Twenty years have gone by
For those who were adults or older children when September 11, 2001, happened, we remember. It has been twenty years since that horrific day when terrorists attacked the United States using commercial airplanes as their weapons.
A young family friend of mine was in the first grade. When his teacher asked the students to draw a picture to depict an event of 9/11, this little boy drew a picture of a man falling from a tall building. That had been one of the images put out by the news media. People tried to escape the inferno of the Twin Towers. This man jumped to his death. That little boy was impressed. He is now in his mid twenties.
An adult friend was living in California. He was planning to go to Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001, on an American Airlines plane. He decided to change his plans and went a day earlier. If he had not changed his flight, he would have been on the plane which crashed into the Pentagon. He is thankful to be alive.
My wife and I had just returned to our home in Sandy, Utah, on September 10, 2001. I had been invited to participate in a commemoration event in Tokyo, Japan, on September 8. It was the fifty year anniversary of the peace treaty with Japan. A similar event was held in San Francisco.
The Treaty of San Francisco or Treaty of Peace with Japan was to reestablish peaceful relations with Japan and the Allied Powers. It was signed by 49 nations on September 8, 1951, in San Francisco, California. It was on behalf of the United Nations by ending the legal state of war. [From Wikipedia]
Japan's Prime Minister at that time, The Honorable Joichiro Koizumi, was the main speaker at the event in Tokyo. Former Vice President Dan Quayle was representing the Government of the United States. I had been invited to represent Americans of Japanese heritage. I was the National President on the Board of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) at that time. The JACL was organized in 1929. It is the oldest and largest Asian American civil and human rights organization in the United States.
The trip had not started out that great. When we arrived in Japan, our main piece of luggage could not be found. It was the suitcase which contained the clothes we had intended to wear to the 50 Year Anniversary event for which we had come to Tokyo. It necessitated going to shop for new clothes, having a suit made, and buying new shoes plus all other items we would need. We were able to get the new clothes in time. The suitcase was never recovered by the airlines even after we returned home.
The anniversary event went well. It was an honor to meet and participate with such dignitaries on an historic occasion. My wife and I were also able to see some family members during the trip.
Because I had entered a golf tournament which was to be held on September 11 in Salt Lake City, we scheduled our return flight so that we would get home on the 10th of September. We arrived home that evening as planned. Since I am not bothered by jet lag, I was able to get up the next morning without any trouble. I drove to the golf tournament. When I arrived, people were gathered around the television in the clubhouse at the golf course. The news was reporting the attacks at the Twin Towers in New York City. It was horrific and terrifying. I had been to the Twin Towers and was familiar with the area. I called my wife to tell her that she should turn on the TV.
My close friend, The Honorable Norman Mineta, is a Japanese American who was serving as the Secretary of the Department of Transportation under President George W. Bush. Secretary Mineta immediately grounded all the domestic planes. We were fortunate to make it home before that happened.
Secretary Mineta had been incarcerated with his family in a World War II American concentration camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming. He was a young boy at that time. President Bush knew that story. They did not want to see happen to American Muslims what had happened to Japanese Americans during difficult times.
Because of our history with the camps, we in the JACL also wanted to ensure that Americans were treated fairly. We put out a press release to warn against the dangers of racial profiling of innocent Americans who may have similar appearances as the terrorists.
We remember the victims of 9/11. There were so many who lost their lives on that fateful day. We wish their families well as they remember them on this day and always.
Many experiences came out of 9/11. Hopefully, peace will reign in the United States and the world so that such horrific incidences will not occur in the future.
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