We asked Nation readers to share their 9/11 stories with us. Here are the first four.
Steven Henry, Burnsville, Minnesota
I was a sophomore in college. The day after 9/11, I went to a Bible study group with my girlfriend (I’d promised to go before the attacks happened). The facilitator took us to the Book of Revelation, and started talking about how God punished people for unbelief, and how America was being judged by God. I was pretty upset by this, as we’d just been hearing about the firefighters and police who had sacrificed their lives trying to help people, and the other victims who’d just been living their everyday lives. Then someone in the group said something about Muslims being evil. The facilitator replied that they weren’t necessarily evil, just misinformed, which made them vulnerable to being used by the forces of evil.
My mother was a missionary in Egypt during the ‘60s. She told me about the gardener at the mission school, who was over 60. He had a “mark of the Prophet” on his forehead from touching the ground in prayer five times a day, his whole life. She told me of a friend who left her purse on a bus. Two weeks later, getting onto the same bus, she met a Muslim man who gave her the purse, saying he’d seen her leave it but couldn’t get it to her, so he’d ridden that bus at that time every day since in the hope of being able to return it.
I got so angry at the blind hatred and lies in that room, I was shaking and felt physically ill. I’ve never been so angry in my life—and it wasn’t the terrorists I was angry at. Then, later, I just felt sad and tired. I was just 19, but I grew a lot older in those first few days.
Gregory Near, Detroit, Michigan
Within three months following 9/11 I lost my job at a museum due to reduced audience attendance. I went on to start my own business, which was moderately successful at first. However, the economy began to falter and business began to suffer. My current income is about half of what it once was. My health insurance has gone up 25 to 40 percent each year to the point where I can almost no longer afford it. All the while our government becomes more and more dysfunctional. At 56 I am losing hope for ever finding steady employment and find myself becoming more and more angry toward my government, which seems to have lost all moral connection to the poor and middle class. I view my future as one serious illness away from bankruptcy and homelessness.