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BPD Update Online, Fall 2001
September 11 - Pennsylvania

Mit Joyner, West Chester University


I was watching the "Today Show" on September 11, 2001. matt Lauer reported "please stand by for breaking news someone flew a plane into the World Trade Center." I shrugged it off, as I thought th epilot of a small plane or jet must have had a heart attack and lost control of the plane. How horrible for them and the people they hurt, were my immediate thoughts. I continued to prepare to leave for work.

I was still watching the "Today Show", trying to get ready for the day yet mesmerized by the breaking news. As I watched in horror another plane flew into the second Tower of the World Trade Center. New York is under attack but by whom? I immediately called my husband who works in the federal building in Philadelphia. I was not infear for my husband's life, he just usually ahs the inside scope on things. He did not, in fact I told him the horrible news.

I then thought of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald decades ago. I had the same stun feeling than that I now have, a feeling that I must be dreaming. Were my thoughts and feelings an illusion or fact "did I REALLY see what I just witnessed, planes deliberately flying into the World Trade Center?" My stomach went to knots.

I left for work, I needed to be near my friends an colleagues. My social work colleagues sat at a faculty meeting talking about this New York City disaster. Yet again for the second time in the same day, my stomach flip-flopped as my secretary said the Pentagon was just attacked. My thoughts went to the safety of my family and friends. One daughter who lived in Atlanta already checked in with me, another daughter who lived in DC talked with my husband. My thoughts went to the whereabouts of my third daughter who also lived inDC. I tried calling her but the circuits are busy, this is third time in the same hour that my stomach felt upset. I adjourned faculty meeting and each of us went as friends, not colleagues to the university student union to listen to the news. We sat and watched in amazement Tower Two crumbled before our eyes, and the news was also reporting panic in the nation's capitol. My stomach hurt for the fourth time in an hour, my head also hurts and my heart is sinking, I feel like I am suffocating. I must talk with my children and husband. Is United States under attack? Knots form again in my stomach for the fifth time as breaking news of a plane crashed near Pittsburgh. I left the student union immediately to return to my office to call each member of my family. I rinally reached my daughter in DC, I was relieved and so was my stomach. As I talked with each member of my family, I told them (hopefully reassuringly) to stay were theya re since they were safe for themoment, and that I loved them. I did not know if I would have another opportunity as a mother/wife to say I love you to my love ones. I returned to the student union, to continue to listen to the news and help the students, faculty, and staff in anyway that I could. Tower One fell my stomach is aching again. I look around the room; the fear for the nation, the fear for our families and lived ones was evident in everyone's faces.

A week later my stomach is still upset. The values that I uphold and believe in so deeply are under assault; social justice, freedom, liberty, respect for all. I now know that I must fight even harder so that the dream "freedom and liberty for all" can become a reality. I want all of you to know how I feel today, as a social worker/social work educator/social work leader. Last weeks events were horrific and will elave a lasting impression on my life. I am personally afraid that our country may repeat the mistakes of thep ast, racism and bigotry. Assaulting freedom and liverty of other's in the name of definding our grat nation is wrong. We must remember Dr. Martin Luther King's statement "Injustice anywhere is athreat to justice everywhere". Let us embrace and renew our belief in "freedom and liberty for all" as we bring to justice those who attempt to dismantle those freedoms judiciously. Let us not forget that denying anyone his or her freedom is unjust. Those of us who uphold and believe in freedom can never victimize, blame, or treat a person differently based solely ont he color of their skin, or religious beliefs or sexual orientation. The United States is the only country in the world that each citizen and/or ancestor is from various diverse shores.

As I vividly remember the disastrous events of September 11, 2001, I wondered what role would social work play in this pivotal moment of history? Can we help others remain free of prejudice, bigotry, and hate; or will the social workers fall victim to the terrorist, as did the buildings in New York and DC to the racist ways of the past? Do not let all of the unsung heroes who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 be in vain. Please let us stand up as a profession and help our country and it's members not make the same mistakes of the past. My stomach can not tolerate anymore knots and pain!

Continued on the next page...

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