As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Memories and Thoughts of 9/11

I just wanted to write something to give you all a chance to express how you feel on this day or to share a memory of what you experienced ten years ago.

I was the White House reporter for a publication called CongressDaily, but my experience was little different than that of many others.

I had an article due and had made an unusual decision not to go into the White House during the morning, but to finish it up at home and then head over a little later. I had just returned from the gym and turned on the TV, I think just after the first plane hit the North Tower. After the second plane hit, I called my editor but was told to stay at home, since it would be impossible to get into the White House, and Bush was in Florida.

So I watched it on TV, in disbelief.

Viewing the ceremonies this morning, long afterward, the disbelief of course is gone. Some of the anger remains. But mostly for me there is sadness. So much was lost, so much grief and death inflicted upon us, just so that people of pure evil could vent their resentment and rage at the United States in the most graphic way they could think of.

What they got instead for their efforts was a reminder of why the United States is the greatest nation in the history of the earth. A nation of resilience, compassion and love – and of indomitable determination to bring justice to its enemies. We are slow to anger, but when roused, we are still fearsome.

And a nation blessed by God. That’s what our enemies found out, whether they learned it in this life or the next.

Please, if you’d like, share with us your experiences and thoughts.

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49 Responses to Memories and Thoughts of 9/11

  1. While I, too, was struck by the horror and sadness of the terrorist attacks, what affected me the most was what happened after 9/11. I had a job that took me through many small towns from coast to coast and the sight of the American flag hanging from every porch, every telephone pole and off the antennas of cars and pickup trucks was awesome. Americans showed their love of America with the waving flags and their sympathy for the families and friends of those killed by donating millions of dollars to help ease their pain.
    The bravery and dedication of the “second” responders brought tears to my eyes as they sifted through the debris looking for anyone still alive or for bodies and then just body parts. When it seemed there were no surviviors and body parts were scarce, the realization that thousands of humans were reduced to ash and the surviving families had nothing to bury made their suffering all the worse.
    I can’t watch any more reenactments of the planes hitting the towers, I only have to close my eyes to see it all over again.

  2. I am being a punk and not reading and watching much of this…It’s too much for me. But since you ask, I was writing for CBS HealthWatch…I had an interview with a doc in a hosp near there that morning, which obviously never happened… Right there, a few blocks away. I remember they ended up not being very busy–people had basically disappeared, gone, and were not “hurt” as such. The HealthWatch site went dark. Now what? I had a fam to support…no one could be contacted…so I started writing stories–on how to use items on a plane (pen etc) to stop someone…how to tell your kids…how to keep yourself sane…security experts lined up to talk to me…I had no assignments, I just did it and sent them off–I did get paid without
    a word…another writer said how did you get that work? I said I assigned it to myself. Some of it was pretty pretentious–I remember quoting Gerard Manly Hopkins…

    I cleaned the house and cleaned the house, over and over. It could use it now.

  3. Thank you for this personal reflection, Keith … and the opportunity for us to add our thoughts. I’ll be at Mass today, our Priest is preaching a “barn burner” on the virtue of Patriotism (a part of Justice), and the dangers of “cosmopolitanism” (all our current “pc” junk and let’s all just be friends with islam) …. I started today out sad and reflective, and a bit angry … then I read this excellent article (from the UK press, of course) … and scrolled through the photos … contrasted with the tenderness and respect of Pres and Mrs Bush, Clinton and the Bidens, is the photo of the two Zeros at Arlington Cemetery yesterday … she in casual slacks and sleeveless blouse, he in slacks, jacket and no necktie … now I’m furious beyond words … being a librarian and fact-checker by trade, I did some research … obama often goes without neckties … I no longer think it’s just an “I’m a casual kind of guy thing” … I think it’s an “I’m a muslim” thing … apparently neckties are “haram” in islam … a holdover/symbol of the Cross worn by Christian crusaders …

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2036096/9-11-ANNIVERSARY-Leaders-tears-America-begins-ceremonies-remember.html

    • I agree Arlington is not the place for the President & First Lady wear
      casual picnic wear! She was bad at Arlington and today in that sleeveless backless dress looked she was on her way to a cocktail party. Yes they were stepping on graves. Those vapidly stupid women who follow her wardrobe are chattering away at how wonderful
      she looks are you kidding me? On the anniversary of 3000 deaths are they that devoid of any kind of respect or sence of reality? Some of the comments in the Daily Mail are cruel and heartless.

