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REFLECTIONS ON 9/11
Five years ago, Americans lost their sense of security but gained a burst of patriotism and goodwill. How do we remember that day, and how did the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, change our lives? A SPECIAL SECTION OF THE
Monday, September 11, 2006
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How terrorism has affected the arts in Wausau
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Serving north central Wisconsin
State’s bear population might be growing
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
New school, new school year Photographer Butch McCartney visits Weston's new Mountain Bay Elementary School on the first day of class. Photo essay on 5A. Also, view the accompanying slideshow at www.wausaudailyherald.com
WAUPACA — State officials say the bear population in the state appears to growing, an observation some residents in northern and central Wisconsin can confirm. Lynn Knedle recently found a 300-pound bear on her patio in her rural neighborhood just west of Waupaca. “He walked around and looked up a pole at our bird feeder,” Knedle said. “I guess I’ll be checking the woods by our yard from now on when I walk outside.”
Knedle’s encounter followed one report of a bear sighting in the town of Farmington, and another in Waupaca County when authorities there investigated a report of a bear struck by a car. “It used to be unusual to see a bear around here, but now it’s becoming usual,” Knedle said. Scientists with the state Department of Natural Resources say black bears do seem to be expanding their territories. “There is some range expansion of black bears more southerly in
“They do like bird feed. People in northern Wisconsin who live with bear have learned to take their bird feeders in at night.” Robert Rolley DNR research scientist
Wisconsin,” said retired DNR biologist Keith McCaffery. Robert Rolley, a DNR research scientist, said the bear populations in central Wisconsin also have been growing. “The habitat is favorable,
REFLECTIONS ON 9/11
Soldier’s life takes path to war The stories behind the folks at the fair:
and there is a lot of food available,” Rolley said. “They do like bird feed. People in northern Wisconsin who live with bear have learned to take their bird feeders in at night.” Kathy Roblee of Waushara County said she
Firefighters learn skills from 9/11 veterans BY JEFF STARCK WAUSAU DAILY HERALD JSTARCK@WDHPRINT.COM
TOMAHAWK — Firefighters who gathered at the state’s largest training school Sunday reflected on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed 343 of their fellow firemen. Instructors from Chicago, Milwaukee, Idaho, Oakland, Calif., and New York joined local teachers who helped the 625 firefighters from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota learn the latest firefighting and emergency response techniques. Throughout the two-day training school in Tomahawk, local firefighters were able to meet other firefighters to swap stories and talk about fighting fires from differentsize communities. It was also
“I would have graduated college. ... My hope was to be a cop at the Wausau Police Department, so I’d probably have a job there. Probably looking to buy my first house. I’d still be engaged.” — Spc. Clint Kurth, on his plans if the Sept. 11 attacks never happened
A special 16-page commemorative section looking at how the Sept. 11 attacks changed us and our country.
n Sept. 11, 2001, Clint Kurth was a college student working part-time at a clothing store in the Wausau Center mall. Today, five years later, Kurth is headed to Iraq, where he will drive a gun truck providing security for military convoys hauling fuel. A 1999 graduate of Newman Catholic High School, Kurth, 25, essentially put his life and his studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on hold as a result of the terrorist attacks that day. That was the day 19 suicide hijackers took control of four passenger jets, crashing them into New York City’s World Trade Center towers, into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and into the Pennsylvania countryside. The attacks killed 2,973 people and set off a war on terror that has claimed the lives of 3,000 U.S. troops. Kurth, a specialist, joined the U.S. Army National Guard in December 2004 and this month deployed for a yearlong tour of service with the Oshkosh-based 1157th Transportation
Company, stationed at Camp Taji near Baghdad. “If it wasn’t for 9/11, I probably never would have signed up,” said Kurth, a sociology major aspiring to be a police officer in his other life. He was among 16 people from north central Wisconsin interviewed by the Wausau Daily Herald about their reflections on life since Sept. 11, 2001. What was your initial reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks? It was almost like watching a movie. You didn’t believe it was real. It makes you think about how fast everything can be taken away from you. How did your friends and relatives react to the news you were joining the military? My mom was angry with me because she wanted me to finish school. At first, everyone was kind of shocked because nobody knew how bad I really wanted to do it. Now that I’m actually in and See KURTH/2A
INTERVIEW BY MARK MULTER • PHOTO BY BUTCH MCCARTNEY • WAUSAU DAILY HERALD
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was shocked when she saw a black bear cross a road near her home two months ago. “It looked like about 600 pounds to me,” she said. “It’s the first time I ever saw a bear outside a zoo or garbage dump.” She said at first she was scared and that she called home to warn people to keep their dogs inside. “Then I began to think about all the good things of living in a rural area,” she said. “It’s like when you see an eagle. You feel blessed. I feel blessed to have seen the bear.”
an opportunity to hear about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York City from two firefighters who were there. “It pisses me off,” said Tomahawk firefighter Jeremy Meyers, 33, when asked about his thoughts on that day. “On television, they never showed the true utter devastation that took place.” The New York firefighters presented a slideshow of photographs that showed the damage and the aftermath of the attack on the firefighters, including part of a fire engine that was blown three blocks away from Ground Zero. Among the instructors was New York City Fire Capt. Mike Hayes, who responded the afternoon of the attacks. Hayes, who is also the chief a volunteer fire department 180 miles outside of the city, See FIREFIGHTERS/2A
Gun violence, thefts increased last year However, overall crime reached 32-year low BY MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WA S H I N G T O N — Americans were robbed and victimized by gun violence at greater rates last year than the year before, even though overall violent and property crime reached a 32-year low, the Justice Department said Sunday. Experts said these increases buttress reports from the FBI and many mayors and police chiefs that violent crime is beginning to rise after a long decline. Bush administration officials expressed concern but stressed that it was too soon to tell if a new upward trend in violence had begun. Last year, there were two violent gun crimes for every 1,000 individuals, compared with 1.4 in 2004, according to the department’s Bureau of
Crime rates down, gun violence up Violent and property crime rates dropped across the nation from 2004 to 2005, while robbery and gun violence rates rose. Criminal victimization rate, per 1,000 people age 12 and older 2004 2005 Violent crimes 21.4 21.2 Property crimes
Robbery 2.1 2.6 Gun violence 161 1.4 154 2.0
SOURCE: Bureau of Justice Statistics AP
Justice Statistics. There were 2.6 robberies for every 1,000 persons, compared with 2.1 the year before. “This report tells us more the serious events — robbery and gun crimes — increased and the FBI already told us homicides increased,” said criminal justice professor James Alan Fox of Northeastern University. “So while the report shows the more numerous but least serious violence — simple assaults, which See CRIME/2A
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Kurth: Man’s life takes detour after attacks Crews hope for break From Page 1A I’m going (overseas), everyone keeps telling me how proud they are of (me). It means a lot. It makes you think about how I’m doing something good for my country. Did you consider yourself patriotic before the Sept. 11 attacks? Not as much as I am now. ... Even though it wasn’t here (in Wausau), it was in our country. And I think that made a lot of people realize, this is our country, and you have to defend it. It made everybody’s heart open up to the world a little more. What do you think you would be doing right now if the Sept. 11 attacks had never occurred? I would have graduated college, probably three years ago. My hope was to be a cop at the Wausau Police Department, so I’d probably have a job there.
Probably looking to buy my first house. I’d still be engaged. Relationships in the military, when you have a non-military member that you’re with, are very, very difficult to (sustain) when you’re gone. My life would be a lot more stable. Five years after the attacks, have your feelings on wanting to join the military changed? Actually, they have probably grown a little bit stronger. After being in for almost two years now, it makes me think about possibly staying in for 20 (years) or making a career out of it. It comes from inside of you, and a lot of people will tell you that. Either you have it in you or you don’t, and once you have it in you nobody can take it out of you. How hard is it going to be to leave your family behind? Thinking about it scares you,
so I don’t. Literally, you just put that in the back of your mind and think about the better things, the people that you’re with, the bonds that already exist with the people in your platoon. That’s your family now. It’s just like when you play sports with a team. We’re a team now and we’re a family, and you’d be very surprised how someone will do something for you in a matter of an instant if you asked them. And those ties will last forever. In the post-Sept. 11 world, what is your biggest fear? My biggest fear now is not coming back from my deployment. But the things that are happening with Korea right now, and even Iran, the thought of an actual world war breaking out again I don’t think is very far away, and that scares me a lot. There are other countries out there that have weapons we don’t know about. And if a country
and a group of people as small as the Taliban can do what they did to the U.S., imagine if something does break out with North Korea or Iran. And plus we have Iraq going on right now. We’re not going to have the power to keep the U.S. safe. Can you describe the tattoo on your back and what it represents to you? (It’s an American flag in a tribal design.) I wanted the American flag on me, because it means more to me than basically anything. A lot of people sign up for the Army for money for college. Well I’m almost done with college, I didn’t need the money, I have no loans for school. I signed up for me, to prove I could do it. And then the tattoo came. I actually had one of my friends draw it, and I didn’t want just a flag, a normal flag done, I wanted something special. Every time I look at it in the mirror it makes me think about the U.S.
in Nevada wildfires THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
RENO, Nev. — For the first time in three months, firefighters in northeastern Nevada may get a chance to catch their breath. Crews nearly contained the last of two wildfires that have burned more than 407 square miles since Sept. 3 around Elko, 290 miles east of Reno. Once they do, it will mark the first time the region has been without an active wildland blaze since June 6, fire officials said. “The fires out here have been constant,” fire information officer Gina Dingman said. “We want it to snow.” The two fires had burned more than 261,000 acres in Lander and Elko counties. A 150,270acre blaze was contained late Saturday, and a 110,738-acre fire was 95 percent contained with full containment expected some-
time today. Fire officials attributed progress on the fires to cooler temperatures, less wind and the work of the firefighting crews. But officials warned the fire season is far from over. Meanwhile, firefighters working a wildfire that has burned nearly 20 square miles in the Los Padres National Forest in California reported some progress Sunday with the help of calm winds, temperatures in the mid-50s and relative humidity at around 66 percent, authorities said. The fire, which began nearly a week ago about 40 miles north of Los Angeles, was 12 percent contained, said Ned Linquist, a forest spokesman. The fire had forced the closure of several camping and recreation areas, and the evacuation of about 1,200 campers and fishermen. No homes have been damaged.
