September 11, 2011, will mark the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America. While choosing not to give a moment’s more thought to the hate that drove a group of people to do such things, I know I will never forget the acts of heroism exhibited that day.
Like so many others, the attacks themselves have always had a profound effect on me. In my case, I believe this is because I happened to be out of the country and so far from home at the time. Enjoying a highly anticipated Baltic cruise with my mother, we were on an excursion touring Berlin when the tour guide and bus driver began speaking in hushed tones. A fellow traveler who spoke German informed us that America was under attack. The World Trade Centers were gone, the Pentagon sustained severe damage, and a passenger jet had nosedived into a field in southwestern Pennsylvania. As I sat there listening, I thought these attacks were not possible. With all of our defense measures, how could this have happened?
Not only did the tour operators refuse to answer any questions, they continued with the tour as if nothing horrific had happened. It was not until we arrived at the train station for the ride back to the port that I understood the reason behind their actions. Fearing that we, as Americans, would be targets, German soldiers bearing assault rifles lined our short walk from the tour bus to the train. Standing at attention, staring straight ahead, not one of the soldiers met my worried gaze. In that moment, it all came crashing down on me. It was true. Jetliners like the one my mother and I would be boarding in a few days time were used as weapons against the country I loved. Absorbing the magnitude of what had happened, my grief turned to anger as my pride in being an American took over.
While writing my novel, Spur of the Moment, I specifically chose New York City as a destination for my heroine, Bronwyn Chase. Albeit small, it was the only way I could write a scene in which my character pays her respects to those lost that day. To the reader it is but a small mention in a lengthy book. To me, it is a heartfelt tribute for what America and its people stand for. You can bend us, disrespect and dislike us, but you can never break us.
Candace Bowen Early
September 2, 2011