  4. I live in a small rural town in central West Virginia. I like to say that we’re not in the middle of nowhere, but equidistant from anywhere.

    That morning I was walking to my parents house and an acquainance rode by on his bike and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I thought it must be a small private plane and was an accident. With my parents I learned differently.

    When the first building fell I knew the second was doomed. It was a matter of waiting, and then the dust boiled out of the tower and the roof seems to slide downward without effort, straight down into the city streets.

    I hope to gather strength today and go to You Tube and search for the 911 calls from people trapped in the towers. Nothing brings back the horror of that day and the terrible loss, nothing brings it back so clearly as hearing 911 operators attempting to cheer and reassure people whom they had to know were doomed. Such kindness, such an exertion of humanity, and then the calls end with a roar of sound.

    Once I visited the Towers and had nightmares for years afterwards. I dreamt that I was on the roof of one builidng and looking across at the slightly lower roof of the other. A strong wind, natural to a building of that height, swept across the open area and I feared that I would be blown off my patch of concrete and into the air. Was this some kind of premonition? The dreams stopped after the disaster. Reality had given me something more terrible than my dreaming imagination.

  5. We had been on a “fly-away” exercise the weekend before, so we had been given Monday off. It was the first day back to work. The first tower was hit while I was driving to work and they announced it on the radio. When I arrived, I was told that the second tower had been hit. There were reports of a plane hitting the Pentagon and a car bomb outside the State Department. For the rest of the day, I sat in a small office on Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah, GA watching things I could scarcely believe.

    I would like to thank the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 for their service to the country.

  6. This is going to sound terrible, but …
    Like everything in life, no event a person like a direct impact. No question that the people who worked at the Pentagon during the airplane hit, took the war seriously, like a quest. I still don’t believe that over half the people in Congress don’t believe the threat to us and the rest of the world by radical Islamist. I think the Islamist are lucky they didn’t hit the Capital building, because we have yet to address this threat correctly. Is there any question that if flight 93 hit and destroyed the capital building, we would have taken this war seriously. Is there any question, unlike the twin towers, the capital building would have been rebuilt by now.
    What were our parents and grand parents doing on December 11, 1951? I doubt they were wondering if Japan was going to hit us again.

  7. I was driving to Bible Study that morning and had the news on in the car. After the second plane hit, what was not being said yet, but what was obvious, was that this was on purpose. I felt terror, and I knew before it was said on the news, that this was terrorism hitting home. It is the kind of event that makes you immediately do an inventory of your loved ones whereabouts. I had a new baby and I wanted to go home to her. I needed to know that my parents were safe. I was relieved my husband worked from home. I tried to remember my sister’s business travel plans for the day. I didn’t understand how serious it was until later, when everything imploded. I said to myself, “the stories are going to come out. We are going to hear the stories soon.” And it started with the missing posters people started hanging up in NY. Ever since that day, I have held on a little tighter to my priorities. I long for a national leader that will make us safe, as safe as a human being can make us – someone with a warrior heart. I can’t imagine the current president doing anything to make us feel hopeful if this event had happened on his watch. I’m sorry, I just can’t.

  8. I am certain that on that September day there were angels among us, and I would imagine that they too wept…

    I’m a big strong guy, but I am not the least bit bothered to tell you, I wept, from anger, from compassion, from a feeling of total helplessness, and yes, even fear, not fear for myself, but fear for my family and their immediate safety…

    I was 1,500 miles from home that day and all I could think of was getting home to my wife and making sure my children were safe, and I couldn’t do that…

    None of us knew what the future held, we still don’t, but I hope with all my heart that these same angels are with us now…

    I can’t speak for all Americans, but I know that I am still hurting, every day that goes by I remember 9-11, and I don’t know if a *healing* will ever take place in me, but I pray for the lives of those affected in an even more direct fashion, I pray for our firefighters, police officer and our troops… I pray that ALL of America will wake up to the dangers around us and unite in an effort to defeat the evils that threaten our lives and freedoms.

    No matter where that evil comes from!

    I will NEVER forgive and I will NEVER forget!

