Reaction to September 11

This is Mary Tillotson. And this is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program EXPLORATIONS. One year ago, the United States suffered the worst terrorist attack in American history. There are many stories being told about that day and its effects. Today, we will tell about messages from some of you, our listeners. We will also tell how one company is dealing with the effects of September eleventh.

One year ago, Islamist terrorists hijacked two passenger airplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York City. The two huge buildings were destroyed. Another hijacked plane struck and damaged the Defense Department headquarters near Washington, D.C. Still another hijacked plane crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The events of September eleventh did not only affect Americans. The attacks united people around the world in sympathy for the families and friends of those who were killed. Millions of people in all areas of the world were touched by the events of that terrible day.

People who were not Americans were also killed in the attacks. The media company C-N-N keeps records of the victims of the attacks. Almost five-hundred foreigners were among the more than three-thousand people who lost their lives September eleventh. They were citizens of at least thirteen foreign countries. They were in the World Trade Center and on the airplanes that crashed.

Soon after the attacks, expressions of sympathy from all around the world reached those of us working in VOA Special English. Hundreds of letters and e-mails offered support for the American people and denounced terrorism. We received messages such as this one from France: "Deeply in my heart, I am American now. I pray for all the victims as if they were cherished friends."

Listeners of many cultures and religions wanted to express their sympathy. One listener wrote: "I'm Egyptian and Muslim. I want to say that all Egyptians (Muslims, Christians and Jews) condemn these killings. God help you, God help America."

A listener in Somalia wrote, "We extend our heartfelt sympathy to you during this period of hellish tragedy that occurred to the American people in [the] New York and Washington attack."

One listener in Costa Rica wrote reminding us that courage and wisdom cannot be separated: "…Have for the present courage in front of the sadness, and a great wisdom when you will answer your enemies."

Still others pointed to the important ideas that America represents to them. A listener in Cambodia wrote us: "It's an important fact that the two buildings and a part of the Pentagon have already fallen … but … democracy is still alive and even getting stronger."

Some listeners who have experienced the effects of terrorism offered advice.

A listener in Spain wrote that the United States should "try not to cause suffering to civilian populations, because the medicine will be worse than the sickness." He said that the Spanish people have an understanding of terrorism from thirty years of fighting the separatist group ETA.

One listener in England wrote: "I know you…will have thousands of messages like this but, as a victim of I-R-A attacks, I know what it feels like. My prayers are with your country tonight."

Terrorist attacks are not new, but the huge size of the September eleventh event was something never seen before. Many people from very different cultures wrote saying they felt a new connection with Americans.

A listener in China wrote: "I am shocked at the news about the terrorist attacks. I am really worried about many citizens' lives. They and I may be strangers to each other, but we are human beings with the same feelings, life, and love of the world."

Radio, television and the press throughout the world covered every detail of the attacks and their results. Video recordings of the World Trade Center buildings burning and then falling were broadcast continuously for a long time — even days after the events.

New York City and Washington, D-C, are among the largest media centers in the world. This meant that the attacks and their effects were broadcast to the whole world as they were happening.

The pictures and descriptions affected almost everyone who saw them. Many messages from listeners offered friendship and support that helped us get through a difficult time.

A listener in Tajikistan wrote, "It was really horrible to hear that bad news about the crashes of planes and buildings in New York and about the death of thousands of people. Please accept our deep feelings and sympathy. We are with you dear friends!!!"

The World Trade Center not only represented American economic power, but also international business cooperation. Businesses and governments of many countries had offices in the World Trade Center. The attack affected people all over the world not only economically, but personally.

The greatest loss of life on September eleventh was not among a group of rescue workers. It was a business. Cantor Fitzgerald occupied five floors in the north building of the World Trade Center. Those floors were hit almost directly by American Airlines Flight Eleven, a passenger airplane that carried about ninety people.

Cantor Fitzgerald is a financial company. It trades certain investments. It creates money-making instruments that are highly complex. Cantor Fitzgerald also has developed services to trade what are called "greenhouse gas credits." These kinds of credits are required by the international environmental agreement, the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. The credits are traded among countries that have agreed to the Kyoto Protocol. The United States is not one of them.

The most recent reports show that six-hundred-fifty-eight workers at Cantor Fitzgerald were killed on September eleventh. About one-thousand people worked for the company in its New York offices. The business could have failed because of the loss of sixty-five percent of its employees. However, the chairman of the company, Howard Lutnick, and other officials wanted everyone to know that the company had survived the attack and still was strong.

In May of this year, Cantor Fitzgerald started a television campaign. The four-million dollar campaign was meant to show that the company was open for business. In it, current employees and survivors of the September eleventh attacks spoke about the event and its effects.

The television campaign shows how the workers at Cantor Fitzgerald want to move to the future by connecting with the past. Each brief television presentation shows an employee explaining his or her reaction to the loss of friends.

The Cantor Fitzgerald employees seem to express the need to continue on with life even after experiencing a tragic event. In one presentation, employee Chris Crosby says, "Everyone who I lost would have said 'go to work.'" Phil Marber says the victims he worked with would demand that the survivors move forward. He says, "Every single one of them would have wanted us to be rebuilding." Joe Noviello says, "There is only one thing that we could do…restore what is ours."

Some people have criticized Cantor Fitzgerald for using the September eleventh attack as part of a television campaign. However, the company says it has made a great effort to help support the families of the victims by providing health care and sharing profits. The company says it also is trying to make sure that it is successful in the future.

The television campaign by Cantor Fitzgerald shows survivors dealing with the tragic events of one year ago. It is part of a national effort to move to the future.

Many of the stories about the September Eleventh attacks and their worldwide effects are evidence of some of the best human qualities. The employees of Cantor Fitzgerald showed how human nature seeks to return to normal. They decided that returning to work was the best way they could honor their friends who died in the attack.

Messages from Special English listeners show the strong links between people of different countries, religions and cultures. A listener in China expressed it this way, "I think all our world is a big family, so we should live peacefully."

This Special English program was written by Mario Ritter and produced by George Grow. This is Steve Ember. And this is Mary Tillotson. Listen again next week for another EXPLORATIONS program on the Voice of America.

Voice of America Special English

Source: EXPLORATIONS - September 11, 2002: Reaction to September 11
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