Firefighters: Learn from 9/11 veterans From Page 1A said he spent the next 10 days away from home helping with the clean-up at Ground Zero. “There is never a day that you don’t think about it,” Hayes said. “I had taught a class of 600 rookie firefighters. We lost 30 of them from that group.” Hayes, 43, will return to New York City today and hoped to catch the end of the commemorative ceremoMike nies planned. The Hayes fact that Hayes and the other New York firefighters were willing to come to Tomahawk to teach Wisconsin-area firefighters was not lost on those at the school. Jeremy “I have pictures Simonson (of the attacks) under my toolbox, and I look at them every day,” said Jeremy Simonson, 23, a firefighter from K ewaskum who joined five months after the attacks. “It Daryl was a big loss for Liggins everyone that day.” Daryl Liggins, 34, an instructor from Oakland, lost a friend, Andrew Fredricks from Squad 18,
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More than 600 firefighters from the Midwest learned the latest firefighting and emergency rescue techniques this weekend at the state’s largest hands-on training school held in Tomahawk. in the attacks. “Andrew and all of us are passionate about teaching the right way of attacking fires,” Liggins said. Liggins said the weekend school allowed them to practice large-scale burns, which can’t be
done in large cities. Grant money made available since the attacks has provided better equipment and training, but Milwaukee Fire Department Capt. Terry Lintonen still is concerned about readiness.
“The firefighters and Port Authority (personnel) died on our soil, and that’s scary for me,” Lintonen said. “However, we are more prepared at the local level than ever before, directly from this.”
Crime: Report shows mixed statistics On the Web Justice report: www.ojp. usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cv05. htm time to preach; instead he used it to hear our concerns.” Esserman said all but few cities have fewer police officers now than in 2001, with big reductions in New York, Boston and Detroit “because of the loss of federal money.” A Clinton administration program paid for local departments to hire community-oriented police officers, but the Bush administration stopped the money for such hiring. “I believe in homeland defense, but I also believe in crime fighting,” Esserman said. “I don’t want one neglected for the other. Every year we’re losing 16,000 people to murder, mostly young people and mostly killed by guns, and that’s more than three times the number that died at the World Trade Center” in attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Professor Alfred Blumstein of
Carnegie Mellon University said the rise in gun violence was particularly troubling. “A major police effort to confiscate guns helped bring down the surge in violent crime that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s,” Blumstein said. “But gun distribution is easier now because we have begun to back off gun control.” Backed by the National Rifle Association, the Bush administration has been cool toward gun control measures. The statistics bureau’s victimization report found that the overall violent crime rate was unchanged in 2005 from the year before, at just more than 21 crimes for every 1,000 individuals over age 12. The property crime rate fell in 2005 from 161 crimes to 154 for every 1,000 people because of a drop in household thefts. Both rates were the lowest since the survey began in 1973. McNulty noted the record-low rates but said “we are concerned about” in increase in the violent firearm crime rate. “Whether the increase ... marks a change
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Vol. 97 / No. 254
VOTE FOR CHANGE
“If elected, I will deal quickly and efficiently with serious crime and repeat offenders. But we all know people make mistakes, accidents happen, and errors in judgement occur. Not all of those events should be considered crimes. Help me bring a more common sense approach to the Marathon County District Attorney’s office.”
Sept. 12, 2006
PETER KAROBLIS for District
Did you know? I
The number of people jailed each year in Marathon County has increased 74% in just six years—and at that rate, taxpayers will soon be footing the bill for a new jail!*
A new jail will cost $35 million plus $4.5 million each year to operate.* Wouldn’t you rather put those funds toward taking care of our elderly citizens?
61% of the inmates in the Marathon County jail were charged with non-violent crimes.* Does this really make our communities safer or just overcrowd our jail and increase our tax bills?
In 2004, the Marathon County District Attorney’s office filed 181 misdemeanor charges per 10,000 citizens compared to Milwaukee County (109), La Crosse County (163) and Winnebago County (138)—and a statewide average of 131!*
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in the trend toward reduced firearms victimization rates cannot be determined from one year’s data,” McNulty added. He said some cities are seeing violent crime increases and noted the department has several programs in which federal agents join state and local officers combating gangs and drug abuse.
From Page 1A is pushing and shoving — went down, the mix got worse in terms of severity. That wasn’t a very good trade-off,” Fox said. A preliminary FBI report in June on crimes reported to police showed a 4.8 percent increase in the number of murders and 4.5 percent increase in the number of robberies in 2005. With congressional elections approaching, these reports could pose political problems for the administration, and department officials have been scurrying to understand and deal with the problem. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty listened to complaints about dwindling federal anticrime aid from several dozen mayors and police chiefs at a public meeting in Washington on Aug. 30. Several days later, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told reporters that cities will have to work harder but should not count on more federal money because of growing demands in the fight against terrorism. Nevertheless, Gonzales arranged a private meeting in New York last Thursday with three state police executives and the police chiefs of Los Angeles, Miami and Providence, R.I., The Associated Press learned. One of them, Providence’s Dean Esserman, came away “impressed at how much he listened. He wasn’t there to defend himself. He could have used the
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WE NEED A NEW DA! Vote Sept. 12 for PETER KAROBLIS Marathon County District Attorney
*Source: Kimme & Associates, Inc. “Marathon County Correctional Needs and Options Study” May 24, 2006 Paid for by Karoblis for DA, Richard W. Zalewski, treasurer 309 Fifth Street, Wausau, WI 54403
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REFLECTIONS ON 9/11
Grandpa’s off to war; grandma wonders why S
ally Olson of Mosinee thought the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, would touch her life in much the same way the events of that day affected most Americans.
world today? I’m frightened for the young children coming into this world. How are their lives going to be? Everything is so different from when I grew up. Can we protect our children? Will they be safe? _______
She would not have guessed the attacks would prompt a war on terrorism that would separate her family five years later.
Has that fear played a part in your relationship with your grandkids?
Olson, 51, is the wife of Sgt. 1st Class Gary Olson, who is 53 and had retired from the military more than 13 years ago. That was until he was recalled to active duty in Iraq, as part of his agreement to remain in the Army’s Individual Ready Reserve.
Oh, yeah. It definitely plays a part in our relationship. I try to spend every moment I can with them. _______
Gary Olson, a grandfather of three, flew to Mosul in April as a member of the Army’s 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion Alpha Company and is expected to serve a year overseas. He is teaching Iraqis how to rebuild their country.
Right now, I’m just trying to keep things together while (Gary) is gone. I’m trying to keep him strong and supported. I want him to know we’re here waiting for him. I try to send him constant love and support and try to keep him upbeat so he doesn’t worry about anything here.
Have you changed the way you go about your life since the terrorist attacks?
Back home, Sally Olson reflects on how Sept. 11 changed the world around her. _______
He calls me every day, but on the days he doesn’t call me he e-mails me. If I don’t get that phone call or e-mail, I’m so nervous.
Where were you when the attacks of Sept. 11 happened? I was at work at SNE Enterprises (in Mosinee). A couple of my co-workers have radios at their desks and they were talking about what happened. We were all like, ‘What?’ We were stunned. At lunch time we went to the break room and everyone was floored by it. We were just stunned. No one could believe it. _______
But I just have to keep going. _______ Do you think people in the United States are as close as they were right after Sept. 11? It depends. Sometimes it seems like people bond only when there’s a reminder of 9/11. To me, it seems like every time a young soldier passes away it’s a reminder and we become closer. But then we drift apart. And then it happens again and we become closer, then drift apart. It shouldn’t be that way. People should be held together by 9/11. You never know when your life is going to be cut short or when this will happen again. _______
When you saw the footage for the first time, what were you thinking? I couldn’t believe it was possible for this to be happening here. It couldn’t be happening to us in the United States. It’s unheard of. We’re in the land of the free and everyone’s living the happy American life. This just doesn’t happen here. It happens in the countries where people are fighting constantly and they’re at war with each other for different reasons. I couldn’t believe someone would intentionally harm us. It just left me speechless. _______ How did the attacks change the way you think about your own life and your own family? It brought all of us a whole lot closer. My family seems to mean more to me now, and materialistic things just aren’t as important as the value of your family and friends now. _______ At that time, did you expect your husband would be going overseas? Oh, no. I thought we were retired and done with that. Our children are here in the same
“My husband is restructuring the country, and he said people are so appreciative. But it’s hard for me to see him working so hard to rebuild one part while another part is being destroyed.” — Sally Olson, Mosinee town and we have our grandkids. We were enjoying their life and the closeness of it all. We were getting ready to do all the things we wanted to do after leaving the military life. We have our home. We’re in one place. We’re enjoying sports and family and fishing and vaca-
tioning together. Our family has been totally broken apart again. It’s totally different. _______ How did the events of Sept. 11 change the way you think about the United States’ place in the world?
It seems like we always run to everybody’s rescue. But do we have enough protection for us if this happens again? I feel like we’re running ourselves dry for support here. _______ What frightens you about the
Has your view of the military changed? I know they’re trying their hardest. I disagree with why we’re there, but everyone is entitled to their view of why we’re there. My husband is restructuring the country, and he said people are so appreciative. But it’s hard for me to see him working so hard to rebuild one part while another part is being destroyed. Are we gaining anything? Will this end? I have so many mixed emotions. I have very good days and very bad days. _______ Will Sept. 11 mean more to you this year with your husband overseas? I’m sure it will. Every year it has been very memorable. That day just had such an impact on the United States. It was a tragedy that affected everybody. Too many people died in a horrible way for no reason.