  9. Thanks, Keith for what you wrote and allowing us to express our thoughts, memories and feelings.

    Sometimes it’s odd what you remember first. The weather in NYC on 9/11 was unbelievably beautiful. Summer was melting into autumn and the air was pleasantly crisp and the sky blue. This was the backdrop for the horror that we witnessed as the planes hit the towers. The contrast made the events seem surreal. I was at home in upstate NY (where I lived at the time). I was working, had the radio on and heard about the first plane. I turned on the TV in time to see the second plane hit. Then, awhile later we heard about Flight 93.

    Then what I remember are the kindnesses of people who helped others. The first responders set the pace and then we heard story after story of people providing food, money, whatever they could give to help. I cried for days not just because of what happened but also because of the heartwarming stories of Americans helping each other. This is what we do; we help and I think that is what makes us great. I love this country.

  10. I was home, not working that day and learned of the horrible act watching a morning show…saw the second plane and knew the first was no longer an accident. Went and woke up my husband who had worked evening watch at the Police Dept. He and I watch the rest of the day in horror…until he had to put on his uniform, vest, gun belt and badge and go back to work…we must never forget and always honor those who died, those who ran to assist and those who kept looking…Honor those who fight to keep us safe since that day and those who have died in the war on terror…

  11. I was at work in Austin, Texas. I was sitting at my desk working on a project and listening to the radio through my headphones. The local news broke into the program and announced the WTC had been hit by a small plane. In shock I looked over to my podmate, a committed liberal, and just said “The World Trade Center has been hit by a plane”. The first words out of her mouth was “Damn Osama bin Laden”. After making sure all was well with our families, we pulled out an old portable black and white TV set and watched the news together in horror. That day we weren’t right or left, Democrat or Republican. We were Americans and together we cried for our fellow countrymen who died at the hands of a brutal, heartless monster who preaches hate and death.

    I will never forget that day, nor will I forget the outpouring of love and generosity shown among all Americans in the aftermath of that tragedy. We donated as much as we could afford and sponsored teams of volunteer firefighters from all over Texas to travel to NY & Washington to help.

    I don’t quite remember when it changed and we became divided again. I know how divided we were with the whole 2000 Gore vs Bush hanging chad fiasco, but the tragedy of 9/11 brought us back together as Americans — however short-lived that time was.

  12. I was in shock 10 years ago but am sad and angry this year. I know Obama doesn’t have our countrys best in mind and even though Bush wasn’t perfect, I respect him and I do miss him.
    My son graduated from Marine Corp boot camp 11 days before 9/11/01 and had just returned to camp just hours before the planes hit. I was able to talk to him that day and we knew where he was going. Today, he is on his fourth tour and I’m angry. Not because of his service, I am proud of him and all the others, but because the military is being screwed by this administration.
    Keith, if you don’t want to post this, I understand. I am very frustrated at all the pc crap. Instead of profiling, the gov. is having a party at the expense of 89 year old grandmothers and 3 year old kids. Instead of tightening up our borders, they are looking the other way, hoping it will bring them a few extra votes. Instead of calling a spade a spade, they are having a kumbya session with the enemy.

  13. It makes me sad too because we are not the same country we were before 9/11. The one thing that stands out for me though is the almost unbelievable, gutwrenching courage of the passengers and crew of Flight 93. Because they fought back and won, they day was not a total loss.

    I would like to point out that the Flight 93 Memorial is the only 9/11 memoral that is part of the National Park Service. It needs $10m in order to be completed. It still needs a Visitor’s Center. It’s over 2000 acres of land reclaimed from a used up coal mine. The memorial is the cemetery. No remains were ever removed from the sight. Please go to HonorFlight93.org and make a donation so that this new National Memorial can be finished. It is shameful that after ten years and the billions of stimulus, auto company bailouts, bank bailouts, etc. this park is still incomplete.

  14. I had had a fight with my wife that morning (can’t even remember about what) and by the time I arrived at my office she had left a half dozen messages asking what was going on. I was so ticked that morning I didn’t even have on the radio in the car so I was at a loss as to what she was talking about. When I called her she told me of the first plane hitting the tower.

    My office building did not have cable, or regular TV reception so we could not get any television reports as to what was going on. I was a state child abuse investigator at the time, and I stripped cable from one of the interview rooms and made an antenna to boost the signal so we could watch what was going on.

