"A DECADE OF HOPE," by Dennis Smith and Deirdre Smith, Viking, $26.95, 256 pages (nf)
The personal accounts of 9/11, as found in "Decade of Hope," surely provide an appropriate way to recollect the tragic events of that fateful September day as we near its anniversary.
Dennis Smith, founder of Firehouse magazine and a former New York City firefighter, presents 25 personal accounts of those who personally witnessed the horror of the hijacked planes crashing into the towers and of all the consequences that ensued, including some tales of seeing World Trade Center employees falling hundreds of feet upon realizing that they wouldn't make it to the bottom floor in time. Others spoke of going into the building and hardly escaping, along with experiences of those who entered one of the buildings with fellow firefighters, only to leave without the partners with whom they had entered.
A poignant account was that of Ada Rosario Dolch, who was the principal of a high school just two blocks from the World Trade Center. She describes her experience in safely evacuating 600 students from the area while crying to God both for help and for forgiveness, sincerely believing that she would be meeting him long before she had expected. She experienced such an ordeal all while her own sister had likely perished in the North Tower.
The volume of anti-Muslim sentiment shared by many of the 25 who shared their experiences was suprising. It was obvious that the perception of Islam by those who were in New York City that morning, who went through the traumatic experience of such atrocities, was heavily influenced that day.
"Decade of Hope" invites a wave of pondering about the role of patriotism and religion in life and where it fits into the society. Most of the accounts sparked a series of personal memories about where I was and what I felt when the world changed that Tuesday morning. Human stories as powerful as these tend to do that.