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Berger’s Burg: Twin Tower terrorist attack ignites patriotism

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Let’s remember Pearl Harbor As we go to meet the foe. Let’s remember Pearl Harbor As we did the Alamo.

— Lyrics to a World War II song

That song was written some 60 years ago to remind...

By Alex Berger

The Attack On WTC

Sept. 11, 2001 — Another Date Etched In Infamy

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor As we go to meet the foe. Let’s remember Pearl Harbor As we did the Alamo.

— Lyrics to a World War II song

That song was written some 60 years ago to remind Americans of the time of an act of treachery that changed, paralyzed, and turned our country upside down forever. Without benefit of a declaration of war, peacetime America was brutally attacked and pulled into a war by an imperialistic and aggressive Japan. Last Tuesday, Sept. 11 (sporting the appropriate date of 9-11) I was busily preparing a column for this week. A smile was on my lips as I joyfully described my recent two-week vacation in Aruba, with Gloria.

Suddenly, she began to scream that an airplane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. A similar event flashed before my eyes: In 1946, a plane crashed into the Empire State Building, leaving a huge gash in the side of that gallant old building.

“Is it foggy outside?” I questioned, since I hadn’t been outside the house. This was the primary cause for the collision of the airplane with the Empire State Building. Before Gloria had a chance to respond she screamed, “A second plane had just crushed into the World Trade Center.” I ran to the television set. It crackled the terrifying news that it was an apparent act of terrorism by suicide pilots. It was intentional.

I remembered as a child a previous sneak attack — by warplanes from the Empire of Japan on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. It was an act that the then-President Roosevelt declared would forever “live in infamy.”

Subconsciously, I began to sing the above patriotic song, which was written to remind Americans (as if they needed reminding) of the attack that destroyed or capsized four battleships and two other ships, damaged 12 others, destroyed 188 airplanes, crippled 159 others and killed 2,403 Americans and wounded 1,178 others.

Half of the Navy's battleships were put out of action by the Japanese squadron of 43 Zero fighters, 49 high-altitude bombers (carrying one bomb each), 51 dive-bombers, a small number of submarines, and 40 torpedo carriers. Peacetime America was brutally attacked. The Japanese won a brilliant military victory that day, while suffering only minor damage. They lost 29 planes and a few submarines.

We were totally unprepared to do battle on that peaceful and serene Sunday in a place our servicemen called Paradise. Annually, on that special day (which is forever etched in our memories), we pay tribute to those who lost their life at Pearl Harbor. The attack began our entry into World War II. And we ultimately “paid them back.” I also recalled that it was on another December day, in occupied Belgium that the Battle of the Bulge began. The Germans pulled a surprise attack and six long weeks of fierce fighting ensued. Through the bravery and perseverance of the United States Army, the greatest land battle ever fought by the United States Army succeeded and Hitler's last offensive was struck a mighty blow. “The Battle” then became the beginning of the end for Hitler and Nazism, and the final destruction of the Third Reich. And, we ultimately “paid Hitler back.”

With the horrific news of another sneak attack , this time on the World Trade Center, I sat glued to the television set and winced continually as a tired and worn Mayor Giuliani agonized that there were thousands of deaths and casualties among civilians, police and firemen.

The World Trade Center, completed 30 years ago, was one of my favorite spots in New York. I would visit the beautiful, tall, and statuesque Twin Towers many times with Gloria. Our delightful walking tours were very romantic. How could this mighty structure , the highlight of the Manhattan skyline, be no more?

We realized that our niece, Judith, a lawyer, worked in the No. 7 building right next to the Twin Towers. “Oh, No!” Gloria screamed as she telephoned Judith that night. Judith said that she was able to exit the building in time and was all right, but she had to walk to her home on 70th Street. But only through a miracle, combined with a little bit of luck, saved her husband Zev. He had been looking for a new job a few months ago and was hired by Canter and Fitzgerald, a firm on a high floor, in the World Trade Center. However, Zev had also applied to another company, located in midtown, and he accepted their offer instead. As we all know, Canter and Fitzgerald took a direct hit from the crashing plane. Luckily, Zev was not one of the casualties.

We then remembered that two other nephews, Willie and Sty, worked in the area also, Willie as an EMS employee and Stu as a patrolman. We learned to our relief that Willie, who worked the West and Liberty streets location, and Sty who patrolled near the WTC, were unhurt by the collapse of the buildings. However, much to our sorrow, many other people were not as fortunate.

In this cowardly, furtive, attack, aimed against innocent civilians, America must now add in its Book of Memories a third name, along with Pearl Harbor and the Battle of the Bulge: And as America succeeded in its previous two monumental struggles during my lifetime, so it shall prevail once again.

In the words of President George W. Bush, "Good will triumph over evil," and we will very definitely pay the terrorists back.

Condolences to the relatives and friends of all those who have perished. God Bless America.

Reach columnist Alex Berger by e-mail at timesledger@aol.com or call 2290300, Ext. 139.

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