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article imageOp-Ed: Rambling Thoughts on 9/11

By Romeo Marquez     Sep 8, 2011 in Politics
New York - A decade of mass killings in the name of 9/11 have been waged by governments on shadowy groups in the world's flashpoints. Are we any safer?
I was in Ground Zero four years after the fact. That was in September 2005. I thought the length of time would help heal the anguish and pain of those left behind by the victims.
I was wrong.
I had no known relatives nor friends who had perished on that fateful day 10 years ago. But I feel a greater loss in seeing the triumph of hate.
I see the vengeful cravings for more deaths and the satisfaction in achieving them.
I see no end to the cycle of violence and misery imposed by one people on another, and another, until the violence became habitual and miseries a way of life.
A collage of the timelines of the Sept. 11  2001 attacks.
A collage of the timelines of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Violence begets violence. Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. That was Ground Zero. That's the lesson of Ground Zero. Many times over, the "Ground Zeroes" are in the subconscious even as the mind tries endlessly to fathom the reasons for such violence.
The nearly 3,000 lives lost would never be compensated ever, for it's not just the physical death we mourn; it's the little deaths in us of every fiber of our humanity.
But even with this grim reality, I pray for justice. Is killing another justice?
In the name of 9/11, deaths have multiplied many times over - children, innocent civilians, women, non-combatants. Do we grieve or do we find comfort in knowing the New York victims had been avenged just as horribly?
My nephew joined the United States Navy as soon as he turned 18 for the self-driven purpose of wanting to be in the forefront as a corpsman, a medic, and not as a combatant.
His father - my brother - and his wife hesitated, understandably. I didn't. Not for the reason that I wanted him to risk dying for us as he tries to save lives, no.
I wanted him to show that in his own peculiar way, he could stand up for what was wrong with 9/11. Thank God he survived living dangerously . . . on the edge, putting his own life on the line for the lives of others.
Even before the hunting and killing expeditions by armies of the free world, the counting of the dead on the other side had already begun in my mind.
If an eye for an eye drove governments to sanction murders, then justice isn't served.
Was there justice in having thousands of lives ended as collateral damage? Justice upholds values; it is not a license to kill or maim for the sake of disabling the enemy.
** ** **
In my New York coverage on Sept. 11, 2005, I wrote the following:
A makeshift cross (as it looked in 2005) is made from burnt steel collected from the rubble of the c...
A makeshift cross (as it looked in 2005) is made from burnt steel collected from the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers in Ground Zero.
NEW YORK CITY - Bent but unbowed, the human spirit soared higher than the world's tallest buildings put together, ever more determined to overcome the terrorist attacks that have rallied a nation than sundered it.
Nowhere else is that much evident except at the very scene of the horrific tragedy itself - at Ground Zero in New York City's Lower Manhattan district.
The pain and grief have somewhat subsided among the hundreds of families whose kins perished in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, only to be taken over by a firm resolve to reign triumphant over man's worst adversaries.
Where once stood the World Trade Center's Twin Towers is now an open pit hallowed by the flesh and blood of 2,749 people, among them Filipinos, who died a gory death in the horrendous crash of two planes that levelled the North and South towers to the ground.
"All we are is dust in the wind" - as the song goes - is an apt description of what had become of the many lives snuffed out in an instant.
But the dust is of the martyred ones and the invisible spirit that makes it soar is of those who perished, whose survivors come to Ground Zero in celebration of their lives and times.
From among the thousands - relatives, friends, tourists and plain kibitzers - who thronged here, tears flowed out incessantly today, Sept. 11, 2005, as reminders of the attacks hovered everywhere in New York City and beyond, enriching the sanctity of Ground Zero as an unexpected burial ground.
Bells pealed, taps sounded and the eerie moments of silence called four times - at 8:46, 9:03, 9:59 and 10:29 a.m. marking the times the planes slammed the edifice and the times they collapsed - was punctured only by sobs and the sound of clasping hands.
Among those in the multitude were the families and kins of Filipino victims who were either passengers of the planes or employees working at the Twin Towers.
Time heals.
But for three Filipino families, the pain and anguish over the loss of loved ones in the horrific Sept. 11, 2001 attacks remain intact.
For Renee Gamboa, a medical doctor, the event was a grim reminder of a promise her only son had been unable to redeem.
"I'll be back in two weeks," Dr. Gamboa recounts Ronald Gamboa as telling her over the phone a week before the catastrophic day.
Ronald had gone on vacation in Boston and was on his way back to Los Angeles with his three-year-old adopted son, David, aboard the United Airlines plane.
In the phone conversation, Ronald was reassuring her that he would be just in time for the 38th wedding anniversary that Dr. Gamboa and husband Ranulfo, also a medical doctor, had prepared at their residence in Louisville, Kentucky.
That brief talk proved to be the last that Dr. Gamboa had with him.
Ronald and David both died that September morning four years go.
"I wish they (the authorities) would have known it (the attack). There were warnings not listened to," Dr. Gamboa said.
* * *
Cielita Peralta remembers her son, Carl Peralta, as a conscientious employee who worked diligently at Cantor Fitzgerald as an investment broker.
Carl, 37 and single, had his office at the 104th floor of the 110-storey World Trade Center's North Tower, almost at the bullseye of the plane that had slammed the building.
He had three other siblings, namely, Cielo, Oskar and Judy.
Cielita's husband, Oscar, and the entire family who live in New York's Staten Island, paid their respects at Ground Zero.
Unlike many of the grief-stricken families, the Peraltas managed a smile during the brief interview.
The former Quezon City, Philippines residents said they don't have any complaints about how the government responded to the crisis during the initial months.
Cielita took note, however, of a plan to construct in Ground Zero an International Freedom Center as a museum documenting man's atrocities against humankind.
She shared the sentiments of other people that the proposed project was intended as a tourist destination.
Asked about the government compensation, Cielita quipped: "Hindi mabibili ang buhay. Ang iba nga diyan, pag namatay, patay lang! Hindi na ako magre-reklamo". (Life can't be bought. Some people die for nothing. I won't complain anymore).
The 50-year-old Hector Tamayo worked as a project engineer at the WTC's South Tower. He was among those who died in the attacks. A native of Aklan in the Philippines, Tamayo lived in New York for the last 20 years. "His memory stays with us forever," says Kevin Nadal, a nephew. Tamayo left behind a wife and two kids.
This article is part of Digital Journal's project to remember September 11. If you have a story to tell, join us on Facebook and Twitter, and post your memories to Digital Journal. Full details on how to participate can be found here. You can also read other submissions on our September 11 Anniversary page.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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