Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition News and Article Release Issue Number: A654-O181



Release Date: September 11, 2011



Topic: Every September 11 is a Day of Remembrance and Inspiration for Us to Strike Back at Terrorism -- Ciping Huang

标题: 9/11的纪念与启迪 -- 黄慈萍


Original Language Version: English (Chinese version at the end)



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Every September 11 is a Day of Remembrance and Inspiration for Us to Strike Back at Terrorism

-- Ciping Huang

                                                                                            September 11, 2011


Today is the first time in a decade that I have been able to stay at home on September 11.  I was either traveling or away from home during the previous nine September 11's.  On  5 of them I was on an airplane.  Of course, during each September 11, especially on the 5 times when I was on an airplane, my thoughts would be associated with the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


As a matter of fact, the shadow and the implications of the 9/11 are cast on us every day since that tragic day 10 years ago.


On September 12, 2001, Wei Jingsheng and I were scheduled to fly to Switzerland from Washington DC, USA.  On the morning of September 11, we were in a location only 1km from the US Capitol and 2km away from the Pentagon.  A reporter friend called us and asked us to watch TV.  As we watched the World Trade Center north tower burning and listened to the anchorperson discussing the cause of an airplane hitting the tower, it was clear to us that it was an intentional act.  The most memorable and painful moment of that morning came as I was making the comment to Mr. Wei: "I hope that there is not a second plane that will hit the other tower", then the second airplane came into the view and hit right into the 2nd tower and burst into flames immediately.  I yelled: "America is under attack!"


The thought of America under attack started with me in the 1990's, especially after the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.  To me, this attack was unavoidable, although it may not have been as vivid and horrifying a scene as the 9/11 attack in 2001.


As we were watching live TV, my immediately thought then was that Washington DC would be under attack as well, especially the US Capitol or the White House.  So when we felt the ground shaking, followed by a loud boom and shaking windows, I looked at the US Capitol, and was glad it was still there.  The initial news reporting was that the State Department was hit, but later it was corrected to be the Pentagon.  A half-hour later, we learned that there was a fourth airplane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania.  Even then, I believed that one would be aimed for Washington DC, capitol of the USA and symbol of the democratic world.


Knowing the casualties could be in the thousands, I tried to call relatives and friends in New York City to make sure that they were ok.  One of the most tragic scenes was to see people in the floors on the high part of the two towers trying to escape or just a quick death - they were standing by the windows but not daring to jump.  That sense of hopeless was chilling and infectious.


As a person who is always preparing for untimely death and thinking of what I would do, I often wondered what those unfortunate people's last thoughts were in such a short time span and felt sympathy for both them and their loved ones.


As the flights were grounded that day, I checked the airplane company and was told that there would be no flight until later.  So I had to inform the hosts in Europe to delay out events.  Wei Jingsheng also asked me to call some friends, include Congressional member friends to express our sympathy and support, include Rep. Chris Cox who later was to become the first Chairman of United States House Committee on Homeland Security, which has authorization and policy oversight responsibilities over the Department of Homeland Security that was established after 9/11 attack.  Being in and out of the US Congress so many times in a serious and rational manner without emotional factor, I was never so moved until later that day, when I saw people gathered outside of the US Capitol singing songs to express their bravery, their solidarity, and their love to their people and the country.


Not just emotionally, but also rationally, I deeply believe a democratic system must and will ultimately overcome a minority of terrorism and autocracy exactly because it has the power from the will of the people.


That was a chaotic day, but a day full of humanitarian and love.  We received many phone calls from friends or people all over the world who were concerned about us.  Meanwhile, I tried to call the American Red Cross in case of a need for blood donations.  However, I was never able to reach a live person.  Like many other people and places, the ARC may not have been that well prepared for the attack.


So Wei Jingsheng and I decided to go out to the Pentagon to see what happened and to help in case of need.  As we were driving from the southwest corner of Washington DC, crossing Potomac River to get on Interstate 395 we could see the smoke coming out of the opposite side of the Pentagon.  There were people walking on the expressway, dressed formally with their briefcases in their hands; a scene we never saw before.  The exits to the Pentagon were already sealed and obviously there were plenty emergency personnel.  So we continued southward on I395 to some stores to stockpile our food and supplies in preparing for the worst.  When we came back after shopping and lunch, the I395 northbound to Washington DC was also blocked, so we had to take a tricky way to return to Washington DC.


