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Jan 21, 2018
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Although it was and is disturbing and emotional, I would suggest watching a 9/11 documentary today.

It really puts current affairs in perspective.

I?m left sad and angry. This is something we should never forget.

Please leave politics out of this thread. Difficult to do I know.


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Same here rarely does day go by I don't think of 9/11.


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Remember that day well, stared to hear the news reports coming in.
Walking towards the office trailer and having this overwhelming feeling of being totally useless.
I went into the office and the Mrs got up and we hugged.
Still today this changed the world as we knew it.

Least we not forget.


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Tears come to my eyes every time I pause to remember this human travesty.
Hands down the most traumatic event in my lifetime.

gold tramp

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Dec 30, 2012
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Remember those on flight 93, gave there lives saving our Nations Capital.
Such a sad day...


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I'll never forget. These past 20 years have been time my friend Ben and I almost didn't have and we are thankful of surviving every day. I am posting my account of our experiences in the WTC on 9/11/2001 to honor those that lost their lives and those who carry scars from that day. Many thanks to the professor who encouraged me to share my story ten years ago. I wrote the account shortly afterward but it sat in my journal for a decade until I was ready to share it. Sorry I'm a little late but I just saw this post and thought I'd share with the group.

I had recently broken up with my college sweetheart in Florida, thrown what possessions I could fit into my Honda and headed to mom’s house on the Eastern shore to get my life back together. My good friend Ben W. had gotten word that I was home and calls me up a day later.
“Hey man, how would you like to go to New York to visit my brothers with me? I’d love the company.” For the first time in years I feel like I am getting back to my roots. Ben and Dan and Rob really promote personal expression and I know a trip with them is just what my soul needs after the wringing out I had had with the breakup. I fill up a large camping backpack with socks, underwear, clothes of all sorts and tie as many buckets as I can onto the pack’s straps.
We formulate a plan which called for me to meet Ben on the road, leave my car and go with him in his car to my uncle’s house in Hoboken. We arrive in fading twilight to the sounds of cicadas and crickets filling the night air with their insect music. From there we hustle to the PATH train. It dawns on me, en route, that I am way over packed. My bag is nearly as big as I am! I feel like one of those World War paratroopers, waddling along with all sorts of gear hanging off the backpack straps. We hop the PATH train into NYC and rumble under the Hudson arriving in the North towers massive underbelly, an elaborate complex of subway junctions punctuated with an underground mall. We arrive at approximately ten pm Sept 5th. Most of the shops are closed. I had been hoping to go to the roof and get an eyeful of the NY skyline, and to bust out on the buckets and busk a bit. I love the rich acoustics of buckets in the subway. Funfortunately the buckets have to wait. There is hardly a soul in the subway and we are in a hurry to meet our collected crew. Ben turns to me and in a hushed voice says,
“This is the building the terrorists bombed in 93’.”
There was much talk of such things at the Woolsey household growing up. Ben’s dad was the head of the CIA, responsible for the daily briefing to the president.
We stand in silent awe a moment. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the people standing here when the blast went off. It seems distant now, eight years later. We proceed to our train and head uptown for an entertaining night of debauching. At first I’m a little down but the joyous atmosphere of our party rubs off on me. We laugh and joke into the small hours. Dan mentions he has a video camera and we start making plans to make a video we refer to as “Bucketman”. In the video, Bucketman, played by me, does percussion in the subway and the WASP, played by Ben, steals his tips at every turn, forcing Bucketman to confront him and do battle. I put forth the idea of doing the final confrontation at the World Trade Center, and the boys are into it.
Our time passes quickly in the bustling city. There is so much to do and so many friends to see, not to mention filming in the breaks in between. The night of the 10th looms up to cast a shadow on our production. We’re sleeping at Ben’s brother Dan’s place in Brooklyn. I am hoping we can squeeze in the planned shoot at the World Trade Center but Ben’s girlfriend is flying into Reagan National at 6 pm the next day, September 11th and that’s all he can focus on.
