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The Worst Disaster
By Cassandra Burton

     Each day I marvel at the beautiful sky, clouds and clean air as I live life in the Northern Neck, or God’s Country, as it’s called. As I drove on Tuesday, September 11, to a board meeting, listening to my car radio, I heard news of what was occurring in New York and Washington. It was like a bad dream. Stunned, I sat in my car and listened as I reached my destination. 

     As a child growing up in Northern New Jersey, only 20 miles from New York or the “City”, we had not only fire drills but air raid drills. We went to the school basement to practice seeking shelter for we knew if New York were ever hit we would feel the effects. 

     The effects are what my family members felt on Tuesday. My youngest sister spoke of watching the plane hit and her disbelief. The smoke, the sirens, of how eerie the streets were in Northern New Jersey later that day as people stayed in. Tents were set up at the local hospitals to care for the massive influx of injured persons who were being brought across the river by boat. 

     Each day, as we’ve talked, I have questioned if things were better. All she could say was how bad things are; smoke could still be seen; people are badly shaken. Many either know people who work in the city or have family members who do, or are missing. Streets were closed, tents in hospital parking lots. A bucket squad that was removing debris by passing buckets looking for any possible evidence or clues. 

     Knowing that a cousin worked in the city, I was relieved to finally hear from him; but he was frantic searching to find his only child, who was a student at NYU. Once together they had no way to leave the city until the next day.

     A dear friend‘s daughter attends school in New York City. She also saw the building hit by the plane and is badly shaken by seeing the hit and then, later, the collapse of the Twin Towers. As a senior she had hopes of staying in New York and working after graduation.

     The air quality is so bad that those with asthma and respiratory problems are feeling the effects. I called and invited my brother to come down, but for now, he wants to stay indoors with the windows shut. 
I heard stories of the single parents who were not able to pick their children up from day care; I heard of all the children being picked up except one child at a center. The story of a cousin’s ex-wife, who worked at the Pentagon, and is in the hospital in poor condition; my cousin’s seven year old son is devastated. 

     My daughter in Maryland was extremely upset. When she drove to pick up her children from school, she had no problem at the elementary school; for the middle school child it would take hours for her to come home. Her school is on Ft Meade and the base had been closed and the school had a bomb scare. Nothing was going in or coming out and that included the children. Needless to say we did not relax until she was home. She will long remember this day. 

     All day long our children called long distance they just needed to hear our voices and we theirs. The next hour or day is not promised. 

     The violence that has been shown on the TV and movies has become reality. It’s time we cease feeding our children a steady diet of violence and teach them to love rather than hate. For when we hate we become like the one we hate. We must learn to love our enemy and to love each other. We must break down the barriers that separate us and come together as a country. We must learn to think before we act. We must realize that “Stuff” is not important but old fashioned values of God, Family and community are. Games must once again be played for fun, not with parents so uptight at children’s games that persons are lying to win. The lying and cheating must stop. People must go back to the time when your word meant something. 
Call me Old Fashioned, but it’s time to turn our country around. It’s time we take time to get to know our neighbors and, for some, also their children. We must all realize this is “Our” Country. and it is only as great as each of us working together. 

     I’m proud to be an American.  

© 2001 Cassandra Burton All Rights reserved.


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