In 2001, the population of the United States was 285,669,915, which sounds like a lot of people. But on September 11, 2001, we found out just how small our part of the world really is. Because everyone in America suddenly seemed to know someone who had died in one of those planes or in the Towers or in the Pentagon or in that field in Pennsylvania.
And if they didn't know someone personally, they knew someone who knew someon and it felt personal. My sister knew a college friend. My roommate knew a favorite teacher.
My brother knew Mohammad Atta--the man who became the face of hate. There were 19 hijackers but Atta always got top billing and today, his is the only name anyone really remembers.
My brother represented Atta on some sort of traffic matter. The case was dismissed. And my brother and the most notorious hijacker in the history of America went their separate ways. Until September 11th when Rob suddenly saw a face he knew flashing up on CNN.
Its' a big country but we're all family. In the words of the 17th century poet John Donne:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.