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REFLECTIONS ON 9/11
Egypt native explains terrorist mind-set O
ne of Samy Abadeer’s proudest moments was the day he became an American citizen.
well-documented, informed answers to people’s questions. _______ Did the terrorist attacks give you a stronger sense of patriotism?
Raised in Alexandria, Egypt, Abadeer moved to the United States in 1974 when he was 28 years old. Now 59 and the father of two grown children, Abadeer teaches business for Upper Iowa and Cardinal Stritch universities in Wausau.
Oh, very much so. I have always had pride in the democratic style of government we have here. I came here 32 years ago, and I was so proud to move here. My sense of patriotism is stronger since 9/11 because, I can tell you, the problems around the world cannot be solved with terrorism. It only creates more turmoil, ruins economies and destroys lives. _______
He became a U.S. citizen in November 1980. “That was a great day; I don’t really know how to put it in words,” Abadeer said. “It was glorious.” Abadeer, though, has never strayed far from his Middle Eastern roots.
Do you find yourself defending this country’s politics and policies more now with your family and friends back home?
He soaks up everything he can that relates to the region’s politics and religion. He reads newspapers, books and magazines about the events there. He follows news reports and keeps up with current events with the help of family members and friends who still live in Egypt.
Yes, because people do not always agree about our policies. Our policies are not always favorable to some people around the world or in some countries, but there always are ways to solve those problems. But terrorism is not the way. It only makes it worse. _______
So Abadeer said he wasn’t too surprised when terrorists attacked Americans on Sept. 11, 2001. He knew America eventually would be a target. _______
Have you changed the way you go about your life?
Did people have questions for you after the attacks?
I’m more careful, savvy about where to go, what I say, because I don’t want to find myself talking to the wrong people who may misunderstand me. I want to be clear, fair and very careful with my contacts and communications. I’m more cautious, like when I’m in a public building, I look around. Growing up in the Middle East will make you like that. _______
People wanted to know what this was all about. They were completely surprised by the mentality behind someone who would do such a thing. People kept asking me for reasons, like why they would do this, why they hate us so much and what their background is to lead them to do such a thing. _______ What has changed for you since then? I speak to many groups now about the Middle East. I am available to talk to church groups, schools, community organizations, anyone who has questions or wants someone to try to explain this. I had a continuing education course (on Arabic and Islamic cultures) after this in 2003 or 2004, with about 30 people in the class. ... It’s a very controversial subject because not everyone sees things the way I do. _______ Have you been under the microscope more? Because I have lived here for many, many years now, I haven’t had much difficulty here. Many people know me here. But there are times, especially with people I’ve never met, who look at me suspiciously. ... Around the city, I was careful not to get involved with discussions with people I don’t know. But there has not been any one particular incident in
“My sense of patriotism is stronger since 9/11 because, I can tell you, the problems around the world cannot be solved with terrorism. It only creates more turmoil, ruins economies and destroys lives.” — Samy Abadeer, Wausau
Do you remember your feelings when you saw the terrorist attacks, and did you understand the scope of it at that time? Immediately I thought, ‘They did it here.’ I understand the ideology behind all of this. I knew that this wasn’t just a spur of the moment thing. ... Terrorists have the equipment, money, training. They can do almost anything they want. The only thing stopping them is law enforcement and intelligence around the world. _______ What scares you?
which anyone has approached me negatively. I did, however, get encouragement from law enforcement after 9/11, letting me know that I should contact them if anything happened to me. _______ Did you start speaking to
groups and teaching Middle East classes because of Sept. 11? Oh, yes. People are curious, and they want to know answers. ... I won’t give specific answers unless I know the full, correct answer, so I have done more studies since then. I know
my Arabic and Middle Eastern history better. I know the history behind the conflicts better. I’ve accumulated articles from newspapers, magazines and have read many, many books at home about the subject. I am Christian, but I have studied the Koran just to be able to give
It hurts me to see the destruction. That’s a fear. But what I really fear is that we don’t have a full, complete and organized plan to fight terrorism or to curtail the terrorists. ... I don’t see an effective plan that can take care of this problem. It’s going to take international cooperation to do anything about it.
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Airport manager sees U.S. facing test very day, John Chmiel is reminded of the Sept. 11 airliner hijackings and the flight restrictions in place ever since.
my altitude,’ well, if you stare at the altitude to get it back where it should be, everything else is going down. It’s all about keeping your scan.
He’s the manager of the Wausau Downtown Airport and president of Wausau Flying Service, which offers flight instruction, aircraft rental, maintenance, charter flights and scenic tours.
There’s another mistake that’s called omission, where you would scan all but one or two of the instruments. So you’re scanning those, you’re screwing up on the other ones. You think you’re doing great over here, but over here you’re doing (poorly).
But the effect of Sept. 11 extends beyond his profession. The attacks, he said, have reminded him to appreciate every day and find better balance in his life by spending more time with his wife, Angela Uhl, and their two children, Wyatt, 10, and Isabelle, 9. _______
The other (mistake) is scanning two instruments and letting everything else go to hell. Really, the secret to instrument flying is keeping up your scanning, or balancing your scanning. It’s just a metaphor for life. Anywhere you look in your life, you can’t look too long or everything else will go to hell. _______
Where were you on Sept. 11 and how did you hear about the attacks? I was walking home from John Marshall Elementary from taking my kids down there. On the way back another parent came up and said, ‘Did you hear a plane just flew into the World Trade Center?’ And I thought that maybe the weather conditions were poor and somebody was having difficulty navigating. And I thought maybe it was a small airplane. I got home just in time to see the second one go in, and then I knew it was a serious deal. _______ How were your profession and passion for flying affected? Obviously, how we look at airport security has completely changed, not just at large airports but at airports of Wausau Downtown Airport’s size. Smaller airports are more vigilant ... making sure that only the right people have access to certain parts of the airport. We’ve upgraded our airport so now we have a perimeter fence with restricted access so only tenants can get through the vehicle gates or the pedestrian gates. ... The AOPA, which is the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, has created an airport watch program, which is similar to neighborhood watch, and that’s being implemented across the United States. It’s a dynamic process. Today we’re not as good as we’re going to be five years from now. I mean, we’re way different than we were five years ago. ... We’ve progressed but we’ve still got a ways to go. _______ Didn’t the Sept. 11 hijackers learn to fly on smaller planes? That’s the logical progression to start with a smaller airplane and move up to a larger aircraft. Instructors try to figure out the motivations of their students because it helps them teach them — but
Any other reflections you have on the date and the fifth anniversary? This is a test to see the fortitude of today’s Americans. What are we truly capable of as a society, and are we going to make the right decisions to continue the integrity that the United States of America has had for the last 200-plus years? _______
“America was founded by people who could compromise. And today’s Americans don’t seem to be able to compromise. If we are going to get out of this situation, it’s the Americans who can compromise who will get us out of it.” — John Chmiel, manager of Wausau Downtown Airport nobody prior to 9/11 ever thought somebody’s motivation to learn to fly would be a terrorist attack. _______ What about your belief system? How did Sept. 11 change the way you practice, or approach, your faith? I’m definitely more spiritual — without a doubt. That’s a good thing because it took me down a path I needed to go. _______ Have you changed the way you go about your life since Sept. 11? My life is completely differ-
ent because it’s more balanced. Or, let’s say this: I’m striving for more balance. _______ When you say balance, are you talking about a work-life balance? No. You could put that in a lot of contexts. I think that humans are made up of mind, body and soul, so you have this balance inside of you that you have to take care of. If you spend too much time working on your mind, then your body and soul suffer. You’ve also got to balance social life with rest of life, your family life. You’ve got to
balance your work life. In flying, when you fly instruments, there’s six basic instruments you have to look at. ... You’d think it would be an easy thing to do. But there’s three mistakes that pilots make and that’s why they have difficulty flying instruments. One of them is fixation. The key to flying instruments, is scan or balance — you’ve got to look at one instrument but don’t stare at that instrument. You’ve got to scan the other ones. Always keep that scan going. If you look at the altimeter and say, ‘Oh, God, I’m off on
How do you think we’ve scored so far? I think it’s a pass or fail thing, and you won’t know until it’s over. ... The problem with democracy is that you can’t make split-second decisions. It takes time to formulate your philosophy and get moving in a certain direction. The one thing that concerns me the most is that particular situation and others since have really polarized us. You’re either for ’em or against ’em. ... America was founded by people who could compromise. And today’s Americans don’t seem to be able to compromise. If we are going to get out of this situation, it’s the Americans who can compromise who will get us out of it. _______ When you say compromise, what do you mean? Americans have to sit down with Democrat or Republican neighbors, even if your philosophies aren’t the same. You’ve got to sit down and talk about it and not go to your camps and have that group mentality influence your decision-making. For me, when I look at what’s happening in the United States, I can see Bush’s point of view on why he went into Iraq, and I can see there’s something and some reason that I agree with. And then there’s reasons I don’t agree with. So, it’s not a for or against thing.
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Campus dean worries we’ve become disengaged J
im Veninga, 62, campus dean at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County in Wausau, has tried to foster more campus and community engagement about international issues since Sept. 1, 2001.
