Monday, September 11, 2006

James J. Woods

Five years ago today....well, you know.

I remember watching it on a tiny TV here at work, at the same desk I write this from.

"What an awful accident" I said to myself. Then the second plane. Then the Pentagon, then Pennsylvania. Mayhem.

My feelings were of sorrow and anger - lots and lots of anger. Three thousand of my brothers and sisters were murdered in cold blood over a corrupt, backward ideology of oppression, tyranny and genocide.

Sure they took some of us with them, but we will never surrender, never forget, never give up. No quarter will be given. And although, at times, we feel scared that the next attack (and there will be a next one, someday, somewhere) may be at the mall that we shop at or the school our children attend, we as Americans know that we will survive, prosper and thrive. We will continue shopping, educating, attending sporting events, going about our daily lives. Or we will die. Simple as that. There will be no caliphate, there will be no conversion to radical islam.

We have faced worse - much worse. Read any short history about the 20th century and you will see what I mean.

But this is the 21st century and this is my war. I am 37. Too young to remember Vietnam. 911 was one of the defining moments of my life. I will always live with a burning hatred of those who would harm innocent Americans. Or innocents in general. The massacre of innocent children (children!) in Beslan, Russia was also a defining moment for me. But my burning hatred for islamofascists takes a back seat today, September 11, 2006.

Today, for many of us, the victims don't seem so personal.

As time goes by, the video of the Towers falling from the heights of the skyline of New York City fades...the photos of the scarred land in Pennsylvania start to lose focus...the heat from the Pentagon burning subsides...and the pain starts to go we go about our daily routines.

But not for me. It never will.

We routinely throw out the words "3,000 victims" when speaking of our murdered citizens of that day. We also routinely forget that each person had a life, a family, friends, a career, dreams and hopes. Occasionally, I go to some of the 911 victim sites to look at photos of those that were murdered. Their faces have made an unbelievable impression on me. Not necessarily for their beauty or because a certain one was unique. They affect me because behind the picture is a person who one day was off to work or on vacation - a day like any other day - and never came home that night or made it to their destination.

Their faces remind me that those individuals who were in the planes, the Towers and the Pentagon were people, not numbers. They weren't "3,000 victims", they were individual persons living the American dream. Those people weren't inside the Towers that morning to fight or play or enforce their religious beliefs on anyone else. They were there to work. To make money to support their families. To advance their careers. To make ends meet. They were killed, in cold blood, for doing what is right.

I repeat: those normal, everyday folks were murdered for doing what was right. That is, being productive citizens of our great country.

Yes, I said GREAT country. For all of our politics, corruption, and all of the other things I still love the USA and always will.

I have volunteered to honor one victim of Sept. 11, 2001. I am one of many bloggers that will do so today.

2996 is an initiative by 2,996 bloggers to memorialize our fallen from that terrible day. Each blogger signs up to honor one victim - my assignment is James J. Woods.

A tough assignment indeed, to pay tribute to a person I have never known, and never will. Here is what I was given.

He was killed at the World Trade Center and was from New York.

He was a traders assistant for a firm in the World Trade Center.

That is all of the information I had received.

I suppose many bloggers will leave it at that, but not me. I want to remember him, show to the world - the few that read this anyway - what kind of a person he was, what he did, what he liked, things like that.


I had, in the original draft of this post, put up personal information about the victim I was assigned. I had the phone number of his parents and was getting ready to call them to see if they would like to add anything. I had Googled and searched the internet some and found some details of his life that I was considering writing about. And then I said to This just is not right.

After thinking about this for a very long time I have decided not to put up the personal information of the victim I was assigned. The privacy of his family, to me, is much more important than anything I could ever do with this blog. I will simply state his name. That should suffice.

James J. Woods.

Here is his photo I procured from a 911 victims memorial website.

James, your picture affects me as deeply as all of the others I have viewed on the 911 memorial sites. Because I know you were not part of "3000 victims" - you were an individual with a personality, a career, loved ones left behind. Rest in peace my brother.

To the family of Mr. Woods, if you by some chance see my link from the 2996 project and would like me to write something about your family member, please email me. I would be more than happy to do so. The address is in my blogger profile if you click on "Dan from Madison" under contributors on the left sidebar. I hope you think I did the right thing.

Today is a sad day for all of us, but we move on.

"Now the only way to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. We must delight in each other; make others' conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as his own people. For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world."

John Winthrop, 1630

Ed. note...this post went through three rewritings and was easily the toughest I have ever done.

Ed. note #2 - The comments section for this entry is closed.

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