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The Final Word

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Time, 8:46 A.M. Place, American Airlines Flight 11. Characters and Scene, Mohamed Atta and his companions as they ram the hijacked plane into one of the Twin Towers, New York. I’ve sometimes wondered what was the last thing those terrorists saw before their plane hit the building, and I think it must have been fear, fear in the eyes of their victims. For them, it was an apparent victory. They could never have imagined how the hate—the misplaced, twisted love—they lived for could generate anything but fear. Instead, the citizens of New York and the entire world witnessed, in between the pandemonium and chaos of the moment, genuine blossoms of love. The firemen who gave their lives. The rescue workers who poured into the city. And many others. Because of them, terrorism did not have the last word.

Each day, it seems, we hear of new acts of violence and terrorism. The perpetrators intend to destroy human lives—and to that extent, they often succeed. They also intend to spread suspicion, hate, and fear in those who remain behind: to make man his own worst enemy, to dash the very foundation of society, to destroy the bonds of trust. These are the bonds that were bent but not broken on September 11, 2001. In fact, they were strengthened. Trust is strength.

The so-called Freedom Tower, built on the ashes of the Twin Towers, is scheduled to be opened this month. 13 years after 9/11, the same lessons from that day hold true: love is stronger than hate. Love had, love has, and love will have the final word.

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