Ben’s brother Dan comes in to say goodnight. Ben outlines the itinerary for the next day. “The plan is to get up early, go to the North Tower accompanied by our videographer Dan, where we will film a final scene of project “Bucket Man”. In the scene Tom’s playing buckets in the subway and I put a bucket over his head and steal his tips. Then it’s on to the PATH train, back to the car in Newark, and on to Reagan Natl’ to pick up my girlfriend Sharon.”
“What about the rooftop?” I ask. I have always wanted to go to the roof of the WTC and see the New York skyline.
“We’ll have to see. I just don’t think we’ll have time tomorrow.” He says.
With that we hit the sheets. We get up bright and early and pack up. Dan loads up his camera bag and we all schlep our bags down to the Brooklyn terminal. The three of us stop in for breakfast and coffee at a little diner. Just as we’re walking down into the metro Dan’s cell rings. He talks to the caller for a minute. Then addresses us,
“Lucky thing I’ve got all my camera gear with me. That was a modeling agency uptown. They’re offering me some photography work. Sorry guys, I gotta’ take these gigs when I can, so “Bucket Man” will have to wait.”
Dan does freelance photography now and then. I’m disappointed but try not to show it. Just then a train pulls up.” Guys that’s your train, put the hustle on if you want to make it.”
We run down the escalator and slip through the train doors just before they close. We find our seats and in a few moments I’m nodding in and out, trying to stay awake. An attractive girl with a big portfolio takes the seat next to me. We engage in a conversation about her art, but she is reluctant to open the portfolio. She studies my gargantuan bag, which is hogging up the bulk of two seats and inquires about the buckets tied to the pack. I begin to tell her about “Bucket man.” She seems less than impressed.
“Come on Tom. This is our stop!” Ben interrupts, and I’m thankful to disengage from the conversation.
We exit the train and the first thing I notice is how empty the stop is. I was expecting a bustling epicenter of commuters and commerce, raring for a little bucket busking. As far as I could see the only people were maybe two or three other people from our train, and in a moment we are alone. It also seems darker than usual, as though they don’t have all the lights on. Ben ushers me upstairs to the PATH train terminal, where the same scene of silent solitude awaits. To add to our confusion there is “Police line Do Not Cross” tape blocking the turnstiles for the train. We look to one another and begin scanning the area to ask someone what the holdup is about. Finally someone appears near the ticket window and we approach him.
“What are you guys doing here! This area is supposed to be cleared!” He yells out, waving us toward the escalator. This makes my ears perk up, and my mind kicks into ‘journalist mode.’ I start firing questions at him- “What happened? Did the Path train derail? Anybody hurt? How long-“
“Evacuate the building now!” Comes his curt response, and by his tone we can tell he’s not fooling around. We proceed to the escalator. It’s not running, and there are two very heavyset women with a kid in a stroller blocking the bottom.
“Lord have mercy, how do they expect us to get this stroller and this child up all them steps? Its crazy!” The mother says to her companion.
“Need a hand?” I ask. The mother studies me and my bag of buckets for a moment, her head cocked slightly to the side as though I had just informed her that I was newly arrived from Mars and would like to hold a baby earthling.
“No thank you, we’re fine.” She says. After considerable delay the mother takes the child out of the stroller and the companion drags the stroller bumping and jostling slowly and precariously up the steps, pausing every few feet to catch her breath. Ben and I wait patiently at the bottom so as not to add to their irritation.
Once they get close to the top Ben and I start up the escalator. I’m out of breath when we reach the corridor that leads out of the North Tower. The two ladies are nowhere to be seen. As my eyes adjust to the daylight ahead of me, it becomes apparent that things are very out of the ordinary. The first thing I notice is the huge cylinder standing on end in between us and the South Tower. Its about the size of a cement truck. A ribbon of police caution tape cordons off a square around it. I don’t realize until much later I am looking at the turbine engine from one of the planes. Behind the cylinder I see people pressed up against the windows of the South Tower, pointing up toward the top of the North Tower. As we come to the mouth of the corridor, our field of vision widens, and we see the plaza is littered with blackened twisted debris. It’s hard to tell what I’m looking at, but I recognize the legs of a desk and what looks like the remains of a suit jacket among the rubble. Our forward progress is halted as a team of firemen loaded down with gear rushes past us and disappears into a stairway in the corridor. The last man in locks eyes with me for a split second and I see sweat running down his cheek. His jaw is set with a look of resignation on his face. Then they’re gone into the bowels of the immense building. I turn back toward the light and step out of the corridor, my neck craning back to follow the graceful lines of the south tower up, up, up until they are enveloped by black rolling smoke, orange tongues of fire licking at the edge. There are white papers floating lazily every which way like some sort of ghastly ticker tape parade. My heart races, my face burning with the rush of adrenaline and I realize not only is the South tower on fire, but above us the North tower is billowing smoke as well.
