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Surprise Attack
By Jeff Griffith

It was a beautiful morning. The weather was sunny, in the 80s, with a nice breeze coming off the water. Suddenly, America's innocence was suspended by a shocking display of treachery that stunned us all. The attackers gave us all the information we needed prior to the event, but we still felt that it could never happen to us. Fingers immediately pointed to our military officials and government higher-ups, who should have seen the evidence. Instantly, all Americans rose to the occasion, rushing to help the cause and looking to our leaders to provide comfort and guidance. The President spoke to the nation in a resolute manner that the evil-doers would be punished, and Americans applauded tearfully from their homes praying for a swift ending.

Ironically, this was not September 11, 2001, but December 7, 1941—60 years ago. Ironic, isn't it, that we thought, once again, America was invincible? We assumed we couldn't be touched or harmed on our own soil—except this time, we all watched it happen right before our very eyes on television. The WWII generation has spoken about where they were on December 7, and similarly our generation will tell where they were in September 2001. I was sleeping in that day, but awoken by a call from my brother in Milwaukee, who heard the news on the radio. After turning on the television set, I raced upstairs to the roof and watched in silence as a mere 20 blocks south of my home, two immense structures came down as if a part of a careful demolition. No one spoke on the roof, everyone just gasped in stunned amazement and tried frantically to contact their loved ones to find out their whereabouts with cell phones that didn't work.

There are no words to describe what I saw. My good friend Tracy lives two blocks from Ground Zero and witnessed people jumping to their deaths outside his window that morning while he rushed to pack his belongings for an unplanned four-week stay at another friend's apartment. We have yet to discuss the events in detail. Perhaps, like the veterans who watched the USS Arizona sink in seconds at Pearl Harbor or the Oklahoma "turtle" with hundreds still alive inside, it will take him decades to detail the horror he has seen.

It's a sad irony we have to relive these terrible moments again and again, but even sadder that we relive the mistakes of our past, believing ourselves impervious to attack. Understanding history teaches us not to repeat it. Many years from now, when your grandchildren say, "that could never happen to us," do them a favor and tell them where you were that warm September day in 2001. Perhaps it will change their minds.


Behind in your reading?
Check out past ATOMIC features.

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1999 Articles List
2000 Articles List
2001 Articles List
2002 Articles List
2003 Articles List
2004 Article List
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Surprise Attack
For the Love of Tiki
Bob Thompson: Return of a Space Age Swinger
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