    My colleagues and I stood around the TV and watched in shock and horror all that transpired that morning. We got a call about an hour after the first tower fell telling us that all non-essential personnel were to leave and go home. Since no one knew the extent of what was going on, and our office was in the middle of a downtown, Mid-west city there was a fear that there might be other attacks on other buildings.

    Of the 50 or so staff (investigators, supervisors and support staff) only a half dozen or so of us remained, myself included. All of the local LEOs assigned to our unit were put on alert and geared up. Again, no one knew what the hell was happening or where another strike might happen.

    I spoke with a district commander that day, and he told me that all of the police departments in the region were on full alert, the concern being that someone might try using a truck bomb like Oklahoma City or something worse. We knew all flights had been grounded, our airport was stacked with planes. But no one knew what else might be used.

    In the weeks that followed the attacks our office was inundated with calls. Parents were freaked out and there was a huge spike in abuse of kids during the months that followed. The anger, fear and lack of ability to deal with and process this horror was taken out on a lot of kids.

    I had been a local police officer before shifting over to the state, and still had a lot of friends on many departments. After 9/11 we would get together for beers and talk about what had happened that day, and the loss to the NYPD and FDNY. All of us shared the same sentiment, if it had happened in our city, how many of our friends would have died that day trying to do their jobs.

    Over the years I have had friends killed in the line of duty, and while the ceremony is beautiful, it is not something that you want to attend. To have to go to scores of funerals for fallen officers and firefighters is something that I cannot even begin to comprehend.

    I know some may think that this post sounds cold, as it really only focuses on the loss to the PD and FD, but for years those were my brothers and sisters. The loss of civilian life that day was horrific, and I grieve for the families. But on that fateful day New York and the world saw what true bravery was and is. Men and women who, without thought of their own safety ran INTO those buildings only to die.

    On a side note, I transferred out of the child abuse unit a couple of years after 9/11 and went to work for parole. One of my chief responsibilities was serving warrants on violators and hunting down escapees. I talked with hundreds of inmates during my time there, and many had converted to Islam while in prison. These men were the worst of the worse, and hated what American society had “done to them” (ignore the fact that they had been drug dealers, rapist, arsonist, murderers) society had punished them. The prisons in America have become recruitment centers for radical Islam, and the men being recruited are among the most violent there is. In 2006 I wrote a paper for our Commissioner regarding this, and the need to do something to stem the recruitment effort but was told that I was over reacting. That Islam was a religion of “peace”. Now we are starting to see the fruits of these recruitment efforts, and I fear that as time progresses we will see not Saudi citizens attacking us, but our own citizens that have been recruited in our own prisons.

  15. We were still living in Hawaii when the phone rang at 4am. My first thought was that someone had died…little did I know. Our daughter in Colorado said “turn on the TV mom” and all I could think to ask, still sleep muddled, was what channel.
    “Any channel” was her reply. Both towers had been hit, as had the Pentagon. We sat for the next 5 hours and watched the horror unfold.

    We did not know for many days that the last 17 international flights to enter the US were on their way to Hawaii…too far into their flights to turn around and no other options for landing. We also did not know that all of these flights were being escorted by jet fighters with instructions to shoot them down should they be deemed a threat. Thankfully, that did not happen.

    To this day I cry when I see pictures of the devastation. I will not heal, nor will I forget.

    God bless those lost on 11 September 2001 and may He give peace to their families. God bless those still protecting our freedom and GOD BLESS AMERICA.

  16. Keith– This was a great way to have folks express their feelings. It should stand as a testament to all that is good and unites us in the cause of ensuring that our freedoms are never taken for granted. All this certainly outstrips Paul Krugman’s NYT tripe of calling President Bush a “fake hero” and then not allowing post to his near slander. For me, I’ll take a fake hero any day over a known coward.

  17. It was my husbands second day on the job. He had been out of work for 6 months, we had enough money to make our last mortgage payment. We were so thankful that life was beginning to turn around for us. We couldn’t sell our house so the children and I stayed behind while he went off to Florida. I was watching the Today show after I had packed the children off to school. I was waiting for Matt to talk with a wedding coordinator. He mentioned they would be back after the break but the look on his face was very odd.

