President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy." The horrific, unannounced and unanticipated attack on the Naval Base in Honolulu, Hawaii left 2,467 dead, Americans and Japanese combined and left America in a state of shock.
September 11, 2001 was, in many ways even more horrific. Believe it or not, more people were actually killed, 2,996 lost their lives. And the attack wasn't perpetrated by another nation, but by a large, loosely knit group of religious fanatics determined to bring death, destruction and humiliation on private citizens living in a country that did not agree with their strict religious beliefs.
In the minds of the terrorists, Americans had perpetrated a million wrongs and their humiliation, death and destruction was demanded by God, by Allah himself.
For the first few hours America didn't even realize we were under attack. Our President was reading schools books to children in an elementary school in Florida. Early reports were so unclear that President Bush continued to read even after being informed of the first airplane crash. It took hours for the events to unfold.
We saw it all on television. Reporters and politicians were confused, bewildered and horrified. We watched the Twin Towers collapse and the shear magnitude of the damage done slowly became clear. Hatred turned out to be the real weapon of mass destruction.
We focused that day, as we do on most days, on the big issues. Numbers, statistics, nations, religions. Two Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety Six dead.
The Hanson's were killed when United Flight 175 was hijacked by the terrorists and purposely crashed into the World Trade Center.
Sue Kim was a Doctoral Candidate at Boston University. She, Peter and Christine decided to take a vacation to Disneyland and to visit Sue Kim's father in California before she had to defend her Doctoral Thesis.
Blind hatred killed the Hanson's. The terrorists never knew them, because to know them might have lead to understanding, to doubt in their mission, to have concerns about the justness of their cause. The leader of the terrorists, Osama bin Laden didn't want to know people, he wanted to see numbers. Peter, Sue Kim and Christine weren't people to the terrorists, they were just the number 3. Just 3 out of 2,996.
Please take a few minutes today to remember Peter, Sue Kim and Christine. Say a prayer for them and their families. Say a prayer for us all. Remember people today, not numbers.
In 2006 a blogger project was begun on the fifth anniversary of 9-11. Called the "2,996 Project" volunteers were asked to write a short remembrance for each of the victims of the September 11, 2001.attack. I was randomly assigned Sue Kim Hanson. Each year since I have repeated my effort to honor Sue Kim and her family. You can read each of my essays following the links below:
September 11, 2006 - Susan Kim Hanson
September 11, 2007 - Remembering Sue Kim Hanson
September 11, 2008 - Remembering Sue Kim Hanson
September 11, 2009 - Remembering the Reality: 9-11-2001: Sue Kim Hanson
September 11, 2010 - Reflections on the Life of Sue Kim Hanson
September 11, 2011 - Tears in Tragedy - Remembering Sue Kim Hanson
September 11, 2012 - Honoring the Memory of Peter, Sue and Christine Hanson