A terrifying smack on the pavement draws my attention to the left. Something has plummeted to earth on the other side of the fire truck parked maybe fifty feet away, narrowly missing several paramedics and firemen who are unloading.
I hear their anguished cries, “Damn! Damn! Move!”
My brain is reeling. I can’t fathom what is happening. The only lucid thought I have is ‘Did we just walk out onto a movie set?’
Ben claps a hand on my shoulder, “The terrorists! They’ve come back to New York!”
We are smack in the middle of the South side of the North Tower. I realize we are going to have to run the gauntlet of falling debris. We look to the right and it’s an impossibly long way to go. To the left toward the vehicles and the open space of the plaza seems like the right choice. Ben is already headed that way. I keep my eyes on him and follow his lead, trying to dodge the rubble, puddles and obstacles as we move past them. Though we’re rounding the southeast corner of the North Tower in a moment, it feels like we’re moving in slow motion. It is like in a nightmare where you can’t move quickly enough and you awaken with your legs tangled in the sheets. I keep hoping I’ll wake up but the nagging weight of my bag, the noise and calamity is all too real. We emerge from the confining space between the two buildings, into the plaza. There are people ahead of us. There is an immense sculpture off to our right. Finally we reach the first real street. There are no cars on the road and almost no cars parked within sight. Sirens scream as ambulances and fire trucks push through the crowded streets toward us. There’s a cop on the corner across from us directing the flow of human traffic.
“ Uptown, uptown! Everyone go uptown. Away from the towers!” A line of onlookers behind him stare transfixed at the Towers.
A figure breaks from the crowd toward the plaza. The officer whirls around and grabs the man by the collar. I’m close enough to reach out and touch them.
“You can’t go down there!”
“But- “ The man stops mid sentence, his eyes wide, mouth agape. Gasps and screams erupt from the crowd.
The cop points up over my shoulder toward the towers.
“Ruuun!” he commands.
The line of people who only a moment ago had been disregarding his commands whirls on their heels and pushes up Broadway into the human sea ahead. I look back over my shoulder, following the line of the officer’s arm. The top quarter of the South tower is tearing from its foundation and is canted toward us. The crowd in front of me surges forward like runners in a race at the crack of the starting gun. The rumble behind us is deafening. Ben is in front of me and the distance between us grows as he zigzags though the crowd. Fortunately he’s got his gym bag above his head to fit through the crowd. Hard as I’m pushing the corners of my bag are holding me, caught between the people to my right and left. My only thought is to drop the pack and win the race for survival. I tear at the straps and manage to release a few of the buckets, but the main straps, having been knotted together then pulled taught by my exertions, are impossible. In fact the crowd is practically pulling me along, and I have no control over the path I take. For a moment I’m running with one foot up on the side walk, one foot in the street, and have to dodge a few light poles and a trash can. The can is quivering, literally shaking with the force of the floors of the South tower impacting the ground. The sound is palpable now, its intensity pulsing, undulating as each story implodes onto the one below it, faster and faster into a nerve shattering roar. An older lady stumbles and goes down ahead of me to the right. I ready myself to pull her up as I’m dragged past but the people in her immediate vicinity pull her back onto her feet.
I’m the better part of the way down the first block when I dare to look back. What I see is a tidal wave, a fluid volcanic flow of debris shooting down the street right for us! It has engulfed the plaza and is cascading past the North Tower. The crowd behind us is thin, and a few people back at the bottom of the block on the other side of the street jump into doorways to escape being swallowed up. The stuff is practically boiling down the street. My only thought is, ‘run faster!’
I struggle to spot Ben. I think I spot his bag at the top of the block but I’m not sure.