    Of course the interview never happened and they came back with the news that a plane had hit the tower. I was so saddened that such a horrible accident could happen, especially on such a clear day. Never once did I envision what it really was. I called my husband who was luckily on a break from orientation telling him what happened. We talked praying for the people and then I frantically told him another plane had just hit. By that time they got the TV going in his office and he tried to calm me by saying it was a repeat. I screamed, “no, it’s not, another one just hit!” Then it hit us, this was something different, something evil and I was afraid.

    We lived near a base and the fighter jets had been sent up. We would hear them every day for a long time. At first we would raise our ears being concerned, but then we felt comforted by them. We even missed hearing them until finally in our new home discovered when they scramble they go right over house when they return. It always made me proud to hear them.

    Ah, our house. I had one day to find a home for us to move into. Our agent did a wonderful job taking us all around the area, but nothing just felt right. She finally took us to a new development, she was positive they had sold out but thought the agent might know of some other homes the company had in development. We fell in love with the community, the schools, the openness of the homes. He said that a lot had come back to them, no more than that and would we like to take a look. We were very happy with it and signed our contract. Months later I was talking with the foreman about how glad we were that the lot came back. He asked me if Tony ever told me the story and of course he hadn’t. I found out then the owner of our lot had died in the Towers. I have no idea who it is, I would never begin to ask such a thing. I often wonder if any of our neighbors knew them because it seems like every other person on our block is from Long Island and they all know each other! But who ever it was , they are always in our thoughts and prayers. All three thousand of them.

  18. I live with my Mom. She was 78 and I was 50 she left after the first plane
    hit. We live in Mission KS and she was going about 30 miles away to help her older sister move was staying a couple days. It was so hard to sit alone and watch you turn to say something and I felt so alone. No one knew what would happen next or where. Such a hopeless feeling you can’t help it’s
    almost unbearable to watch but you can’t leave the TV. And feeling unable to help. Seeing things you will never forget for me it was those who jumped,
    and the Doctors and nurses waiting at the emergency room doors with all
    the gurneys with drip bags ready for people who would never come. And
    also Flight 93 the first citizen soldiers. And seeing those firemen running
    up knowing they would not survive it’s too much in so few hours too much.

  19. 09-11-01: My husband was in Seattle, Washington. I was home – we lived “out in the country” from Syracuse, NY. During our “good morning” telephone call, we both were watching the Today Show and saw the impact of the 2nd plane. Our reaction was the same as millions of other U.S. Citizens…shock, disbelief, anger that someone had the audacity to attack the United States of America!
    My husband told me the following morning that he would begin driving home immediately. He called the rental car company to tell them their car would be dropped off at the Syracuse airport in a couple days. They informed him he could not take their car and that a representative would pick it up at the hotel. He replied, “I have the keys and a full tank of gas and I am leaving now. I will let you know when I reach Syracuse, NY.” They threatened to charge us thousands of dollars for the drop off, etc. He said, “You do what you have to do. I’m driving this bad boy to Syracuse, NY.” After driving 12 hours the first day, he phoned me and asked me to locate a motel along his route so that he could get some sleep. I phoned the local Holiday Inn and asked if they could help. They gave me a phone number…and after a couple of additional phone calls, I finally located ONE room in a town on his route. When I phoned him to tell him, he said, “I’ve already passed that town! I’m not back tracking!” (in his defense, he was bone tired and feared that he would not reach our home.) He finally saw a truck stop a few minutes later – they had one remaining bed so that night, he had a few hours sleep on a plastic covered mattress. He pulled into our driveway after 27 hours of driving time. And, FYI, the rental car company only charged the normal daily rental fee.
    We are no different than any other American citizen, but my husband’s determination to reach home exemplifies why we are the greatest nation on earth.
    As an aside…the next week, I ventured to the local mall for a nail
    appointment. Frankly, I was a little afraid, for malls, etc. were on alert as possible bombing sites. I only saw two other shoppers that day…two Muslim
    women.

  20. Thank you Keith. I would like as well to pay respect to the American victims of terrorism in September 11. America has been and is the stronghold preserving democracy and freedom in the world and for that the United States of America has paid a very high price with the lives of thousands of its best daughters and sons. America has to be vigilant of the growing enemy within its borders, including being alert for those that so stupidly are trying to transform the US pushing for its deviance from its foundation and historical roll, far from the best interest of the free world while damaging the more noble country in human history. God bless and preserve the United States of America.