Islam and terrorism. My personal sense is the policy we have opted for in the past five years has really not been all that effective, even though we recently — or the British government — was able to stop a terrorist attempt on the United States. Even though we live with the threat that something else could happen at any time, I think that we have got to get a better strategy. The whole world community does, in a sense, in terms of how we need to respond to radicalism. _______
Veninga is planning a public forum this fall entitled “Lessons Learned from Iraq: Where Do We Go From Here?” The forum is scheduled at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at the UWMC theater. Speakers so far include Pauline Baker, president of the fund for peace and senior lecturer at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, and Col. Christopher Holshek, public affairs officer with the 353rd Civil Affairs Command. An additional panelist is expected to be named.
How do you think the campus changed since this happened? I’ve had some conversations with faculty and staff about that. Obviously, there are students impacted if they have family members or friends who have served in Iraq or are serving in Iraq, or if they are members of the Wisconsin National Guard or if they have lost a friend.
Meanwhile, Veninga discussed his own views on the lessons we’ve learned since that day five years ago. _______
But beyond that, you know what I really kind of sense — and I’ve heard this from others — that there is a bit of a withdrawal ... in the sense that this is very complex to understand what is happening in the world right now. And it is so complex, that perhaps it is so terrifying to some extent it may force one to go the road of lack of engagement on this and concentrate on oneself, one’s career goals, one’s profession, what one wants for one’s own life. We don’t see students, for instance, actively engaged in discussion of the Iraqi policy or Iraqi war or terrorism. _______
How did the events of Sept. 11 change the way you think about your own life and your own family? I think it’s had a rather profound impact, actually. It’s affected me in a number of ways. As campus dean, I am of course deeply concerned about the future of our students and the world in which they will live. I think it has encouraged us to do some things to adequately prepare students for the world that has changed. It’s had an impact on me in that my own discipline is history and religious studies. And it has forced me, I think, to look more deeply and look at the rise of fundamentalism in the modern world and the rise of radical Islam and to really try to understand the cultural and historical roots of this. _______ How did Sept. 11 change the way you think about the United States’ place in the world? Well, I think that’s really a combination of 9/11 and the way in which the country responded to 9/11. Those are two different things, but I think both are equally important. I think how we responded to what happened on 9/11 has created more problems, additional problems and challenges. And now we find ourselves in a very complex situation, and I think that the role of the United States in the world has shifted during this period of time. _______ What frightens you about the world? I guess what I would really say is that I don’t think we, the United States of America, have arrived at a foreign policy that is effective in dealing with this new phenomenon of radical
Anything else, Jim?
“There is a bit of a withdrawal ... in the sense that this is very complex to understand what is happening in the world right now. ... We don’t see students, for instance, actively engaged in discussion of the Iraqi policy or Iraqi war or terrorism.” — Jim Veninga, campus dean at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County
Let me just add that probably one of the mistakes that was made was rushing into a response too quickly, developing too quickly the foreign policy and military options of the country so that we framed what happened on 9/11 in such a way that it inevitably seemed to require this kind of response we have seen — and as a result an escalation of terrorism in the world. Somehow or another we have to get the best brains around to really come up with a new foreign policy that deals with the terrorist threat while at the same time trying to build new bridges to the Muslim community, and I think we need a much deeper understanding of the Islam faith. And we need moderates of all religions talking to each other because the solution to radical Islam, like radical Christianity or Judaism, anywhere radical fundamentalism seems to be unleashed, the response to that has got to come from the moderate community. It’s got to come from individuals within the communities working with those who hold these very difficult and frightening ideas.
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Wausau mom learns from New Yorkers M
ichelle Schaefer is a stay-at-home mother of two who was elected in April to the Wausau School Board. Her daughter, Alyssa, is a ninth-grader at Wausau West High School and her son, Nathan, is a seventh-grader at John Muir Middle School.
What frightens you about the world today? Do you live with a sense of danger at all with traveling or anything like that? My family loves to travel. My husband is going to be traveling to London. He’s leaving for New York (Tuesday), the day after Sept. 11. And, he’s going the week after to London. It’s not that I don’t think about it. I’ve always thought about safety of air travel. My son is going to the Netherlands with the People to People program and he’s traveling by himself next year. I hope that it doesn’t change how I travel, because then I think it would have affected me negatively instead of what positive things you can get from it and move forward.
Schaefer visited the site of the World Trade Center last October with her family. She believes her children and others can learn from New Yorkers. “When you see the people of New York, they aren’t afraid to get on subways anymore,” she said. “I think people (who) have lived through those (terrorist attacks), they are the example we should follow.” _______
_______ How did 9/11 change the way you think about your own life and your own family?
Where were you five years ago?
It didn’t teach me, but it reinforced that you take nothing for granted — relationships and people. I think that was probably the most important thing. _______
My girlfriend called me on the phone and I was getting my kids ready for school. And my girlfriend said, ‘Look at the TV.’ And then we were talking when the second plane hit. But my husband had been in New York for a business trip and he worked at the World Trade Center the day before. It was really a chilling reminder to me of what could happen and what didn’t, because usually he would travel for a week at a time and it was just a oneday business trip. It really hit home to me. So I just stayed glued to the TV because I have a sister in New York. It took me a while to get through to her.
How did 9/11 change the way you think about the United States’ place in the world? I think that there are many places in the world (where people) have had to be aware of terrorism and different issues. And, I think that that brought it on to our shores. I think we never thought in terms of those things before and I think it came to our doorstep now. So, you can’t ignore what happens in the world because it’s in our house now. _______ How do you deal with that being in your house? It’s been five years since it happened. We have an ongoing war, and the British government last month reported foiling a terrorist plot against the United States. How do you make sense of those things when you are trying to raise a family?
“I think you’re aware of your surroundings. You’re aware of what needs to be done when you go through an airport. ... Life has just changed the rules, but I don’t think you can go through life being afraid of what’s going to happen.”
I think that it’s not so much make sense of it. I think that (it’s) moving past it. It’s that life goes on. I mean I think one of the things is just seeing the resiliency of New Yorkers. They go out and live their lives every day. They’re not afraid to leave. I think you’re aware of your surroundings. You’re aware of what needs to be done when you go through an airport. It’s nothing to just go through security. Life has just changed the rules, but I don’t think you can go through life being afraid of what’s going to happen. _______
tem? How did 9/11 change the way you practice, or approach, your faith personally?
What about your belief sys-
I don’t think it changed how I
— Michelle Schaefer, on life since 9/11 practice my faith. I think that it was a really good lesson to see how Americans came together. Perhaps it restored my faith in
humanity a bit. Unfortunately, I don’t think that has continued necessarily. _______
Do you think people are more accepting than they were five years ago of different cultures and religions since there has been so much more exposure? ... There’s been more in the news about ‘What is Islam?’ I think some people need to be open to it. I think some people after 9/11 live more in fear. And I would hope for myself that I would choose not to live that way (and) to be open to more people. I think one good thing is there’s been concerted efforts to show that different religions — people are all the same. Children all play the same. Families all want the same things for their kids. I think, in that sense, there have been efforts to move it in that direction. And that would be my hope, when it comes down to it. Every mother wants the same thing for her children and that is to live a happy life and to have better than what they did. You know that the generations can move forward. All people want better for their children.
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Rocker puts fear aside, but loses trust R
No. I think a sense of danger
Wausau is a cab
is kind of installed, bad as it
driver and drum-
sounds, by the media. Things
mer for the “groovy
like Fox News. Especially televi-
chunk metal” band All Fear
sion news. They kind of seem
Aside. He was 19 years old
to prey on fear, and it seems to
when terrorists attacked the
work for them. _______
United States. He was living in Madison at the time, work-
Have you changed the way
ing second shift in a factory.
you go about your life since
The company did much of its
business overseas, and profits Yep. I stopped watching the
fell in the wake of the interna-
news. I stopped believing what
tional turbulence. He was laid
I hear and realizing it is only
off a few months later.
one side of the story, and the Like many, he said the attacks
side they want you to hear. So
made him appreciate life and
I’ve kind of unplugged from
his family, but world events
the system so as not to play
since have increased his distrust
into the fear. Because right
of government, the media and
after 9/11, I was certainly glued
to the TV like so many other
“I do love this country, and I
people and just feeding off it.
think everyone who lives here
I just realized that losing sleep
does,” said Ball, now 24. “But
wasn’t worth it. Just giving
we need to realize we have
into the fear, it’s not worth it
faults, too, and work on it.” _______
at all. That’s all they’re preying
How did the events of Sept. 11 make you think about your
fear sells too. _______
own life and your own family?
Do you remember your feel-
It made me realize that life is
ings when you saw the televi-
more precious than I had previ-
sion images from the attack
ously been under the assump-
and understood the scope of it
tion. Just being so young
at that time?
on. It’s like, sex sells — well,
(doesn’t mean) you don’t think
I do remember it. And I can
about that stuff. And it made
say, honestly, as soon as I start-
me pretty fearful for a while.
ed comprehending what was
About my own family, it just
taking place and accepting it,
made me appreciate them that
immediately I thought back to
much more. _______
diplomacy, and (asked) what
How did Sept. 11 change
We must have really upset
the way you think about the
some people to cause them to
United States’ place in the
go to such extreme measures.
And that really bothered me
(Sept. 11) has helped my realize that I do love my country, but I’m not very fond of my government. And they seem to be giving us the tarnished image that we have around the world, with people that aren’t very happy with us. It’s made me kind of lose faith in the system, I guess, of democracy and what we have going here. _______ Do you live with a sense of danger?
did we do to deserve this? ...
“I stopped believing what I hear and realizing it is only one side of the story, and the side (television news networks) want you to hear. ... That’s all they’re preying on. It’s like, sex sells — well, fear sells too.”
that our country was involved in that. I mean, these people wouldn’t have done what they did for no reason. We had to have pushed them this far to do this. I thought it was kind of upsetting. And I heard a lot of people talking, ‘Well, let’s just bomb them into oblivion or whatever.’ You know, the big bomb talk, if you will. ‘We’ll just destroy you so don’t mess with us.’ And I was think-
— Robert Ball, Wausau
ing, well, maybe we should just take a step back and talk about this.