A geyser of grey gas comes shooting out of the sewer in front of me! With the crowd thick around me I’m forced to go through it. I take a deep breath, hoping it’s not poisonous or caustic and plunge through its periphery. I come out the other side intact. I’m not sure if the people behind are pushing on me, if fear is propelling me, but I could practically feel the stuff shoving me from behind like a strong wind. I’m running faster than I’ve ever run in my life! Barreling into the intersection, I’m scanning the area where I last saw Ben. I’m about to break down, feeling if I lose him it’s all over for me. I’m scanning the path he would have taken up Broadway, but I see no gym bag. A few people are cutting left to get onto the side street. The dust is upon us now, washing everything out in a thick grey blanket. In a moment I won’t be able to see my own shoes. I look to the North corner and there’s someone scanning the crowd as it rushes by. He meets my gaze and thank god, here’s Ben, waiting for me.
“This way!” He commands. The dust comes swirling into the intersection on Broadway. Ben turns the corner and we cut west until we reach Merscher Street, which is less crowded. My legs are burning, my heart’s beating like a hammer in my chest. By the time we get to the next corner we’re sort of jogging. I’m on the verge of collapse.
“Hold up, hold up, I gotta slow down.” I’m panting. We walk for a moment. The enveloping dust is still creeping along behind us, but with the wind pulling it to the east it is thining out. I elbow my cumbersome bag. “I gotta learn to travel a little lighter! Dig into the side pockets here for a bottle of water.”
We pass it back and forth. Ben takes out his cell phone. “I’m going to call my parents and let them know we’re alive.” He presses the phone to his ear.
There’s a payphone up ahead of us with a line of people waiting to use it, but the line’s moving fast. I start groping in my pockets for change. Two people emerge out of the dust behind us and come into view. The woman catches my eye first. She’s a very attractive lady, dirty blonde in a business suit skirt and form fitting jacket. She’s not very dusty. What catches my eye are her legs. She’s got at least one long gash across her leg which is going to need some serious stitches, with blood running down from it and a few smaller wounds.
“Lady, you better sit down.” I say, gesturing to her leg. She looks like she’s been stressed past the point of dissociation and shows no sign of stopping. Some other people notice her. An authoritative bespectacled gentleman steps forward and takes charge.
“We need something clean to press on that wound!” He says to the crowd and a packet of tissues is produced. “
There’s a hospital up the street.” The gentleman says to her. She seems to be just now taking notice of her wounds.
“I have to get home…” She says and the rest is lost as she is ushered in the direction of the hospital.
Ben’s getting no service on the cell phone. Another man who has come through the thick of the dust has caught up. He looks like he’s been rolled in flour. His shoes, pants, jacket, briefcase, face and hair are grey white. His glasses are so dusty he can hardly see out of them and he practically runs into us. Having grown up wearing bifocals I instinctively go to help him.
“ How can you see out of those? Here, wipe them on my shirt.” I say. He exposes his slightly less dismal undershirt, wipes them, then I take them. His eyes are red and bleary. I put a few drops of water on my shirt to clean the glasses more thoroughly. He studies the bottle ravenously. “Here.” I hand it to him, feeling rude to not offer.
He tips his head back and pours the water into his eyes to wash out the grit, then swishes the last bit in his mouth. “Thanks. I’m Jim. Jim McMahon.”
He sticks his hand out and we shake. “Tom Buckets. Nice to meet you. ” I say
Its my turn at the phone. I slap the change into the slot, put the receiver to my ear and there are already people on the phone. A lot of people all talking at once, saying “hello, hello, Suzan? Olah, e Pablo estas? Who is this? Hello, hello?” The lines must be crossed, the system is down. I push the change return and try to push my finger into the slot but the door is already blocked by all the change that people have left behind. I absent mindedly hand the phone to the guy behind me as Ben approaches.
“I couldn’t get through.” Ben says, holding up his phone.
“Me neither, we’re cut off. We gotta make it up to Union Square. My cousin’s in the dorm up there and we’ve got other friends there as well.” I remind Ben. He nods. Up ahead near a big construction bin some people are gathered around a radio. Its loud blaring becomes audible. “. . . Reports are pouring in from all over but information is spotty right now, but it seems that at least one aircraft has struck the World Trade Center. The Pentagon has also been struck by an aircraft which is believed to have been a commuter jet. . . “
Ben is wide eyed, the color draining from his face. “My dad is supposed to be at a meeting at the Pentagon.” He says to me.
