September 11, 2001 affected both the U.S. and Mexico
By Joe Olvera ©, 2011
Ten years later, when extremist elements from the Muslim world attacked the World Trade Center in New York City, the wounds have not healed, the memories remain as embedded in Americans’ lives as they re-lived what had occurred on that fateful day, Sept. 11, 2001. Even today, the recollections have not dimmed. On the contrary, America’s resolve to prevent something like that from happening again remains high. There is a list of tragic events in which 9/11 can be placed – i.e., the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the murder of Martin Luther King, and other world-changing happenings that must never be forgotten.
ANALYSIS: For Jesus Alvarez of Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico, that day was the day when he thought that the international bridges between El Paso and Cd. Juarez would be closed forever. “I remember that day as if it had happened yesterday,” Alvarez said. “I was on Juarez Avenue, waiting for a cab to take me to the Central Camionera so that I could return to my home; when, suddenly, everybody started running, shouting excitedly that the U.S. was under attack. People were running every which way, some shouting that the International Bridges were about to be shut down.
Only once in his long life, Alvarez was 66, had the bridges that connected the sister cities been closed. John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, caused both countries to limit crossings back and forth. Exceptions were made for those Juarez residents who could prove their Mexican citizenship to get back to Juarez, while only American citizens who could prove they lived in the U.S., were allowed back to El Paso. Although only the Bridge of the Americas was completely shut down, the two other bridges allowed crossing back and forth, but only for those people who had been trapped in either El Paso, or in Cd. Juarez.
“I was scared that this would happen again, so instead of grabbing a cab to the main Juarez bus station, I hurried across the Paso del Norte Bridge before they closed that one down,” Alvarez remembered. “I rushed to my daughter’s house in the Lower Valley. She was surprised and relieved to see me because she had heard about the attack on the World Trade Center and didn’t know what would become of me. Later, when the smoke cleared, my daughter drove me directly to the bus station and I hopped a bus back to Chihuahua City. I’ll never forget that tragedy, even today, it lives in my memory.”
Like Alvarez, many other Juarenses were shocked and stunned in disbelief to think that the U.S. had been attacked in which almost 3,000 people of different nationalities died. The attack by Muslim extremists, meant to cripple the world’s economy, especially that of the U.S. by crashing two planes into each Twin Tower, had the immediate and opposite effect. Americans, a nation of immigrants and the most powerful nation on earth, instead, banded together in a show of strength and unity. Osama Bin Laden – the mastermind of the attack – gloated for what he had accomplished, but his victory was short-lived. Running away from his so-called victory. Bin Laden knew he was a marked man. He hid in the hills of Afghanistan and other Muslim countries where he directed other smaller attacks on the U.S. But, his dream of toppling the U.S. and to rob it of its economic power never materialized.
On May 2, 2011, almost ten years after the infamous attack, Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was shot and killed by U.S. troops and CIA operatives where he had been hiding in a town of half a million people, Abbottabad, Pakistan. He met his death in a violent way which was only fitting because he led a life of violence in which he became the symbol of Al Qaeda and in which his hatred of the United States colored his life. Could such an attack happen again? U.S. military and other leaders caution that, yes, it could happen again. How? Well, nobody knows that. Al Qaeda, although weakened, still maintains a hold on the hatred spurred by bin Laden.
Some worry that planes and trains could be targeted, especially where the largest number of people could be affected; others worry that a form of bioterrorism, in which poisons and chemical agents could be utilized; still others worry about mass shootings and bombings in heavily populated areas, or that cyberterrorism or even, yes, the feared nuclear terrorism could be unleashed on the U.S. Whatever could happen, one thing is for sure: Americans must be ever vigilant to assure that something like September 11, 2001 could never happen again.