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Congressman: We’re still too vulnerable to attack _______
n any serious conversation, Dave Obey inevitably launches into his sharp criticisms of the Bush administration on national security and foreign policy.
How did Sept. 11 change the way you think about your own life and family? I think it just increased everyone’s sense of the randomness that can invade your life. It hasn’t made a big change in the way I think. _______
It’s no wonder. Obey, a Wausau-born Democrat who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 37 years, believes his chief job as a member of Congress is to keep the White House in check.
How did Sept. 11 change the way you think about the United States’ place in the world, or did it?
And he believes this particular White House has run amok since 19 hijackers took control of four commercial airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania.
I don’t think it’s changed what I think about our place in the world. What I think it has done is to demonstrate that just because the Soviet Union is gone, that doesn’t mean the world isn’t still a very dangerous place. With the advent of technology, with the Internet, so much information is available to so many people, you have a greatly enhanced vulnerability to individual acts of terror.
Obey has his detractors, to be certain. To conservatives, particularly the two Republicans seeking to unseat him in Congress, Nick Reid and Jeff Tyberg, he is a symbol of entrenched liberalism. Or worse, he’s disloyal in a time of war.
There are consequences to actions taken that you don’t see for years. I have always regarded the people who died in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center that day as being the last casualties of the first war in Iraq. (Osama) bin Laden has told people that one of his motivating forces ... was the fact that the Saudi government relied on Americans to shield them from Saddam, and he was offended by that, so he wanted to drive us out of Saudi Arabia — 9/11 was just the latest manifestation of his efforts. _______
But Obey also was one of the key players in shaping the initial U.S. response to the Sept. 11 attacks, negotiating with the Bush administration to craft a $20 billion funding package. He has harped on what he sees as a disingenuous policy on homeland security, with the president promising tighter controls but rejecting the necessary spending. And Obey was there that morning when the plane flew over the nation’s capital. _______
Did you understand how deep that resentment and hatred was among bin Laden and people like him?
What were you doing that day, on Sept. 11? First, let me back up. In August, before 9/11, I was up at my cottage (in northern Wisconsin) where I am right now and I got a call from my staff director on the Appropriations Committee, Scott Lilly, who was being routinely briefed by the CIA. ... Scott called me and said, ‘Dave, I can’t talk about it over the phone, but we just got another briefing from the agency.’ And he said (then CIA director) George Tenet is very worried because there’s been a heavy amount of traffic, meaning signals, communications traffic, and he said it’s tapered off recently. And he said Tenet is very worried that there is an operation and they don’t know whether it is likely to be domestic or another hit in some foreign location. I returned to Washington after Labor Day. ... On that day (Sept. 11) we were scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. to sort out the defense appropriations bill for that year, and at that meeting we intended to offer an amendment ... that would have
“Cynics are a menace. But I do think people have a right to be skeptical. Any society that doesn’t retain its skepticism about its government does not maintain its liberties very long.” — U.S. Rep. Dave Obey cut $600 million from President Bush’s strategic defense initiative, the Star Wars plan, and moved it to counterterror initiatives. We never had a chance to have that meeting. (After House members learned about the attack on the World Trade Center), a Capitol police
officer said we had to evacuate immediately because they received a report of a plane in the air over Washington. As we opened the door to exit, we could see smoke in the air in the direction of the Pentagon. _______
Were you afraid for your life? No, not really. I kept thinking, my God, it would be a terrible thing if this spectacular building (the Capitol), if it were hit. But people were so busy, you didn’t have time to think about anything but what you had to do.
I don’t think anyone paid enough attention to what was happening intellectually in the Middle East and what kind of actions could evolve from that. ... Bin Laden did not want the West “infecting” the Saudi culture. _______ Before we went to war, were you seeing attention paid to Iraq as a mistake? We were being told by the administration that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that we had to do something about it. ... I voted against the resolution giving the president the authority to go war. I voted for the (U.S. Rep. John) Spratt amendment, which said, if the president didn’t get an agreement from the United Nations on a resolution on Iraq, it required him to come back to Congress again for authorization to go to war. The amendment died and so I voted against the authorization. _______
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 8 What about your belief system? How did Sept. 11 change the way you practice, or approach, your faith? I don’t think it’s changed anything in that regard. It has certainly changed the amount of time that I have to spend on certain subjects. But I don’t think it’s changed anything I believe. The biggest change it’s made on my life is when I get on an airplane ... like many Americans, it’s a big hassle. _______ What frightens you about the world today, or are you not frightened? I don’t find the world frightening. There are lots of bad people out there, and there always have been, and there probably always will be. What bothers me most is that after 9/11 the United States was more respectfully regarded by the rest of the world than at almost any time in our history ... and that was incredibly and unnecessarily dissipated by what Bush, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld did. I’m convinced that from the day George Bush walked into the White House, he was absolutely determined to go to war. _______ But won’t people think that’s just partisan politics coloring your viewpoint? I’ve been distrustful of every administration. It’s my job not to take anything at face value that comes from an administration. ... The job of Congress is to be an independent branch of
“We are always stronger when we have allies. We had them in spades after 9/11. ... We sort of symbolized the enlightenment of the world that was being attacked by the primitive. But then the policy that the administration followed drained that support away.” — U.S. Rep. Dave Obey government that conducts critical oversight of other branches of government... to make sure little people don’t get crushed by bigger people. _______ So are voters, your constituents, right to be skeptical and cynical about Washington? I don’t think anybody’s ever right to be cynical. Cynics are a menace. But I do think people have a right to be skeptical. Any society that doesn’t retain its skepticism about its government does not maintain its liberties very long. _______ You talk about distrust, and you talk about misunderstanding the Middle East. Of all this, what is the most significant lesson from Sept. 11?
I think the most significant thing is that it demonstrated that there are all kinds of vulnerabilities that we are exposed to, and many of those vulnerabilities have not been corrected. And most of all, this country still does not have a very good understanding of the Middle East. _______ Should people feel pessimistic? I wouldn’t be pessimistic if we changed policies. ... If we stay the course, am I pessimistic about the outcome? Absolutely. Iraq is going to be an absolute mess whenever we leave, and it’s going to be an absolute mess if we stay. ... It’s already obliterated as a country. I don’t see how, in the end, it doesn’t wind up being partitioned.
_______ What’s the fastest way out, then? There is no fast way out. _______ What’s the best way out? There is no best way out. ... The best shot we have is to say to the Iraqi government, you’ve got one month to get your act together and then you’ve got to tell us to leave, and once you tell us to leave we’ve got to set up a reasonable timetable to accomplish that feat. Iraq then has to set up a regional conference to respond to the withdrawal, and a donors conference to find the funding to patch up the huge amount of damage that’s been done to this country. _______
Would bin Laden’s capture make a big difference? Would I like to see bin Laden captured? Sure. Do I think that’s going to change the long-range dynamics if he is? No. We’ve managed to make us the issue in the Middle East. Before we invaded, Saddam was the issue, and Iran was the issue, and the Israeli-Palestinian fight was the issue. I favor what we’ve been doing in Afghanistan, but not Iraq. _______ Any final thoughts on Sept. 11 and where we stand five years later? I hope that what we get out of this is that we learn that we are always stronger when we have allies. We had them in spades after 9/11. ... We sort of symbolized the enlightenment of the world that was being attacked by the primitive. But then the policy that the administration followed drained that support away. I also hope that it would force Americans, especially those in government, to learn a whole lot more about these regions of the world. And lastly, I hope that it would teach the administration that if you’re going to make a huge decision that affects the world, you need to listen to many voices and different opinions from what you have. And if I could have one other wish, I would have wished that before we waded into Iraq, the president would have talked to his father, and with his father’s principle advisers.
Military mom prays for soldiers’ safety
arlene Albright, 62, of Gleason thought often about conflicts in the Middle East and across the world after her oldest daughter joined the military 20 years ago. But it was an ordinary day of work on Sept. 11, 2001, for Albright when she arrived that morning at the Super 8 in Merrill, where she was desk manager. Then a co-worker’s mother called to tell them to turn on the television. They spent the day like millions of other Americans, unable to stop watching the horror unfold. For Albright, the day’s events and the aftermath provided a reminder of why her family members have dedicated parts of their lives to defending freedom. _______ How has your family been part of the conflicts in the Middle East? My middle daughter (Kay Tylee of Fort Collins, Colo.) joined the Army Reserve right out of high school in 1986. She served until 1992 and was stationed stateside the entire time while she learned to be a hygienist. She convinced my eldest daughter, Kathy Hanson of Harrison, to join the Reserve in 1987. She was not so lucky and spent several months in Iraq in 1991 during Desert Storm.
After the attacks, my nephew’s son (Robbie Tesch of Wausau) was in the National Guard. He was based in New York at the time and went to New York City after the attacks to prevent looting. He later was deployed to Iraq, where he drove a transport truck. There, the truck hit a mine one day and his best friend died in Robbie’s arms. Robbie returned to Wausau in January 2005. _______ How have the terrorist attacks changed your life and your family’s life? As a family you grow a lot closer, knowing that if it happened once, it could happen any day. You have to be prepared for it and it has changed my outlook on life. We don’t want this to happen again. If we have to take care of the terrorists, let’s take care of them in their own country. _______ How did the terrorist attacks affect your faith? I have stronger belief in God. I attend Lutheran Memorial Church in Gleason regularly. I prayed for the soldiers when my daughters were in the military, but I began to pray for them again. I pray to keep our country safe and for the soldiers to be safe so they can come home. _______
How have your thoughts changed on the country’s place in the world or how life has changed here since? I have five grandchildren, ages 7 months to 14 years. I wonder what are the kids going to have when they grow up? It makes you stop and think how things are going to be different for them. _______ What frightens you about the world today? I’ve never been one to be afraid or look behind my shoulder to see who is behind me. When I worked at the motel, I saw so many people over my 13 years, they became like friends. I live each day to the fullest, because you never know what tomorrow brings. _______ Your husband was a Vietnam War-era veteran, and your daughters and other family members have military experience. How has that affected your view on the events in the Middle East? I know the soldiers are doing a good job over there. The press has so much of the gory stuff. A lot of the local soldiers who have come back have written about the good job they are doing over there and how many of the Iraqi people appreciate them. They have done a lot for their country.