The whispering scream of an aircraft engine perforates the air.
“Here comes another one!” Somebody yells. People run for cover. Ben and I crouch beside the bin. My mind reels with what I just heard. I crane my neck skyward and see a blue streak overhead.
“F-18. It’s one of ours!” One of the construction guys yells. I breathe a sigh of relief.
A guy in a suit comes out of a building and yells out in the direction of the payphone- “If you’re trying to use the phone we have an open line in here. You’re welcome to come in and use it.”
Ben and I look to the man, then to each other and we’re on our way. Ben goes up the stairs into the building first. The security guy lets Ben past, but jumps up when he sees me.
“Stop! What are you doing here?”
“Sorry. I’m with him, “I say gesturing to Ben. “The man outside said we could use the phone.”
“Oh, I just seen you tearing in here with that big bag , . .You look a little… I’m just not taking any chances.” He says and resumes his perch on a stool.
Ben is seated at a bench with a row of phones. There are several benches with more phones. There are massive computer banks, wires snaking into tight bundles and crisscrossing the room.
I pick up a phone and there’s the old familiar dial tone. I punch in the number and the phone lady responds. “All circuits are busy. . . Please try your call again later.”
I get the same answer on my second try. Third try and the phone is ringing! My exhilaration is quickly dashed when I get the machine. ‘Figures, World War Three and my folks don’t answer.’ I snicker to myself. I leave a rambling message, something to the effect of- “Hey ma, Ben and I are fine. If you could call his parents and see how they are and tell them everybody’s all right, that’d be great. We’re going to keep moving uptown to Union Square since the fires are spreading and all the fire trucks and all the stuff is wrecked. I’ll call you when I can. Love ya’. I hope you’re ok.”
We come out of the building and everyone’s looking downtown. My heart sinks as I realize there is nothing visible left of the South Tower.
“Look there goes another one.” Someone says. I once again strain my eyes and see a tiny form plummet from a window high on the North tower. A lady with a stylish brimmed hat turns her head and crosses herself. A man with a video camera tracks the figure from the building to the ground. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. A moment later the same voice calls out- “There go two at a time. They look like they’re holding hands.” The lady beside me is wringing her hands, tears coming down.
“Oh my God! Oh my God. What have we done?”
Another man approaches the cameraman, who is eating up the horrific scene unfolding in front of us with his lens. I figure he’s going to say something about human decency, but instead he says, “I work for NBC. I need that camera. How much do you want for it?”
The cameraman unflinchingly films the horror unfolding, “Nah man I got footage, I got lots of good footage on this tape.” He says.
“Eight thousand, how’s eight thousand sound? Company check.” The agency man produces his checkbook and is waving it in the man’s face.
“I was thinking more like . . . “
The man whispers in the agents ear, and he begins scribbling on the checkbook. I feel like I’m going to barf and have to resist the urge to scream at the two men. We meander back toward the radio. We pause to listen to the journalists describe the events that are unfolding live before us. I see the agent with the camera way down the block running toward the beacon of smoke, dust and ash. Then the North Tower lets loose a rumbling bellow and begins to unravel, imploding one story into the next! ‘Boom Boom Boom Boom Boomboombobbobooom’ into a constant thunderous rumble. The last thing I see makes it look as though a small portion of the building remains standing at the base. Then the surge of dust blocks everything out again.
The woman in the hat is sobbing into her hands. A wave of woeful gasps, screams and shrieks surround me. Instinctively we resume our trek uptown. We come to a beautiful brick building which look s like a school of some sort. There are the first trees I’m aware of seeing. They seem particularly beautiful today. The people in the brick building have flung open their doors. They have tables out by the street with rows of cups of water. They are bandaging limbs, rinsing eyes, giving aid to those seeking refuge from the tempest of destruction that has enveloped the southern flank of Manhattan.
We pause for water at the booth. Ben asks where the hospital is.
“What are you doing? You hurt?” I ask him.
“No but I’m OO positive, the universal donor. It helps for transfusions. I’m going to give blood. I know they’re going to need it.”
“Something else we might need, money. I’d like to get some out of the machine if we see one.” I add.