  21. I was at work and my friend Carla called and told me about the first plane. I got a play-by-play of the second plane hitting while we were on the phone. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I then heard about the Pentagon…I really thought it was the beginning of the end.

    my daughter (now 21) was in her 8th grade civics class; they were about to watch a video. the teacher had turned on the TV and they just happened to see the second plane hit live.

    the teacher burst into tears and fled from the room, leaving a classroom full of 11-year-olds asking each other “was that real? is this a movie?”

  22. My birthday is today and after ten years, it seems that this is the hardest year. I don’t feel safe or secure with the current administration and seeing George W. and Laura Bush made my heart swell with pride remembering all that happened a decade ago and how it was handled. God Bless America!

    • I have a relative whose birthday is today as well. Since 2001, he has celebrated it on the 12th. We were supposed to have a birthday dinner the night of 9/11 which we did not do. In fact, he just asked that his birthday be ignored that year. So, when he turned 40 a few years later we had a huge surprise party on the 12th.

  23. Another day that will live in infamy. I felt sickness that morning as I watched my fellow Americans attacked for nothing less than being American. Not knowing any of the innocent people murdered I still felt as though a part of me was gone too. My thoughts then are as they are now, “let’s find who did this and remove them from the face of God’s green Earth, by whatever means necessary. NUKE IRAN NOW!

  24. That year my baseball team was having the season for the ages so I was watching ESPN to see what they were saying about the win the night prior. I flipped over to a local channel to see how the traffic report. It was there they were reporting the first attack. I was just standing there watching the report when the second plane hit the south tower. I had a handheld TV so I took it to work. The Pentagon was hit while I was on my way to work.

    When I got to the office, I was told to go home so I spent the rest of the day watching the tragedy.

    The next day I stood at a window in my office watching nuclear subs stationed at Bangor being escorted out of Puget Sound by destroyers with only military jets in the air. Life was never the same.

  25. I wrote about that day on another site. I cannot do it again here. But I have read each and every one of the stories here, and thank you all for sharing them. It is good to know, ten years later, that on that day, during the same moments, you shared the same agony, the same despair, the same terror with me, you – my fellow Americans. In knowing that we shared the same time and space, there is solice. Thank you so much. God bless the United States of America.

  26. Thank you for sharing your 9.11 experience, Keith.

    It’s still a very sad day, and more so knowing that people are appeasing and catering to these murders. I get madder every year, seeing how things are going. God Bless all the People affected by this horror, and may the Dead R.I.P.

  27. I woke up late heard some excited talk on the radio then turned on the tv

    I was by myself when I saw the horrendous events but called people as well….but I was so confused I drove to work, no one was doing anything obviously they had the big tv in the cafeteria turned on to the broadcast.
    Truthfully not as much sad as angry, angry at the foreigners who had jobs in my company but no benefits and less pay because my american company could get away with , angry that groundskeepers could be working with less pay and no benefits because the USA allows it, angry that no one got angry enough to make a difference

    If they tried the same thing today would we pave their rode to prison with prayer rugs with obama reminding us of they CONTRIBUTION an SACRIFICE in the 9/11 tragedy like he did on ramadan or whatever that holiday is. Or would they be holy martyrs to the cause of the fall of western civ?

    9/11 yes it was horrible tragic and sad

    but what good came of it? being groped at the airport? being afraid to look crosseyed at a muslim , mexican, indian, black, asian, gender challenged, or those who “identify” with biological makeups they don’t have?

    I am white, I am tired and I am angry

  28. I did not watch tv today. The memories from the events of a decade ago are still too raw for me. I’m not ready. My son had a birthday and we spent the day with him.

  29. My first act was a prayer. “Dear GOD, YOU know this tragdy is because we love your only son, JESUS. It all boils down to being Christians and Jews. They believe the Bible got it wrong. That they were the chosen people and not the Jews. That Jews and Christian stole their history. We must stand firm in our belief in GOD. Our GOD, not the muslims view with their religon of hatred. What god would want someone to send a child with a sucide vest into a group of people?