“I have five grandchildren. ... I wonder what are the kids going to have when they grow up? It makes you stop and think how things are going to be different for them.” — Darlene Albright of Gleason
I N T E R V I E W B Y J E F F S TA R C K • P H O T O B Y C O R E Y S C H J O T H • W A U S A U D A I LY H E R A L D
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REFLECTIONS ON 9/11
Firefighter recalls riding high before planes hit S
ept. 10, 2001, was one of the best days of Tadd Wegener’s life.
Wegener, 42, who lives in Tomahawk and works as a lieutenant in the Merrill Fire Department, took his oldest son to a Milwaukee Brewers game that night. They left the game with fond memories that will last forever. Hours later, Wegener was left with another memory that will last forever as he and his fellow firefighters watched thousands die when the World Trade Center towers collapsed. _______ What stands out the most for you about Sept. 11? My sister, my son — who was 6 at the time — and I had a trip planned to see the Brewers play. The biggest reason we went was so that (his son) Turner could see (former St. Louis Cardinals player Mark) McGwire play. They were good tickets, too. Right on the third-base line, second row. I got those tickets for a reason, because most players are righthanders and I figured we’d have a good chance at catching a foul ball.
thing like that happened here. I know we live in small-town America, but we have an eightstory building near the station. I remember thinking, ‘What if someone flew into that?’ Then I thought about the contingency plan of a plane flying into a building more than 100 stories high. It was mind-boggling. _______
At that time, McGwire was having some back pain, and he was on the injured reserve list quite a bit, but he made that game, one of his last games, too. Anyway, he jacked a ball for a home run. He hit it so hard to center field that, when it hit the scoreboard, you could just hear a loud WHACK! I took a picture of my son, standing by the railing with a picture of McGwire on the JumboTron in the background. And, later in the game, he got two foul balls from the game itself. One was from a foul ball by (Cardinals player) Albert Pujols. _______ And then? We left in the eighth inning but, after dropping my sister off, we didn’t get home until like 2:30 in the morning. Turner slept most of the way home, but in each hand, he was clutching one of those foul balls. He wouldn’t let go of them. I slept in a different bed that night so I wouldn’t wake my wife up, and I remember lying there, just thinking. I had a big grin on my face, and I guess I realized how important that moment was. _______
You have three children. How do you deal with the subject of Sept. 11 with your kids? They’re getting older; they’re starting to understand the magnitude of what happened. I think it’s time for me to explain everything to them about what happened, because they’re asking about it. _______ Do the older children know a little bit about Sept. 11?
“We knew that other firefighters and police were doing their job, helping get people out of those buildings, but we also knew that a bunch of people had perished. I remember wondering what would happen if something like that happened here.” — Lt. Tadd Wegener, Merrill firefighter
Your emotions soon changed. What happened next? I got up at about 5:30 a.m. to go to work. It’s about a 20-minute drive. Anyway, shortly after 8 a.m., one of the firefighters’ wives called the station and said that something very serious was happening in New York, telling us to turn the television on. _______
What was it like watching that with other firefighters? We immediately turned the station to ABC with Peter Jennings. We watched that telecast the whole time. ... Some of us got to talking about how something like this had happened before. Someone
brought up the fact that some plane hit the Empire State Building in World War II. We just talked and thought that it was odd that another plane would hit a building, this time the World Trade Center. Then another one hit, and it got very quiet. Not a word was
said. We knew something bad was happening at that point. We knew that other firefighters and police were doing their job, helping get people out of those buildings, but we also knew that a bunch of people had perished. I remember wondering what would happen if some-
Turner, he’s 11 now, and he sort of knows what happened. And Cullen, he’s 9, and he’s very aware of what happened. But Jeffery, he’s only 7. He’s only beginning to understand. _______ What will you tell them? I’ve had this truck since ’92, and it has this sticker on it that says, ‘Support our Troops.’ It’s a union sticker. Also, on my locker at work, I’ve kept this bumper sticker (from a local television station), with a picture of the Twin Towers smoking, with the planes on the horizon, and if you turn the sticker to the side, the picture turns into stars and stripes. Anyway, on that sticker, it says, ‘We will never forget.’ That’s how I’ll explain it to them. _______ What are you afraid of, now, that you weren’t before Sept. 11, 2001? I fear that we’ll grow complacent, and something like this will happen again.
I N T E R V I E W B Y J A K E R I G D O N • P H O T O S B Y C O R E Y S C H J O T H • W A U S A U D A I LY H E R A L D
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REFLECTIONS ON 9/11
Doctor, injured in Iraq, sees ripples of 9/11 D
r. John Williams Sr., a physician at Aspirus Occupational Health in Wausau and Wisconsin Rapids, was sitting in a dentist’s chair in Marshfield five years ago when he heard a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Since then, Williams, a veteran of the U.S. Navy Reserve, has been called up for active duty and served 10 months in Iraq. He sees the connection between the two events. _______ For many Americans, this event is seared in their minds. I remember when President John F. Kennedy was shot. It was a defining moment. I lived in Dallas at the time, where I was a first-grade student. As a 6-year-old, I didn’t grasp the concept, except the most important person in the world was killed. The next thing we knew, they were swearing in a new president. The common thing about events like Kennedy’s assassination, the space shuttle Challenger explosion and 9/11 is they were something that no one ever thought could happen. If a volcano erupts in Borneo and kills 10,000 people, we’re sad, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Nobody thought this could happen. _______ How do you think the events of Sept. 11 changed Americans?
As Americans, we thought we were fairly immune from this sort of thing happening. With the exception of German subs in the Gulf and in the Atlantic during World War II and the Japanese dropping bombs, we’ve really been untouched in world conflicts. We had a false sense of security. We’ve seen tremendous changes in the way we travel and the way we think of the risk of something happening. Prior to 9/11, you really didn’t think about terrorism. There were metal detectors at the airports, but the last hijacking of a plane in the United States was long ago. It didn’t seem as relevant. Sept. 11 made us realize the United States was not immune from terrorist attacks. If you look back to the initial bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, maybe we should have been putting things together. _______ You’ve been in the Navy Reserve for 17 years. How do you view the reservists’ role and your active duty in Iraq? I joined in 1989; a year later, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. I think it was the largest recall of National Guard members and reservists in the
country’s history. I spent eight months at a military hospital in Portsmouth, Va. Between 1991 and 2001, I went to drill one weekend a month and served my two weeks each year. If we were lucky, we got to go overseas on some humanitarian mission to Africa, South America or Central America. After that, the government started reconsidering the role of the Guard and Reserve and began troop reductions. I think now they realize the National Guard and the Reserve are essential to the country’s ability to fight the global war on terror. I spent a little over a year on active duty in 2004 and part of 2005, including 10 months in Iraq, assigned to civil affairs units. As a public health officer, I worked with local people to build clinics, refurbish hospitals and get supplies and medicine in Ramadi in the Anbar province west of Baghdad. We also worked to encourage physicians to open new practices. As such, we went outside the camp regularly. Beginning that March, things really started to heat up. Four contractors were killed in Fallujah. Our convoy was attacked and a number of people in our vehicle were injured, including me. A week later, Marines were killed in a big firefight. I was attached to a unit that helped liberate a hospital that was being held by insurgents. They were using it as a command center, and they knew being a hospital it was an unlikely target. Seeing the insurgents after they were captured put a face on the insurgency. They were scared when we walked in with helmets, body armor and weapons, but they could see we weren’t there to torture or kill them. We treated them humanely; perhaps that dispelled the myth we were out to destroy the hospital. Several of the patients were severely injured, and it broke your heart. There were kids who’d been there several days with missing limbs or wounds to their chests and heads after their village had been attacked. There were no antibiotics or dressings. One father grabbed my hand and he cried and begged me to help his children. The children did not scream or cry; they just had sad looks on their faces. We got them to a hospital in Fallujah. Later, we found out they were OK. It was great to get that feedback. It made it feel like taking that risk in going in was worthwhile. I’m sure there were instances where people didn’t make it.
_______ How have the events of Sept. 11 and the conflict in Iraq affected you? In the initial attacks, some 3,000 people died. Close to 3,000 members of the military have died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since then. And there have been thousands of Iraqis killed as well. We’ll never realize what those people could have been or what they could have done with their lives. I’ve seen estimates where each person killed on 9/11 probably had significant contact with 500 people — friends, relatives, people they knew or worked with. If you multiply those 3,000 times 500, that’s 1.5 million people who were directly impacted. That’s a pretty big number. There’s probably another 1.5 million who’ve been affected by the conflicts, not to mention the toll on Iraqis. It’s just tragic one terrible attack could affect that many people. I lost friends. I served with one, a lieutenant colonel who took a job with the coalition’s provisional authority, who was ambushed and killed. Another was a major; we worked to build a hospital in the desert and he was killed a little over a year ago after he’d stayed for another tour. I think about them quite a bit. _______ How has the United States’ place in the world changed? In the Anbar province, the majority of people are Sunnis who were among Saddam’s minority that ruled Iraq. They had legitimate worries about being disenfranchised with Saddam removed from power. If we can win their hearts and minds, I think we’ll have accomplished something. I was never told to get out; nobody ever said we don’t want you here. If anything, they said please don’t leave too soon. Some passed along notes, because they were too afraid the insurgents would see them talking with us and retaliate. A lot of people — doctors, officials from the Ministry of Health — working with us risked their lives. We could go back to our camp and be relatively safe behind barbed wire and sentries. They had to go back to their neighborhoods and homes with little protection, knowing they might get a knock on the door in the middle of the night and be snatched. Some had to choose between taking care of their families and fleeing the country and their sense of duty to their homeland. Hopefully, the country will be safe enough for them to go back. It’s all a ripple effect from 9/11.