Up the street the same scene repeats itself. New Yorkers, who strike me as generally armed with a sort of ‘better safe than sorry’ street savvy attitude toward total strangers, are throwing open their doors and are offering aid to people they don’t even know. A few blocks further up we find a bank machine with a line maybe twelve deep to make withdrawals. The guy three people in front of us is a dignified Middle Eastern man with a turban and beard. His turban coupled with his height makes him stand out. We are joined by two thick necked, red faced guys with city accents.
“You know who it is, it’s the f**king Arabs who did this. They’re gonna pay! Man they’re gonna pay!” The one guy says to the other. The other guy is not so loud spoken, but he’s helping to work the loud guy up to a boil. We’re trying to ignore them, as is the fellow in the turban who glances back nervously when they’re particularly loud or vulgar. They find an audience in a third man who comes up and affirms their boisterous claims. Then, like the leader of a wolf pack the loud guy surges up, snapping at the man with the turban- “You happy now, Muhammed? Eh Ackmed! You happy with what you did?” The man is pushing up on Ben and me, yelling and gesticulating in the direction of the cloud of smoke. No one is offering resistance, as though the rest of the herd is perfectly content to watch him be strung up as long as they are spared. I look to Ben and he springs to action.
“Look at this guy! Does he look like a threat to you? Does he look like the guy who did this?”
You can see the loud guy reeling a bit trying to come up with what he’s going to say, so I jump in too, to cut him off and help drown him out.
“This guys a New Yorker, same as the rest of us! And he’s scared, same as the rest of us. Now could we just have some peace while we’re waiting for the machine?”
Enough of the crowd voices their approval for the guy to back down, but he’s still audible behind us. After a few more tense minutes the guy with the turban is on his way, as are Ben and I. We stop by a pizzeria and order a slice. Everything inside is so ordinary looking that I feel like I’ve come out of the nightmare.
“How’s it going? I ask the guy behind the counter.
He stares at me incredulously for a moment.
“Terrible, absolutely terrible. My brother’s missing, along with most of his ladder company. I’m trying to think of what I’m going to say to his wife and kid. Everything is in the toilet, and I’m stuck here at work cause nobody else has come in so I can get outta here. . Sorry, I don’t mean to snap, but. . .”
He turns back to the oven with the slices and I feel like it would have been less obtrusive to kick myself in the head before putting my foot in my mouth. I sit down with Ben in silence, picking at the knots in my bag’s ties, working them loose. I close my eyes and see that firefighter’s face again, eyes fixed with the look of stolid determination, the sweat coming down. Could he have known, as he looked up at the fuming hulk of the Twin Towers, if today would be his last day? Did he think of his family, his wife, daughter, brother or sister as he started up? The corners of my eyes fill up and I try to think of something, anything else. Our pizza comes up but it’s hard to eat. After nibbling awhile we head up and reach our friends apartment. The entrance door is open, as is their apartment door. I am grateful to get my pack off and stow it. We tune into the news which is on every channel. Ben breathes a sigh of relief when his dad is mentioned on TV.
“My dad is on in ten minutes to give a press conference, so I guess he’s OK.”
This brings a much needed breath of levity into the atmosphere. Family members are being located and the pieces begin coming back together, although for many there are gaping holes where some are missing. After the conference, I walk Ben to the hospital. I’m prepared to give blood as well but the line is around the block. Ben mentions his double o status to someone at the triage center and he is immediately rushed to the front of the line.
“I’ll see you back at the place!” He yells over his shoulder and he’s off.
I mull about near the hospital until I locate my cousin’s dorm. He’s surprisingly easy to get a hold of on the phone at the security desk. We go up to the roof to get a look around. Salvaged vehicles are being hauled uptown, shedding a wake of dust behind them. Newly arrived polished fire trucks and ambulances stream downtown in their stead. Another plume of dust rises as a smaller building adjoining the Trade Center gives way and collapses. I’m exhausted and pretty soon I hunker down in the dorm as the news coverage drones on. A bottle is produced and passed around and the conversation turns to what the future will bring. War is the key word. We offer a prayer for those that died and a prayer that war will not be the outcome. Later that night as a retaliatory cruise missile strike is reported we realize our sophomoric stance.


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Aug 16, 2013
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Thank you for that account from first hand experience. It helps all of us to see a little better in a difficult world.

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