrounding area during the attacks and subsequent collapse of the towers.

The process of recovering bodies and tissue from the site is agonizingly slow and grisly. As workers sift through the rubble, they are finding more body parts than bodies. Because no pathologist can tell which piece of tissue came from which victim without DNA testing, forensic scientists may test scores of tissues that turn out to be from the same person.

As of yesterday morning, 152 bodies had been identified and their relatives notified, the medical examiner's office said, and all identifications have been through traditional means like fingerprints and dental records. Dr. Shaler said his laboratory had extracted DNA from 3,200 of the 3,600 tissues it has received and has produced DNA profiles of 839 among them. He added that this week he expected to send the extracted DNA to the private laboratories, where scientists will try to match them with DNA submitted by relatives or from personal items.

In the World Trade Center disaster, exploding jet fuel and crumbling buildings may have charred and pulverized many bodies before and after they fell.

Some bodies, even bodies that fell from very high floors, were still intact after hitting the ground. But most of the remains found at the site showed signs of injury severe enough to make visual identification impossible. Some were severely burned.

So workers at the site are struggling to recover them as quickly as they can, under dangerous working conditions. Microbes, enzymes, insects and other environmental factors accelerate decomposition and degrade DNA, usually within a few weeks. The problem ends once tissues are received in the laboratory, where the remains can be refrigerated for long periods until ready for DNA testing.

Because the rate of decomposition depends on heat, light and humidity, the effect of these environmental factors will depend on the location of the bodies and tissue in the rubble. Even so, forensic workers can often obtain usable tissue by cutting into deep muscle.

Dr. Shaler's lab is using automated systems to extract DNA from up to 4,000 tissue samples a day. The material will then be sent for testing at two private labs - Myriad Genetic Laboratories of Salt Lake City and Celera in Rockville, Md., one of the laboratories that led the effort to sequence the human genome.

Meanwhile, toothbrushes, combs, locks of hair and other personal effects are being sent for DNA extraction at the New York State Police Laboratory in Albany. Swabs taken from the mouths of relatives have also been sent there for DNA extraction.

The State Police will also send the DNA for testing at Myriad and Celera. Dr. Shaler's laboratory, the state police laboratory and another yet to be chosen will also test 5 percent of all samples as a quality control for the tests performed at the private labs.

All the teams are receiving software from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help match DNA from victims' tissues with their personal items. The teams are also developing a computer network for more efficient communication.

Two types of DNA testing are available, and the choice will depend largely on the state of the tissue.

In both types, the findings from tests on the remains are compared with those from the samples obtained from close relatives or the victims' personal effects, said Dr. Jack Ballantyne, who did the DNA testing in the TWA crash and who is now a professor of chemistry at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and assistant director of its National Center of Forensic Science.

If needed, the scientists can also seek lipstick or lip balm, underwear, swabs used in a recent Pap test or organs or other tissue that pathologists have stored after removal in surgery.

In tests of preserved tissue, the forensic experts can directly match the DNA extracted from the nucleus of cells from the victim with DNA recovered from personal effects like a toothbrush. Also, the victim's DNA can be compared with that of close relatives.

A standard nuclear technique is S.T.R. (for short tandem repeats), which identifies the sequence of the four chemicals, or nucleotides, that form DNA.

The S.T.R. technique focuses on 13 particular sites, or loci, spread out over the 23 pairs of chromosomes that are standard in the F.B.I.'s national database. The DNA from the 13 sites is in nonfunctional areas of the genome. On each of the 13 loci the strings of DNA repeat themselves and the number of repetitions tends to vary among people. So the number of repeats at all 13 yield a probability that a match among unrelated individuals is less than one in a trillion.

When tissue has decomposed, the scientists use mitochondria, organelles inside the cell, separate from its nucleus, that have their own DNA. Mitochondrial DNA can survive in hair, teeth and bones.

Because mitochondrial DNA is inherited only from the mother, samples used for comparison with a victim's must come from either a maternal relative or the victim's personal effects.

So if the missing victim is female, samples obtained from her mother, maternal grandmother, siblings or children can provide useful comparisons.

But comparative samples from a male victim can come only from his mother, maternal grandmother, maternal aunt or uncle or any sibling, but not from his children.

If two or more victims are descended in the female line from the same woman, their tissues cannot be individually identified from mitochondrial DNA. But they could be distinguished by nuclear DNA tests.

The caveats take on critical significance in the World Trade Center attacks because all the hijackers were male and obtaining samples from sisters or mothers seems unlikely.

Even so, identification of hijackers could be made from personal effects that law enforcement officials collect from the hijackers' homes in this country, or even in their native countries. Such effects could include fingerprint residues and dried saliva left on a coffee mug or envelope.


Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

post #180 of 331
Dear Mr. Cat -- Another thank-you is in order for the Times article on tissue identification. As grim a subject as it is, it is also one of those modern miracles that seem to make life more and more certain even as things like terrorism make it less certain. We are reared to want to see the physical bodies of our dead, or at least to have definitive news about them. The trauma of not knowing seems to be a part of our early education -- one most people cannot get past until they have some kind of proof of death. Even twenty years ago, it would not have been possible to identify people from a bit of flesh and a hair taken from a person's hairbrush. In the midst of so much mahem in the world, we also live in a wonderful age in many other respects.

I will try to find you something about Hillel. But I do not think there is anything like a real biography. He is most famous for the Golden rule, and I believe he was pre-Jesus, but perhaps I am wrong about that. I expect the Jewish encyclopedia would have everything that is known about him, but I do not have access to one in English, and my Hebrew is rudimentary. Perhaps I can persuade one of my English students to do a report for me from their encyclopedias at school. Another thought is to look on the net and see if Comptons or Britannica have a free information service...

I am suffocating with work just now, but I will manage by the end of the week, I hope, to come up with some kind of information.

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