“Seeing the insurgents after they were captured put a face on the insurgency. They were scared when we walked in with helmets, body armor and weapons, but they could see we weren’t there to torture or kill them.” — John Williams Sr., Wausau physician
I N T E R V I E W B Y A M Y O L S O N • P H O T O B Y R O B O R C U T T • W A U S A U D A I LY H E R A L D
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REFLECTIONS ON 9/11
College student felt so far from home T
anya Resch, now 23, was away from home for the first time when the hijackers struck.
on their way to work in the towers and then they were late, and that extra time saved their lives because they avoided the attack. Stories like that renewed my faith. _______
As a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the Birnamwood native was stunned by the day’s events.
What do you remember from that memorial service? The service was held at the campus’ ecumenical center. At the service, there were a lot of people and everyone got up and talked about their connection with what happened. There was a lot of crying, a lot of sharing and people were really connecting with each other over the whole event. _______
Now, after graduating in May with a degree in early childhood education, Resch is preparing for her first “real world” job as a kindergarten teacher at St. Andrew Catholic School in Delavan. _______ Where were you when the attacks of Sept. 11 happened? I was at school in Green Bay working at the Disability Services Office. I found out when my boss came into work and told us. At first, the magnitude of it didn’t hit me until I saw it on TV. It didn’t seem real. _______
Do you think that connection still exists? I think, right after, people really pulled together, but we got away from that. After the British foiled the recent attempt (of what is believed to have been another planned hijacking of commercial airliners), I think we saw people pull together a little again. You saw more people talking about it with other people again, and that’s not something we’ve really seen much in the last couple of years. _______
When you saw it for the first time, what were you thinking? I was walking through the underground tunnels on campus (that connect various parts of campus) and there were TVs set up all over. At one TV there was a huge crowd gathered around just staring at it. People were crying. It was unbelievable. _______
What frightens you about the world today? Do you live with a sense of danger? There’s nothing that really scares me, but I’m more aware that we’re not as safe as we thought we were even though we’re the United States and we’re a powerful country. _______
How did it affect your first time away from home? I think it hit me harder because I wasn’t at home and I was far from my family. I wanted to be home. I wanted to be with people that I loved and cared about, especially since I had only been at school for a week when it happened. _______
Have you changed the way you go about your life since Sept. 11, 2001? Not really. I just try to appreciate more what I have and try to appreciate my family more. I take each day as it comes. _______
How did you spend the rest of that day? I called my mom and my roommate and I sat and watched CNN all day. _______ How did the events of Sept. 11 change the way you think about the United States’ place in the world? I think it was a wake-up call that there are a lot of people out there who don’t like us, and we aren’t as safe as we like to think we are. _______
“I wanted to be home. I wanted to be with people that I loved and cared about, especially since I had only been at school for a week when it happened.” — Tanya Resch, Birnamwood native
What about your belief system? How did the terrorist attacks change the way you practice, or approach, your faith? At first, I was angry and had a hard time with everything. I kept wondering how God could let this happen. Then I
went to church for a memorial prayer service and that strengthened my faith and made me turn to God. I began
to see the good that came out of 9/11. _______
What good? The generosity of people and the stories from some people about how they were
Do you think it will affect the way you teach? I think on some level it will, but with kindergarten it’s hard. These kids weren’t even born when Sept. 11 happened, or if they were, they were only 1 year old. Subconsciously it may, but probably not very much. _______ If something were to happen again, how would you explain it to your students? You have to be careful when telling kids things like this. You can’t tell them too much because they’ll be scared, but too little will leave them in the dark. You have to find a balance between what they need to know and the things that are going to scare them.
I N T E R V I E W B Y J O C E LY N B E R K H A H N • P H O T O B Y R O B O R C U T T • W A U S A U D A I LY H E R A L D
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REFLECTIONS ON 9/11
Veteran sees parallels to another war W
hen Nao Shoua Xiong, 51, of Wausau watched the television coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, his thoughts immediately turned back 26 years. It was another war, another time, another place, but Xiong saw the similarities between the death and destruction in New York, Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania and the pain and violence of the end of the so-called Secret War in Laos. In 1975, when Xiong’s leader Gen. Vang Pao left Laos, it ended years of U.S.backed fighting of Laotian and Vietnamese communists. Xiong had been fighting since 1970, joining the Hmong guerrilla forces after his father had been killed on the front lines. He eventually became a lieutenant in the Hmong army and continued to fight Laotian communists after Vang Pao left Laos. He was wounded once. Now he’s a clan leader and vice president of the Wisconsin Lao Veterans of America. Xiong compares the war on terrorism with the war on communism, and the events of Sept. 11 with the Vietnam War. The United States won the war on communism; we’ll win the
war on terrorism, too, he said. He spoke in both English and through an interpreter, Xai Kha of the Wausau Daily Herald. _______ How did the attacks on Sept. 11 change the way you think about your own life? During that time, I’m looking at the TV, and I’m thinking of May 14, 1975, and Gen. Vang Pao and the American CIA pullout of the country (Laos). During that time, our soldiers and our Hmong community, everybody cry. How can we go? The communists will take over. Everybody cry at the time. It’s like Sept. 11 in my mind. _______ How did Sept. 11 change the way you think about the United States’ place in the world? I have experience in war. The communists planned to come to this country, and have many plans to take over in war. But now there are only a couple of countries that are communist. Many countries now have freedom and are like the United States. Since I think about that, I think the government wants to fight the enemy before they plan to come to this country and destroy this country.
We must promote the security. We must find the enemy before they come to this country. We must protect this country. _______ Did Sept. 11 change your belief system, or change the way you practice or approach your faith? (Xiong is a shaman, and as such believes in the spirits of deceased relatives.) No. Wars can happen. Wars are caused by man only. It’s not about (the spiritual). That’s my opinion. In every war there are always solutions, negotiations about that. _______ You’ve lived with war almost all your life. Are you tired of war? Do you think it will ever end? Yes, I’m tired of it. But things will happen that make it necessary. Any war, or any problem with a family, comes from a misunderstanding. A family may not understand each other, and it can end up violent. It’s the same thing (with nations) and that’s why they end up with wars. They don’t understand each other and it leads to conflict.
“A family may not understand each other, and it can end up violent. It’s the same thing (with nations) and that’s why they end up with wars. They don’t understand each other and it leads to conflict.” — Nao Shoua Xiong, Wausau
I N T E R V I E W B Y K E I T H U H L I G • P H O T O B Y R O B O R C U T T • W A U S A U D A I LY H E R A L D
For one family, Sept. 11 is a happy day
t the Trzebiatowski household in Rosholt, there’s little chance of forgetting older daughter Jenna’s birthday. Jenna turns 5 today. “We didn’t know if we were going to have a boy or a girl,” said her mother, Tammy Trzebiatowski, 32, who teaches ninth-grade physical sciences at D.C. Everest Junior High School. “Everything was going as planned.” Tammy and her husband, Joe, arrived at the hospital around 7 a.m.; they turned on the television sometime after the first plane hit the World Trade Center and they watched the coverage with disbelief until Jenna was born around 9 p.m. _______ What was it like bringing a daughter into a world turned upside down on Sept. 11, 2001? It was very emotional. It was so strange, to be so excited to be having a child when so many other families were hurting from losing
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loved ones. It was almost unreal. _______ Your daughter’s short life has been marked by other international events. What was significant about the day of your daughter’s baptism at St. Adalbert’s Catholic Church in Rosholt, besides her christening? It was the day the United States started bombing in Afghanistan. It’s funny, because acquaintances remember her birthday. With so many tumultuous events taking place in her short life, our friends and relatives told us they hoped the day Sydney, our 1-year-old daughter, was born would be less eventful. _______ How did Sept. 11 change your life as a teacher? That year, the annual junior high school field trip to Washington, D.C., that I’d gone on as a chaperon in years past was canceled as a precaution. When it resumed the next year, some parents were still fearful.
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The way I felt was I should go, or the terrorists would have taken away my freedom. While it’s important to be cautious, I didn’t want them to take that away, or they would win. I was glad when parents did not allow their fears to stand in the way. Visiting the Pentagon and seeing the memorial was chilling. _______ Has Sept. 11 changed the way you think about your family? Our families have always been close-knit. Jenna is our first child, and she’s the oldest grandchild, and her arrival was much-anticipated. It was followed by many visits from family members. Would that have been different if she’d been born another day? I don’t know. It seemed like life was just a little more precious, and the events showed how quickly all that could be taken away. _______ Has Sept. 11 changed the way you view the United States’ role on
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the world stage? It opened my eyes that we were not so well-liked. It made me see that it’s important for us to stand up for what we believe in. We need to be united. We elected President George Bush, and whether we think that was right or wrong, we need to stand together. _______ What frightens you about the world today? Do you live with a sense of danger? I feel a little sense of danger. Each time the terror alert is raised, or once again there was a plot to hijack planes from Europe, it brings back memories of 9/11. That day, my father was on his way to California to visit my sister, and my brother-in-law was on his way to China, so we were a bit worried. We can’t stop doing things, though, because if we do, in a way, the terrorists have won if they’ve taken away our freedom. _______ How is the world in which Jenna
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is growing up different from the one from your childhood? Growing up during the Cold War, I remember fears about nuclear war (and) the Star Wars program from President Ronald Reagan’s years in office. In some ways, the threat at the time seemed very real, but somehow the world seems less stable now. _______ How will you view Sept. 11 in the course of your family’s history? I’ll always remember it as a happy day for us, but we know other families lost loved ones. We bought our house in Rosholt that June, just months before Jenna was born. Each year on Jenna’s birthday, we hang a new flag at our house. It became our tradition. _______ How will you mark the five-year anniversary? We’ll hang a new flag. We’ll celebrate Jenna’s birthday with cake and ice cream. With her starting school this fall, that will be the milestone foremost in our minds.