For the rest of 3 days, I tried a number of ways to get 2 air tickets to Europe so our event would not have to be cancelled.  Eventually I was able to get two tickets to Zurich via "back doors" on September 18, so I decided to go back home in Ohio before the trip.  At that time there was no way to get a flight back north, so I decided to drive the 800 km (i.e. 500 miles) home.


Although I have driven between Washington DC and Toledo more than 100 times in the past 20 years, this one drive was the most memorable.  There were much fewer vehicles on the road and no airplane traces in the sky!  As night approached, especially near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the stars even appeared to be much brighter.  Was that due to less pollution from the air, or just an emotional sensibility from this great tragedy, I could not tell.


The United Flight 93 crash site in Pennsylvania was less than 5 miles from the Interstate 70/76 that I have to go on each time I go to or return from Washington DC.  It is located in Somerset county, part of the Laurel Highlands that are the region with highest altitude on my 800 km route.  On a winter day, it is often cold and dark, sometimes with goose-feather sized snow that turns away travelers.  My vehicle has broken down twice in that region on winter days so I know it could be really cold.  Yet, the chill I felt that day in mid September of 2001 when I drove by the Shanksville crash site was the coldest of all.


I salute to these people on Flight 93 who are true heroes.  Facing the threat and death, they bravely fought bravely against the terrorists and sacrificed their own lives for those at the intended target.


After I modified my will, on September 18, 2001, Wei Jingsheng and I finally were able to board a very full Delta Airlines flight for Europe.  That flight had many Muslims on board, many of them were women and children.  Uncertain of future, many passengers appeared to be nervous and anxious.


The victims of the terrorism were not just Americans, but also these Muslims.


As our plane departed the gate in Washington Dulles airport and pulled to the runway, it stopped and did not move for several hours.  I noticed that there were no more airplanes landing or taking off anymore.  Then, more than one dozen police cars and military looking vehicles surrounded our airplane.  I realized something really serious happened and quickly told Wei Jingsheng what to do in case the authorities separated us.  Indeed, we were informed that we must leave the airplane with only our IDs, tickets and a small bag.  Outside of our airplane in that evening, there were many US marshals (I think, although could not figure out why) in dark clothes with some machine guns looking weapons in their hands.  We were reviewed one by one carefully; fortunately, the two of us were not in much trouble despite the lack of official passports.  We were told that the FBI detected something right before the take off, though I am not sure that would be the reason, but accepted it as a real time exercise.  We were also told that the flight must be delayed until the second day.  During that period, cell phones had no signals in Dulles airport, so it was another round of dazzling chaos when I tried to reach and inform our European hosts not to drive all the way to Zurich from Liechtenstein, etc.


More than one week after the September 11 tragedy, we were finally able to take our flight to Europe.  Our air route exactly went over the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan, where I could still see clearly smoke coming out of that ground.  To think that more than 2000 lives perished underneath stalled my thoughts...


As I witness the aftermath of all the 4 attacks on the USA and mourn the thousands innocent lives lost to the terrorism, I believe and support war against terrorism in principle.  However, it would be a different matter as to how it should be conducted. 


On September 11, 2002, I was in Orvieto, Italy, with Wei Jingsheng for some events.  We had a very busy day, but I still chose to watch the TV segment of memorial in the USA.


On September 11, 2003, I was in Washington DC.  Three days earlier, I made a statement in the US Congress to the China Commission about the lack of press freedom in China.  The Chinese Communist regime exploits the 9/11 tragedy for its own advantage and escalated its suppression over freedom.


By then, the US government had launch both wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to fight against terrorism.  It is not easy.  But what about state terrorism, when people die in the tens of thousands, and are persecuted in millions and suppressed in hundreds of millions?


To me, every September 11 is a day of remembrance, and more so an inspiration for us to strike back at terrorism, include state terrorism by authoritarian regimes.



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Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition News and Article Release Issue Number: A654-O181



Release Date: September 11, 2011



Topic: Every September 11 is a Day of Remembrance and Inspiration for Us to Strike Back at Terrorism -- Ciping Huang

标题: 9/11的纪念与启迪 -- 黄慈萍


Original Language Version: English (Chinese version at the end)









-- 黄慈萍, 2011年9月11日



除了今年,过去的十年来,每年的9月11日我都在外或旅途中,其中5次是在飞机上。毫无疑义,每年的这一天,尤其是在飞机上时,我的思绪就会联想到 9/11恐怖袭击事件。










































2003年9月11日,我在华盛顿特区。 在那3天前,我在美国国会的中国委员会讲述中国没有新闻自由的问题。中国共产党政权利用9/11悲剧且更加强了对自由的镇压。











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