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REFLECTIONS ON 9/11
For Ground Zero volunteer, American generosity shines O
n Dec. 19, 2001, and for the two weeks that followed, Donna Schuh of Wausau worked at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. She was the second local person to be called to New York by The Salvation Army after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
the way you practice, or approach, your faith?
“I felt compelled to do something,” Schuh said. “I called them. I pondered this for probably a good month and a half. I couldn’t let it rest.”
I think what you did was a big thing.
I always thought to make a difference you had to do something pretty big. I realize now that you don’t have to. You can do something little and it can make a difference. _______
Oh, no. That was little. For two weeks my skill was listening. It wasn’t crisis counseling. I was at the pit. It was as simple as handing out a hot cup of coffee, a smile, ‘You look tired,’ ‘Here’s a chair,’ ‘I’m listening.’ ... We were doing basic survival for people.
Schuh, a psychology instructor at Northcentral Technical College, spent much of her time working in the food tents set up around Ground Zero, listening and talking to the people responsible for cleaning up the rubble. She talked to firefighters, truck drivers, dockworkers, morgue officials, sanitation department employees and detectives, among others.
_______ What frightens you about the world today? Do you live with a sense of danger? During my daily routine, I don’t think about this stuff. I don’t live with a sense of danger. Although I think things aren’t as predictable as they used to be, especially with travel. You see a bombing in London, Madrid. You see randomness. That’s different. But because we live in central Wisconsin I don’t think about it very much. When I went to New York, Washington, D.C., in 2004 (for an event involving her daughter, Denise) they were talking about what was going to happen during the next four days. Then they had this thing that talked about ‘If there’s a terrorist attack, here’s what you do.’ That just struck me. We talk about tornado preparedness around here, not terrorist preparedness.
She listened to a first responder who told the story of how he survived the attack on Sept. 11. She talked to a man who had missed only four days of working at the site since the attack. And she talked to a 23-year-old mother of two who lost her husband, a firefighter, in the attack. _______ How did Sept. 11 change the way you think about your own life and family? Our family has always been very close. I think right after the attack, I thought, ‘What if that happened to us? ... Don’t take your family for granted.’ Over time, when the imminent disaster is over, you sort of lapse back into the routine. But in more recent days, as we see these bombings on TV, that feeling comes back to me. My family is my tremendous support. _______ Did you have a desire to bring your family together at that time? Denise (Schuh’s daughter) was still in high school. I felt my family was safe. ... I felt a real importance to my students because they needed to talk about it. So I spent time in class. I thought it was really important for them to talk about it, to process their feelings. We spent quite a bit of time doing that in all of my classes. ... I thought routine was important, predictability was important, at an unpredictable time. _______ How did Sept. 11 change the way you think about the United States’ place in the world? I don’t think that my views on that have changed. I am amazed at the strength of the
“Now our country has a lot of issues, a lot of problems, but when you see what I saw, it was truly amazing. The generosity of our people is amazing, goods, warehouses full of materials, donations of time, individuals donating, businesses donating.” — Donna Schuh, Wausau people in our country. We as a nation can pull together, people of all walks of life working together. I’ll never forget that. That made me even more patriotic. It made me very proud. ...
Now our country has a lot of issues, a lot of problems, but when you see what I saw, it was truly amazing. The generosity of our people is amazing, goods, warehouses full of
materials, donations of time, individuals donating, businesses donating. _______ What about your belief system? How did Sept. 11 change
Have you changed the way you go about your life? I really haven’t. Not here. I think it’s geography. I don’t know if I would if I lived in New York City. When I was there and in the subway going to the World Trade Center site, a lady saw my disaster pack. She asked how long I’d be there. (Two weeks.) She said I was lucky. ‘You get to go home,’ she said. ‘I have to live here.’ And she was in tears. _______ Does Sept. 11, 2001, seem like a lifetime ago? Or just yesterday? Sometimes it feels like a long time ago ... but today, for this interview, I’ve been looking through my things, what I brought home, letters from people I met there, and it can all come home in a minute. ... In Wausau, with all the construction, I see broken concrete and rebar, just the sight of it, it can take me right back and I was there only two weeks.
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WDH Monday, Sept. 11 N015 BW
CYAN MAGENTA YELLOW BLACK
REFLECTIONS ON 9/11
Small-town boy lives through big-city attacks _______
ew people have the perspective on terrorist attacks that 31-year-old Clay Norrbom has gained in the past five years.
How did Sept. 11 change the way you think about the United States’ place in the world? There was a tremendous amount of sympathy for the U.S. (from the rest of the world). You could definitely feel that our standing was about as high as it had been in a long time the weeks after that. I could definitely feel that.
A native of Shawano County’s small town of Eland, Norrbom was living in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, and currently resides in London. Training for his new job with Citibank, he was within eyesight of the World Trade Center when it was hit by planes, and one of the London transit bombs in July 2005 exploded on a route Norrbom regularly takes.
The second part of the answer would be more of my political statement: I think it’s amazing that we seem to have gone from that much of an outpouring toward us ... to so many people having a pretty dim view of the U.S. It’s not anti-Americans — that’s with an ‘s’ — but in the five years ... after that initial period of the tremendous sympathy, I’ve definitely felt the pendulum swing. _______
Norrbom, a vice president in the corporate banking department for Citibank in London, and his wife, Jennifer Eikren, recently had their first child, Werner Norrbom, who is 9 months old. He talked in a telephone interview from London about Sept. 11 and his life since then. _______
What frightens you about the world today? Do you live with a sense of danger?
Where were you on Sept. 11 and how did you hear about the attacks?
This is something that I go back and forth about a lot, not so much in my own mind but with talking to the rest of my family. ... It is reality that Eland, Wis., where I’m from, or Wausau, are not going to be targets that the Londons and New Yorks of the world are going to be. You can’t help but to be a little conscious of that. In the whole scope of things, I don’t let it impact my day-to-day life.
My office building in New York was about 10 blocks or so from the Trade Center site. I had just joined the company. I was in a training course in a different center across the East River in Queens. I was in about a 40story building, which had a real good view of the Manhattan skyline. It was right across the river and it was one of great things about it, that it looks over the skyline. We were just starting our day. Somebody had come in to say, ‘Oh, did you hear? One of the Trade Center buildings is on fire.’ Everybody then left the training room and went to one of the sides of the building where we could see it. ... And then while we were there, standing, looking at it, we saw the other plane fly into the second building. As soon as the second one hit, people were screaming, people ran out of the building we were in. To me we were a long ways away from it, but it was an instant reaction that everybody knew the gravity of what was going on. _______ How do you think that affected your perspective vs. most of us who watched it on television? It’s hard for me to know how it compares to how it impacted other people. A lot of people were watching it on television in a similar fashion where they turned the TV on because they heard the first news and then were watching TV live when it hit. Maybe a lot of people had that similar reaction. Whenever I see it replayed on something, it definitely ... there’s a feeling in my stomach about it — the fact that I did see it. ... It was something I was thinking about on the walk home
“It’s an amazing irony how the bad events like that really bring out a lot of humanity.” — Clay Norrbom, Eland native, currently in London tonight, knowing we were going to be having this conversation. It makes all the memories from the day pretty vivid. I probably will remember most of the things about that day for a long, long time. _______ How did the experience of being in New York on Sept. 11 affect the way you felt after the terrorist attacks in London? The reaction on the day, it was different for some reason. I don’t know exactly why. Maybe because there wasn’t quite the visual image of it. Not just for me, but for everybody. It was odd because in many ways, in New York the building where I worked was pretty
close to the Trade Center. But in the whole scope of things I wasn’t really there hardly even. It would have had to have been a very unlucky day that I happened to be there. I wasn’t really in danger there. The thing in London arguably could have been the train I was on, it was in my path — my normal commute. In a way, it was a closer call. The experience in New York definitely put me in tune with how worried my family would be (after the London attack), especially the fact of being all the way over here. I definitely had it marked on the clock to try to call (my family) way before they would’ve woke up so they
wouldn’t have to see it. Somehow my parents managed to get up before that. Sure enough, my mother beat me to the call. _______ How did Sept. 11 change the way you think about your own life and your own family? Both being in New York and being over here, it’s difficult being away from the rest of the family. Those kind of events have a way of focusing that and making the distance that much harder because you know that there is that inherent worry when you’re farther away and living in cities that are arguably targets.
I tell the rest of my family, although back home you might not have to worry about (terrorist attacks), you do drive around in cars and you do everything like that, there are tragedies all around. Every time I talk to someone from home there’s someone who passed away, a drunken driving accident, or whatever it may be. One highschooler killed by a drunken driver in Wittenberg or Eland, as a proportion of the population, is quite a bit bigger tragedy than what one of these events are compared to the population of a New York or a London. _______ Anything you’d like to add? It’s an amazing irony how the bad events like that really bring out a lot of humanity, I thought. I guess I don’t really have anything to back that up. But it’s definitely a feeling in those days after and the day that they occurred, the people in the city are just a little more polite to each other. It’s a lot of little things: The pace is slower, people maybe stop and think of things other than work, think more about family. They’re just generally nicer to each other. It’s been an amazing take-away for me from the thing. You hate to think it takes something so bad in order to elevate people in that way.
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